Jun 25 2017

Kanarra Creek

Categories: Hiking, Zion

I have known about Kanarra Creek for many years but I never felt like going because I always read that it was very short and very crowded. Both are true. While it is an exceptionally beautiful little water hike cut through the same rock as the Kolob and every bit as nice as Zion National Park, it lies well outside the boundaries of the park.

Kanarra Creek can be very crowded, with long waits to climb up the two main waterfalls, or while wading through the narrowest sections of the canyon, but we seemed to hit it just right on the way up. As we walked up the hot dirt road, which accounts for half the hike, we passed a constant stream of people who were leaving the canyon. Once inside, we were fortunate not to see many people through the narrow portion of the canyon, but on the way back out we encountered a bottleneck at one of the falls where a group of a over a dozen people were climbing up the log one at a time. It took us a good 6 or seven minutes until i sort of just grabbed my chance to go down.

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The first mile you walk along a hot dirt road through the Hurricane Cliffs Fault

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The first thing you pass at the top of the hill are the water tanks for the town of Kanarraville, filled with water from the creek.

The first thing you pass at the top of the hill are the water tanks for the town of Kanarraville, filled with water from the creek. After that you walk along the first mile on a hot dirt road.

Crossing a trail washout along the waterpipe. I have heard it was repaired in the spring of 2017. (We visited in September 2016)

Passing through the fault line of the Hurricane Cliffs, which hide the canyon from view.

Crossing a trail washout along the waterpipe. I have heard it was repaired in the spring of 2017. (We visited in September 2016). Shortly after passing through the thick fault line of the Hurricane Cliffs, you will arrive at the canyon proper.

Kanarra Creek can be very crowded, with long waits to climb up the two waterfalls or wade through the narrowest sections of the canyon. We seemed to hit it just right on the way up. As we walked up the hot dirt road, which accounts for half the hike, we passed a constant stream of people who were leaving the canyon. We were fortunate not to see many people on our trip through the narrow portion of the canyon, but on the way back out we encountered a bottleneck at one of the falls where a group of a over a dozen people were climbing up the log one at a time. It took us a good 6 or seven minutes until i sort of just grabbed my chance to go down.

Making the transition from the road to rock scrambling in the stream.
One of the first areas where the stream tightens up. If you are determined you can still keep your feet dry.
The first little waterfall runs lengthwise through tilted layers.
Eventually you are forced to walk up the creek and once you are in it you realize you should have surrendered long ago.
Some of the nice vegetation that grows in the areas that have just the right amount of shade.

After the short distance the stream takes a couple of 90 degree turns.
The longest narrows section is really not very long, only about 1/4 mile before you exit and start making your way up the stream in more open, wooded terrain.
This is a neat little area where the stream splits around a boulder that protects two trees from floods.
The stream continues to climb up a series of small falls.
Deserts; Utah; Canyons; Narrows; Slots; Streams; Adventure
In a more open area of Kanarraville canyon the creek cascades down a series of ledges.
Maree gets her footing before attempting to climb up a natural slide
Deserts; Utah; Canyons; Narrows; Slots; Streams; Adventure
The upper falls has only one rope and requires climbing up a slippery log with a few awkward hand grips. You could get hurt so it’s a good turning around point. Also, this point is past most of the narrows.
Deserts; Utah; Canyons; Narrows; Slots; Streams; Adventure
A photographer takes a picture of another photographer who’s taking a picture of said photographer. It must be a cool place.

Above the second falls is an area of recent rockfall that killed a number of trees.

The fresh hewn rocks on top of the other sediments and the stripped bare trees remind you to keep your eyes and ears open.

There’s an area above the second falls is an area of recent rockfall that killed a number of trees. The fresh hewn rocks on top of the other sediments and the stripped bare trees remind you to keep your eyes and ears open.

Exiting the slot.
One of my favorite areas where the filtered light and the tree canopy made me feel like i was indoors.

Kanarraville is a very small community a few miles south of Cedar City, and the town gets most of its water from Kanarra Creek. This has become a problem in recent years as the number of people who visit the canyon has skyrocketed. The Iron County Tourism Bureau heavily promotes visitation to the area internationally, and word has spread about the hike via the internet. Many of the visitors throw trash in the creek, leave clothes in the creek or defecate on the river banks. It’s a very short hike so i don’t know why people can’t plan ahead just long enough to avoid that, but I have heard it happens often and we saw evidence of it happening during our visit too. The creek and the hike cross through three bureaucratic management areas with some of it near BLM land, some of it on SITLA land and some of it municipal. The overcrowding and poor human behavior degrade an otherwise great little hike, and with the water supply for the town being at least somewhat threatened it’s possible access may be limited in the future, if bickering management agencies can’t agree on a way to patrol the area and keep it clean.

The outskirts of Kanarraville are a disorienting sight after emerging from the canyon. This is the beginning of the Basin and Range region of the United States.
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