Kanarraville Falls is a popular slot canyon hike in southern Utah. As of 2018, the hike required a fee of $9/person. In our opinion, the fee is worth doing this hike at least once, because it is a beautiful and unique experience.
- Rating: Moderate
- Distance: 4.4 miles RT
- Elevation Gain:
- Fees: $9/person
- Tips: You WILL hike in the water, so wear appropriate clothing and footwear (not flip flops) for climbing and hiking in water.
Tickets can be purchased for this hike in advance or at the kiosk at the trailhead. There is plenty of parking, and there is generally an attendant on duty. The path follows a dirt road for the first three quarters of a mile. As you hike the dusty path with no shade, you’ll wonder why in the world you spent $9 on this hike. But eventually you come to a small arrow sign that says “Best Route” and points to the left.
At this point the trail walks right down to the river. At first, we were convinced that we could stay dry, so we hugged the banks or skipped from rock to rock. There are even some trails that climb up the banks and drop steeply back down. Eventually, we realized that the best and most direct route was to go straight up the river. Once we decided it didn’t matter how wet we got, the hike was much more enjoyable. (Note: There are a few deep holes that should be avoided.)
The hike follows the narrow ravine for about half a mile until it comes to the opening for the slot canyon. This is a great place to stop for a few pictures, and also the last place that your feet will be dry (if they’ve remained dry this far).
We did this hike at the beginning of August, and the water never got deeper than the bottoms of our back pockets. Of course, that was chest deep on our 6 year-old! Generally, you can keep the water to ankle depth, but there are a few spots that it is unavoidably deeper.
The slot canyon is beautiful. It narrows down to four or five feet, but what makes this hike unique is the water. Most of the narrow canyons we’ve been to are dry, but Kanarraville Falls is always running.
Eventually, you come to a few waterfalls. The first one has a sturdy ladder that most kids can climb. It has a series of metal rungs screwed on to a log leaned up next to the waterfall. The top rungs rock a bit, but the climbing is easy. There is even a rope fastened to the wall to help you along. Coming back down is a lot harder, though, so be prepared!
After the first ladder, the terrain opens up a bit until you come to a second slot. This one is just as narrow and just as wet. At the far end, which is around two miles from the trailhead, there is a second ladder. This one is much more rickety. It is a log with irregularly spaced wooden rungs screwed to it. The wrungs are slippery, loose, and have a gap of about 4 feet at one point. We saw adults helping each other up this ladder, and Dad climbed it easily on his own, but none of our kids wanted to try it. Getting them back down would have been pretty difficult, so we decided to turn around.
Turning around at the second ladder made this unique hike almost exactly four miles. Others were going further, and Dad rushed up the trail another 75 yards or so and reported that the canyon continues, but we’ve heard it ends after about 2.2 miles (4.4 RT). We were satisfied to go to the second ladder and turn around.
Some people are upset that Kanarraville Falls is charging a fee, but don’t let it deter you. This is a great hike to do at least once, and fees help improve the hike and keep the numbers manageable. Don’t miss it, because Kanarraville Falls is one of the most unique and adventurous hikes we’ve done!
Kanarraville Falls is located in the town of Kanarraville, which is about 10 miles south of Cedar City. The hike begins right in town. If coming from the north take exit 51, and if coming from the south, take exit 42. Head east off the exit toward Kanarraville. Drive about 5 miles toward town. Once in Kanarraville, head east on 100 north. Follow for 3 blocks until you arrive at the Kanarraville Falls parking lot. There are signs to help you find your way in town.
Tips for Families
- We recommend this hike for ages 5 and up. This does not mean little ones couldn’t do the hike, but we felt that with the distance, the climbing of ladders and rocks, as well as the hiking in water, it is more appropriate for older kids. You decide what is best for your family. We were so glad our youngest was 6 and a strong hiker.
- Go early in the day to avoid crowds. We started our hike at 10:00 am and didn’t see many people on the trail. As we were headed back to our car, we passed a ton of people coming after lunch.
- Hike on a weekday if possible to avoid crowds. We went on a Tuesday and it wasn’t very busy at all.
- Wear shoes that are good for hiking, but that you don’t mind getting wet. We planned this for the last day of our trip, so we hiked in our hiking shoes with socks. Then we put on flip flops when we got back to the car for the ride home.
- You will get wet so wear clothes that you don’t mind getting wet in, but you will mostly dry on your hike back to the car. We were almost completely dry by the time we arrived at our car. We did hike on a warm summer day.
- Bring water and snacks. This is a long hike and you will want both water and snacks to keep the kids going. Treats, too!
- Waterproof your phone or camera. Bring a case or bag to put your camera/phone in so it doesn’t get wet along the trail.
- Watch the weather. Kanarraville Falls is in a slot canyon, so flash floods are definitely a possibility. If there is rain in the forecast, do not hike.
- Hike respectfully. The water in this creek goes into those tanks, which provide water for the town of Kanarraville. Don’t litter or treat the stream as a toilet.