OK, you gotta do this – at least once!
I hiked through my first slot canyon in 2003 and became enamored by them.
A slot canyon is a narrow canyon, formed by the wear of water rushing through rock.
A slot canyon is significantly deeper than it is wide. Some slot canyons can measure only a foot to three feet across at the top but drop more than one hundred feet to the floor of the canyon.
As the vacation planner, I look for places we haven’t been. Through my research, I saw several fascinating pictures from slot canyons.
After much deliberation, I settled on Little Wild Horse Canyon, north of Hanksville, Utah.
Why should you do this?
· Fairly easy hike
· New experience
· Amazing formations due to water’s action
· Countless photo opportunities
· Bragging rights (“Look what I did!”)
· The therapeutic value of spending time in Nature
Even if you’re not a regular hiker, Little Wild Horse Canyon has just a slight elevation change, so most people would be able to enjoy this wonderful piece of Creation.
The only problem you might have is if you’re claustrophobic. At it’s slimmest, Little Wild Horse narrows down to about 18 inches. Several lengths of it are only two-three feet wide.
The hike starts out innocuous enough, typical high desert vegetation and landscape. What makes the first part of the trail exciting is the fact that you’re outside, away from the hectic schedules that consume most people’s lives these days. Also, you’re anticipating the joy you’re about to experience.
Don’t rush through the first part even though you’re not in the slot canyon yet. It’s likely that you’ll see ground squirrels scampering about. They’re little beggars for sure and they’re so darn cute, but please refrain from feeding them. Feeding wildlife may be fun for the moment, but if it happens enough, it conditions them to depend on people for handouts as they quit their normal foraging habits. Human-fed animals usually have half the life span of non-fed animals.
If it’s early in the morning or late in the afternoon, you might even see a deer.
After about 10 minutes, you’ll round a corner and come to a slot that’s very inviting. If you’re like us, you’ll head right in there, assuming it’s the slot canyon. It’s not. Well, it’s a slot alright, but only a few yards long. To get to the narrow part of the Little Wild Horse, you’ll go on the trail that skirts the left side of that first deceptive little slot. slotxo
You’ll make your way around a bend to the left and find yourself on a ledge about 15 – 20 feet above the canyon floor below. There are several possible routes down off the ledge, so just make your way down the best-looking way.
The entrance to Little Wild Horse Canyon (LWHC) is toward the northeast. If you take off to the northwest, you’ll enter Bell Canyon, which isn’t as spectacular as Little Wild Horse. If you do head off in that direction, you can make an eight-mile loop and come back through LWHC. If you do this, I highly recommend a topographical map of the area, because it is fairly easy to miss the connector between Bell and Little Wild Horse canyons.
For this description, we’ll assume you’re going to the end of LWHC, then turning around and coming back the same way. This will end up being a little over four miles roundtrip.
As you start down the early part of LWHC, it’s narrow, but not claustrophobic. You’ll already be able to see some of the wild carving that water has done to the rock.
After a mile or so, you’ll round a corner into an open area. Just ahead, you’ll see narrow part continuing. When we were there, this next narrow section of LWHC had about two feet of water in it.
But we weren’t about to let a little water stop us. We waded on in. The water was a little cold, but not bone-chilling by any means. We got used to it after just a minute or two.
Make sure you’re wearing waterproof boots, or shoes with good grip that you don’t mind if they get wet or muddy. The bottom of these water-filled sections are very muddy, so take it slow and place your steps very deliberately.
After we cleaned our muddy boots, it took two days for them to fully dry out. So if you’re planning on doing more hiking the next day, bring an extra pair of shoes or boots.
The first water-filled section was about 60 feet long. Then you climb over a boulder to a dry section. Even though you’re on dry ground, resist the temptation to hurry. Take your time and marvel at Nature’s sculpture.
There is a dryfall that I’m guessing was six-seven feet tall that you will have to negotiate. Hope you have a hiking partner to help!
After negotiating three more watery/muddy sections, we shortly came to a section where the canyon widens. It’s pretty conspicuous, probably 75-100 feet wide.
We walked around this open section for a little while, then turned back because of time. Had we started earlier, we would have made our way onward and around through Bell Canyon.
Even though you’re re-tracing your steps, again please don’t hurry back through. We saw formations and designs on the way back that we didn’t notice on the way in.
This hike took us about four hours, but we don’t hike as fast as most people. We like to take our time, soak up the scenery, and take lots of photographs.