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Little Wild Horse Canyon - Hanksville, Utah

Little Wild Horse Canyon is a geological wonder. You must see it in person. For 3.6 miles one way, hikers can navigate through the southern Utah canyon with three distinct narrow sections. All of the canyon is considered narrow based on common definitions, but the slots will have people shouting, "Holy cow! THIS IS REALLY NARROW!" In those sections, only one or two people at most can pass through at the same time.

Enjoy my photos and do watch the six videos below. You can examine much of this scenic area on the National Geographic topographical map named San Rafael Swell #172. From Grand Junction, Colorado, the drive is approximately 2.5 hours to arrive at the trailhead near Hanksville, Utah. This would also make a good day trip for those stationed in Moab, Utah.

NOTES: The danger of flash floods is significant in this region. Be alert, especially if there have been rainstorms. A flash flood in a slot canyon can be deadly for obvious reasons. (Don't believe me? Here's a flash flood in Little Wild Horse Canyon a few months later on YouTube: here. Also, here's three other Utah flash floods: here, here and here. Now imagine that water flow in a slot canyon!) Also, Little Wild Horse Canyon is in a remote region known as the San Rafael Swell. The nearest towns, Hanksville and Green River, are about a one-hour drive away. Gas up and get all your supplies there.

Little Wild Horse Canyon, Utah
Wind, water and erosion have sculpted the towering walls to perfection in Little Wild Horse Canyon.

Little Wild Horse Canyon, Utah
Me standing in a narrow section. It required much effort to balance my tripod for this photo!

Photos and videos by Steve Garufi in Fruita, Colorado. Facebook - Twitter - Pinterest - YouTube

My Favorite Video

On my way back out, I made this video of my hike through much of the second slot canyon. This will give you a good idea of what it's like. Also, note how narrow things get around the four minute mark! :)

Click any image to view it at a larger size.


FYI - At the trailhead are portable toilets. The trail leads into the canyon, and then splits into Bell Canyon (left) and Little Wild Horse Canyon (right). From what I've read, the common opinion is that Bell Canyon isn't as pretty as Little Wild Horse, but some do a full hiking loop through both in a day.

April 15, 2013 - My hike began on an overcast Monday morning.

Little Wild Horse Canyon Hikers Pretty canyon scenery at the beginning.

This section reminded me of Williams Canyon in Manitou Springs. A short distance ahead, the fun slot canyons were awaiting.

Little Wild Horse Canyon Utah

Little Wild Horse Slot Canyon

The First Slot Canyon

TOP: The canyon narrowed from the width of a car lane to a sidewalk. Soft-shaded orange sandstone graced the canyon walls, and I had the feeling like I was indoors. In fact, I kind of was with the exception of the gap above.

SECOND: Two friendly hikers and their two dogs wiggled past me as I stood in the slot canyon.

THIRD: There are two sections where it's narrow and you need to lean diagonally to avoid scraping against the walls.

Passing Through

I've watched this video so many times. Sweet memories!
Little Wild Horse Canyon Trail

The Second Slot Canyon

After the first slot canyon, there is an opening for a few tenths of a mile.

Then I approached what you see in the adjacent photo. That can't possibly be the trail! Or is it? Yes, it is. :)

Little Wild Horse Canyon, Utah

Little Wild Horse Canyon Utah

The beginning of the second slot canyon is the narrowest. For about 50 yards, two skinny people could probably wiggle past each other, but that's it. :)

I captured two photos, and then made this video.

Canyon Happiness

I began my hike around the same time as the two women at 2:00.

Little Wild Horse Canyon Utah A rock sits beautifully on the hips of the lower walls.

You will need to hike under that to continue.

Little Wild Horse Canyon, Utah Nature's sculpted artwork.
Little Wild Horse Canyon, Utah A few times I thought to myself, "This is one of those times where it's advantageous to be thin!"
In some sections, the walls are patterned back and forth in small "S" curves.
Little Wild Horse Canyon, Utah A self-portrait.

Slot Canyoneering
Hiking out of the second slot canyon.

The canyon widened enough that it felt spacious compared to the slots.

TOP: Looking back at the mouth of the second slot canyon.

SECOND: The view facing ahead. Does Little Wild Horse Canyon continue through that narrow crack on the left or the larger opening on the right? This time, have mercy, the trail continues to the right. :)

Little Wild Horse Canyon, Utah

The Third Slot Canyon

I'm not sure if this next section is considered the third slot canyon, but it doesn't matter. It went for a long distance and was so pretty.

Upper Little Wild Horse Canyon

After the third section, the canyon widens. It's nothing like the slots, but it's scenic nonetheless.

The Wider Section

The Wonders of Utah's Canyon Country

Beyond the wide section, my hike continued in the creek bed. There are plenty more rock structures and obstacles to overcome, including the spots in these two photos.

TOP: You need to hop up on the potentially wet rock and move ahead.

SECOND: Under a large rock and then a sharp turn to the left.

After manuevering past these two spots, I turned back. I am certain I was near the end of the trail where it hits a road, but I had all the jollies I needed for the day. I hiked back and went back through all of those amazing slot canyons once more.

It was an enjoyable three-day getaway to Green River, Utah. Little Wild Horse Canyon was unquestionably the biggest highlight, and my visits to Goblin Valley State Park and Dutchman Arch weren't bad either.

Hiking Back Through

I thought of my childhood friend Bernie, the guy with the gong, and knew he'd like this.
(The same video that's posted near the top.)

I would've continued all the way out of the first slot canyon, but my camera battery was dying! :o)

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