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KANARRA CREEK (Kanarraville Falls)

Route Description Photos 1 2 3

Kanarra CreekOverview:
Kanarra Creek is a beautiful little canyon in BLM land north of the Kolob section of Zion National Park, located above the Hurricane Cliffs just east of the little town of Kanarraville. As you drive into the downtown on Old US Hwy 91 (which becomes Main Street), look for E 100 N St and drive east three blocks until you reach the gated dirt road that heads up into the hills. Park in either the large town parking lot near the gate or the "Sweet Spot" parking lot south of the road. DO NOT park along the street or in front of a private residence; you will get ticketed or towed.

Access has changed quite a bit in the past decade as this canyon has gone from being an obscure hike to one of the most popular and crowded destinations for hikers and photographers alike. Known as "Kanarra Creek", "Kanarra Slot Canyon", "Kanarra Falls", and "Kanarraville Falls", this beautiful little canyon has been inundated with crowds of people and large tourist groups, many who leave their trash in the canyon, trample the plant life and damage the waterworks. If you choose to come here, please tread lightly, practice "leave no trace" ethics, and be prepared to share the hike with many other people. And if you want to enjoy wilderness solitude, consider not doing this hike on a summer weekend when crowds are at their worst.

The cost of a hiking permit is $8 per person. (No pets are allowed.) Visitors can purchase hiking permits in advance on the official Kanarra Falls permit website. While the fee may seem steep, it is intended to curb the unsustainable crowds that this canyon has seen in recent years.

Detailed Description:
Kanarra Creek is a fairly strenuous day hike up a beautiful little canyon and could take anywhere between 2-6 hours to hike at a leisurely pace, depending on how far up the canyon you want to go. From the hiker's gate, follow the old access road as it wanders up into the Hurricane Cliffs past the water tanks and enters the lower open sections of the canyon. You will cross the stream several times and soon enough, the road will end by the water well and you will be hiking in the stream most of the time. (Good water hiking shoes are recommended for the usually cold water.)

Kanarra CreekThe lower sections of canyon are mostly overgrown and you will be alternating between hiking in the (usually less than a foot-deep) water and hiking on one of the many short trails of use on both sides of the stream. Whatever route you choose, please do your best to avoid causing any more erosion to the banks. After about half a mile, the canyon suddenly slots up and you are in the magic section of the hike.

Soon after the start of the dark slot section, you will reach the first major landmark of the hike: Kanarraville Falls, a 15-foot high rock-jam waterfall. Typically, some sort of ladder aid is in place to help people climb up the waterfall, but the quality of the aid varies year to year. Evaluate the ladder(s) carefully to determine if they are safe enough for YOU to use. Some people will choose to call it quits at this point and enjoy lunch in the lower sections of the canyon.

Just above the first waterfall is a boulder waterfall that can be bypassed by scrambling up the right (SE) side of the canyon. After several more beautiful turns in the canyon, a few minor obstacles and a few narrow sections of waist-deep water, you will reach a second smaller waterfall that may also have some sort of ladder concoction to help upstream travel. Again, evaluate if the aid is safe enough for you. Beyond this obstacle is a wonderful little slot after which the canyon opens up and alternates between overgrown sections and almost-slot-canyon sections.

While many will lose interest in the hike beyond the second waterfall, you can actually continue hiking quite a bit up the canyon. While the scenery isn't as intense as the lower slots and waterfalls, there are several sublime sections of canyon that make a longer hike worth it. But roughly three miles up the creek, the canyon loses its charm as it reaches the open and overgrown hills under Kanarra Mountain. When you have had your fill, return the way you came.

Kanarra Creek topo map Kanarra Creek Map.
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Technical Challenges:
I would almost call this a family hike if it wasn't for the two obstacles. You are walking/wading in water for most of the hike, so dress appropriately. A run of webbing might be useful for handlines to help weaker members of your party get past some of the scrambling obstacles depending on conditions.

Joe's Spin:
This is a great little hike! It's not as majestic or stunning as the Zion Narrows proper, but it is quite a beautiful little canyon; the flowing water and slot sections make it more interesting than its neighboring canyons. Thank you to the people of Kanarraville who have come up with a good solution for protecting their canyon and keeping access open to hikers! On a hot summer day, be prepared to share this canyon with others; this hike is popular!

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