Kanarra Falls – A Hidden Gem
Southern Utah is littered with slot canyons. Zion National Park, the Grand Staircase-Escalante, and Lake Powell areas have some of the most famous slot canyons, such as The Narrows, The Subway, Davis Gulch, and Antelope Canyons. But there are many hidden gems, like Kanarra Falls, that are a not as well known, but are no less spectacular.
I was fortunate enough to discover this amazing place through the Yonder App, not too long before I took my trip to Zion National Park, and was anxious to visit it while I was there. I only had 2 days to spend in Zion, so that meant having to cut my hike in The Narrows down to half a day in order to make time to get up to Kanarra Falls. And while I absolutely loved my time in The Narrows, I am so very glad that I left early to take this little side trip. Kanarra Falls is one of the smaller, non-technical (no rappelling skills required) slot canyons located in the Zion National Park region. It is not located in Zion National Park, but it’s only about an hour drive from the southern entrance. So if you are spending some time at Zion, and have an extra half day to explore the area, Kanarra Falls should be on your list.
The trail starts off along a dusty dirt access road that winds its way up into the Hurricane Cliffs just to the east of the little town of Kanarraville. The access road soon narrows to a trail and you’ll have to cross the creek several times as you make your way further into the canyon. Once in the canyon you will be primarily walking in the stream. During the summer, the water is only ankle deep in most places, and while still cool, it is not at all uncomfortable. At other times of the year the water can be deeper and much colder, so take appropriate precautions and wear the proper gear.
The lush greenery surrounding the stream bed soon gives way to the towering walls of the slot canyon. This is a narrow slot canyon so it really gives you the feeling of being closed in, unlike the Narrows in Zion National Park, that while towering much higher over you, aren’t as tight together. It’s not a long walk through this section of the slot canyon until you reach the main attraction of Kanarra Falls.
The biggest reason for my visit here was the waterfalls. The first set of falls is a 15 foot high drop that splits around a large boulder. There’s usually some sort of makeshift ladder that has been put in place to aid you in climbing up. The picturesque waterfall with the ladder and the contrast of the colors of the surrounding canyon walls are truly a sight to see. Be careful when climbing up and down the ladder as it is extremely slippery. There was a family with some very young children and a mother carrying her baby climbing up this while I was there and it made me very nervous watching them. Please use your best judgment if you are going to attempt it.
Not far after climbing up the ladder at the first falls you will come to a second, smaller waterfall. This one is much easier to traverse as there is a path that leads around to the right of the large rock that chokes the falls. This is where you will exit the tighter slot canyon and enter a beautiful hidden oasis.
If you continue up past the second waterfall you will reach an incredibly beautiful set of small cascading falls. The surrounding landscape here is unbelievably beautiful and the colors of the surrounding rock are so vibrant that it makes you feel like you are in a painting. This is a perfect spot to break for lunch or to just sit back and relax and admire the work of Mother Nature at her finest.
“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” ~ Roald Dahl
When you are ready to leave, and that may not be for a while, simply head back down along the stream and follow the same route you hiked in on.
On my way back to Zion I got pulled over for speeding. I was doing 64 in a 45 mph zone. I apologized and said that “I thought the speed limit was 65. He said, “It was, then you passed signs for it dropping to 55 and then again to 45 as you went through town.” I replied, “I didn’t even notice that I went through a town. It’s hard to pay attention to the signs when you’re looking at this!” as I pointed at the beautiful landscape all around us. He smiled as he handed me back my license and said, “Enjoy your trip, just remember to slow down as you pass through the towns.” Apparently the people in Southern Utah are just as nice as the scenery is.
Pros: Beautiful Slot Canyon, Unique Waterfalls, Hidden Oasis.
Cons: Weekend Crowds, Parking Fee.
Overall: Kanarra Falls is truly a hidden gem. It’s a little off the beaten path and not as well known as the more popular slot canyons in and around Zion National Park, but well worth a side trip here if you are in the area.
I was fortunate enough to spend an afternoon here and look forward to visiting it again sometime soon. Until next time. Namaste!
Here’s some more pictures from my adventure in Kanarra Falls