Kanarra Falls (Kanarra Creek)

Kanarra Falls (Kanarra Creek)

Trail

Trail

Kanarra Falls (sometimes mistakenly called Kanarraville falls) is a great hike with most of the features of some of a more traditional slot canyons, and with no requirements for permits or rappelling gear. This trail includes a creek running over river rocks between sheer vertical canyon walls, a log modified to be a ladder up a waterfall, and plenty of time spent walking in the water.

 
Elevation Range:   700 ft
Low Elevation:   6300 ft
High Elevation:   5600 ft
Distance:   3.5 miles
Area:   Zion National Park
Cost:   $10 for parking
Rating:    (3.7)
Aerobic Intensity:    (2.0)
Technical Difficulty:    (2.3)
Scenery:    (3.9)
  1 ratings
Last Edited: Oct 03, 2016

 Guide

If you are looking for a great way to escape the summer heat, or perhaps for an easy hike that is a little different, this is a great candidate.  Kanarra Creek runs through a real slot canyon, and while you may not have to bring a rope to travel the course you can get every other part of the slot canyon experience.  This hike is genuinely fun and unique, and can be completed in an evening after work or school to boot.

In prepping for this hike you will want the standard hiking equipment, but a hiking stick will come in especially handy here as you are walking through the creek and wet river rocks.  Because this is a slot canyon, you will want to take some extra precautions with weather.  If rain is called for anywhere in the area, be very careful about deciding to do this hike.  The collection area for this particular canyon is smaller than many, which means that the probability and severity of a major flash flood is lower than for some other slot canyons - but it is never worth taking any chances, and even a small flood has risk associated with it.

Be ready to spend plenty of time in the water! This means hiking shoes appropriate for water, and other clothes that you don't mind getting wet.  Your shoes should be slip resistant, and ideally will have a way of letting water easily in and out.  The water isn't deep, and it isn't necessary to go under any of the waterfalls - so any pair of shorts will work.

When you get to Kanaraville and arrive at the parking lot, make sure to pay the parking fee.  The trail is generally well marked, but really amounts to hiking on a dirt road for the first mile or so.  The first couple hundred yards are fairly steep as you climb up out of the parking lot, but after the initial up-and-down the slope evens out considerably.

The first half mile or so of the hike is a leisurely walk along the old dirt road, with nothing more than the occasional creek crossing.  After this half-mile or so the road goes directly up the creek bed, and the trail starts to meander through trees, in and out of the water, and up and down the banks of the water.  The scenery is amazing here, and the amount of vegetation visible even in the heat of summer definitely makes you feel like you are somewhere other than Southern Utah.

There often isn't one specific trail - there can be multiple paths forward at any given time.  One might be in and out of the water, one might be higher up the sides of the canyon, and there is of course always the option of just charging right up the creek itself.  Take whichever path you feel most comfortable with, and just be observant of different hazards along the way.

After another half-mile or so of this pattern, you will find yourself at the mouth of the slot canyon portion of the trail.  The mouth of this portion of the canyon is quite sudden, and the entrance dramatic.  One moment you are in a typical canyon with steep, but navigable sides - the next minute you are staring at vertical rock cliffs towering 75 feet above you.

Here, you have no choice but to walk through the water.  Depending on the flow of the creek, this will usually mean at least a few inches of water working its way over river rocks.  Be careful, the path is slippery and unstable, as you might expect.  Step cautiously, and be prepared for the rocks underfoot to shift as you go along.

After about 200 yards, you will come to the first waterfall.  A log was recently placed with cross-pieces for climbing up ladder-style, and this has made it very easy to advance up past the waterfall.  There can often be a queue of people lining up to get up or down, so be prepared to spend some time enjoying the scenery.  This can be a great spot to snap a photo of the water feature, or catch a playful moment on your camera of a group member.  The light conditions are often best right at sunset, when the light is travelling up the canyon to illumiate everything from the side and add a nice red hue to everything.

Past the first waterfall the hike will start getting slightly more technical, as you will navigate around various boulders and logs.  Very quickly you will arrive at an interesting collection of water features, including some large rocks that you can slide down into some pools of water.

Just past this point is the second waterfall, which can have a varying degree of assistive ropes, logs, or other items to help you climb up and over.  This waterfall is less scenic and dramtic, but makes for a good climb to advance further up the mountain.

Beyond the second waterfall, the trail only advances several hundred yards more until you get to the turnaround point.  You can work your way further up the canyon if you want, but most people stop there and head back down the trail.

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 Getting There

  • Heading north on I-15 from Las Vegas or St George, take exit 42 (Kanarraville).
  • Turn right after the off-ramp, then make the next left onto Old Hwy 91
  • Continue North on Highway 91 for 4.5 miles , as you arrive at the town of Kanarraville
  • At 200 North, turn right.  After approximately half a mile, the parking lot will be well-marked on your left.
  • Follow the signs and avoid a ticket - make sure to park at the parking lot.

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