Little Wild Horse Canyon

...and info on the Little Wild Horse Canyon and Bell Canyon Loop Hike

Little Wild Horse Canyon

Little Wild Horse Canyon is a spectacular slot canyon just outside of Goblin Valley State Park. It is perhaps the most popular hike in the San Rafael Swell. This is probably what you picture a slot canyon in southern Utah looking like. Walk through the twisting canyon, with high walls on either side of you, sometimes only a few feet apart in the amazing narrows. The water that shaped the canyon has left its mark on the rock, leaving beautiful shapes and textures behind. Bell Canyon is adjacent to Little Wild Horse Canyon and is often combined in a loop hike. Little Wild Horse Canyon is the longer and more spectacular of the two. Bell Canyon is a little more gentle and also pretty. This hike is suitable for most hikers but it is not simply a stroll, there is some scrambling up rocks in certain places. There is a real danger of flash floods when there are thunderstorms in the area. Don't hike this trail when there is a possibility of flash floods.

The Hike

The Trailhead

The trailhead is located about 5 miles southwest of the entrance to Goblin Valley State Park and is fairly well marked. If coming from Temple Mountain Road, go to the right just before the entrance to Goblin Valley. There is a parking area and a toilet. You can check out the trailhead location on the Map Page.

The Route

As always, it is a good idea to have a good map with you. It is fairly easy to navigate but a detailed guidebook may also be a good idea. The canyon is often dry but can have some standing water after rains. Don't hike the canyon if thunderstorms are forecasted due to the danger of flash floods. There is no reliable water in the canyon, you should bring all you need or more than you think you'll need in this hot and dry environment. Little Wild Horse Canyon is more dramatic and a little more difficult. You have to be prepared to climb up rocks, nothing too extreme but it's not for everybody. If you're doing the loop with Bell Canyon, think about going up Little Wild Horse Canyon first, as it's often easier to climb than to descend. It is also common to walk up Little Wild Horse Canyon for as long as you feel like and head back the way you came. The Little Wild Horse Canyon and Bell Canyon loop is approximately 8 miles roundtrip.

a wash near Little Wild Horse Canyon

The wash near the beginning of Little Wild Horse Canyon

Little Wild Horse Canyon

Some of the twists and turns inside Little Wild Horse Canyon

At the beginning you walk up a wash for awhile. The canyon starts and there is a large boulder there which is difficult to get around, but you can walk to the left and above it and drop back down where convenient. The split between Little Wild Horse and Bell Canyons happens fairly quickly after that, with Little Wild Horse Canyon to the right. There are signs at the split. The amazing narrows happen fairly quickly. Walk up the canyon past wild rock formations and slots that are a few feet wide at points. The canyon walls on either side of you guide the way. There is a dryfall near the end of the canyon and you come out of the narrow part into a wash.

Behind the Reef

A view by Behind the Reef Road


There is not much signage between Little Wild Horse and Bell Canyons, it is a little confusing but fairly easy to navigate. There is also virtually no shade between the canyons. There are sweeping views on the route between the canyons.

Bell Canyon

Bell Canyon

Bell Canyon Rock Formations

Rock formations inside Bell Canyon

Towards Bell Canyon. After ascending the dryfall at the end of Little Wild Horse Canyon and going up the wash for awhile, there is a sign on your left where there is a trail that leads to Behind the Reef Road. Walk on Behind the Reef Road southwest towards Bell Canyon. Eventually leave the road when the road heads towards the cabin. Bell canyon is gentler than Little Wild Horse Canyon but pretty as well. You will eventually get back to the point where Little Wild Horse and Bell split, then go back out to the trailhead the way you came in.

Info

Facilities/Services

There is no water available
Parking Area
Restrooms at the trailhead
Bulletin Board

Contact

BLM - Price Field Office
125 S 600 W
Price, UT 84501
Phone: 435-636-3600
http://www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/fo/price/recreation/SanRafaelDesert.html

Things to Consider

Bring and drink plenty of water, the canyons are often dry. Don't do this hike if there is a chance of thunderstorms due to flash flood danger. The canyons are partially shaded but in between them there is little shade. Be sure to fill up your gas tank in Green River or Hanksville.

Nearby Attractions

Goblin Valley State Park
Wild Horse Window
Temple Mountain