If you are planning a trip to southern Utah and looking for something fun to do away from the crowds of the national parks, check out the Kanarra Falls hike! Located just an hour from Zion National Park and under two hours from Bryce Canyon, the Kanarra Falls hike is a great opportunity to escape the crowds and explore a lesser known gem in southern Utah. This 4 mile roundtrip trek follows Kanarra Creek upstream into a beautiful slot canyon with two waterfalls, and includes some moderate rock scrambling, a climb up a ladder and hiking through ankle-deep water. It truly is a perfect adventure!
- About Kanarra Falls
- Overview | Kanarra Falls hike
- Details | Kanarra Falls hike
Hi there! We’re Sarah and Matt, two nomads road tripping across the United States with our cat, Fitzgerald, making a new place our home month to month while working full time and adventuring as much as possible. We spend any free time we can get hiking, camping, backpacking, and exploring new places! We hope that our experiences will help you plan for your next adventure and inspire you to be an outlier!
let’s be friends
About Kanarra Falls
Kanarra Falls (also known as Kanarra Creek or Kanarraville Falls) is a slot canyon located just outside of Kanarraville in southern Utah, north of Zion National Park and southwest of Bryce Canyon National Park.
In many ways, Kanarra Falls reminds us of a mini-version of the Zion Narrows. The hike requires walking through a stream that leads into a beautiful slot canyon with several waterfalls and pools of water. Compared to the Zion Narrows, you can expect lower water levels (typically not above ankle deep) and fewer crowds!
Although the hike has been growing in popularity in recent years, you can still expect to find some solitude along the route as permits are required with a limit of 150 hikers per day. While the Kanarra slot canyon is smaller (both in height and length) than the Zion Narrows, is absolutely beautiful and worth a visit nonetheless!
Be respectful to this beautiful place!
Kanarra Falls is a beautiful natural wonder. Please help keep it that way! Do not carve or vandalize the rock or leave behind trash. Use the restrooms provided as the trailhead. Walk on defined trails along the river where possible.
Remember to Leave No Trace. Pack out what you pack in, stay on trail, be well-prepared, leave nothing behind, take only photos and memories with you, treat the area with respect and help preserve this beautiful spot for generations to come.
Overview | Kanarra Falls hike
- Hiking distance | 4 miles
- Elevation gain | 800 feet
- Total time | 3 – 4 hours
- Epic-ness rating | 7
- Difficulty | Moderate
- Fees | $12 permit required
- Location | Spring Creek Canyon Wilderness (southern Utah, north of Zion)
Find this hike on AllTrails: Kanarra Creek Canyon Trail
Note that AllTrails says the hike is 6 miles, but it is actually 4.
- Beautiful slot canyon with two waterfalls
- Similar to landscape as Zion Narrows
- Limited crowds due to permit system
- Advance permits are required costing $12 per person.
- Permits sell out and can be tough to get
- A few challenging (but fun!) scrambles required
How difficult is the Kanarra Falls hike?
The majority of the Kanarra Falls hike is fairly easy with mild elevation gain. Before it was replaced, the toughest part of the hike was climbing a rickety ladder to pass beyond the first waterfall. However, that ladder has been upgraded with a more sturdy metal ladder with railings.
Following the first waterfall, there is a moderately challenging scramble that involves climbing up a log that is placed against the rock. As long as you have hiking boots with good traction, you shouldn’t have too much scrambling up the log.
Finally, the last half of the trail requires hiking through shallow water, which adds an extra bit of difficulty and will slow down your pace.
How to get permits for the Kanarra Falls hike
Permits are required to hike Kanarra Falls, and due to a recent increase in popularity, permits often sell out in advance, especially on weekends during the spring through fall. The permits are bit pricey (at $12 per person) for a shorter day hike, but with only 150 hikers allowed each day, the permitting system is successful in managing the crowds.
Below are a few more details on how to get permits for Kanarra Falls:
- Tickets are $12 per person and are non-refundable.
- Permits are available online in advance or at the trailhead. However, I’d highly recommend purchasing in advance because they will sell out.
- If you purchase your permit in advance, make sure you have it screen-shotted or printed before you go. You will need to show it to an attendant at a kiosk next to the trailhead.
- Tickets for the year are typically released in January or February.
When is the best time to hike Kanarra Falls?
The best time to hike Kanarra Falls is spring through fall (roughly April through October). During the winter, the stream often freezes which can make the trail very slick and difficult to maneuver. If you plan to hike during the winter, make sure to bring a pair of microspikes and hiking poles.
Earlier in the spring, you can expect the water to be quite cold. The hike is definitely still doable, but it may not be as enjoyable. If you plan to hike in the early spring or late fall, we’d recommend a pair of neoprene socks to help keep your feet warm.
Although summers in the area get very hot, much of the trail is shaded and the water is great for cooling off, making the warmer months a good time to hike. However, be aware that flash floods are most common from July through August due to summer thunderstorms.
Because the Kanarra Falls hike leads through a slot canyon, you should not attempt this hike if it has recently rained or there is rain in the forecast due to flash flood danger. Be sure to check weather conditions before you go, check in with a park ranger and always use your best judgement.
Things to know before you go
Below are a few details to be aware of before you hike to help you have the best experience.
- The road to the parking lot is paved and accessible with any vehicle.
- Restrooms are located at the trailhead.
- Dogs are not permitted on the trail.
- The hike ends at the second waterfall. For your safety, you should turn back here.
- The majority of the Kanarra Falls hike is suitable for children, although it may be wise to turn back at the first waterfall due to some moderately challenging rock scrambles.
- Kanarra Creek provides water to the town of Kanarraville. Be sure to treat the area with respect – clean up after yourself, use provided restrooms and leave pets at home.
Kanarra Falls packing list
Below are a few items we recommend packing for the Kanarra Falls hike:
- Kanarra Falls permits | If you purchase permits in advance, be sure to have a screenshot saved on your phone.
- Neoprene socks | For keeping your feet warm if hiking during fall through spring.
- Hiking poles (Hers: Black Diamond Distance Z poles, His: Black Diamond Distance FLZ poles ) | Great for extra stability for stream crossings and hiking through the rocky riverbed.
- Water shoes or hiking sandals | To avoid getting your boots or tennis shoes wet.
- Camera (Canon M100)| Because its darker in the canyon, it’s difficult to get good photos on a phone. The Canon M100 is a great small camera for hiking.
- Dry bag | To protect your phone and valuables in case you fall in the water (it can get very slippery!) and from mist from the waterfall as you climb up the ladder.
- If you’re bringing a camera, I’d definitely recommend bringing something to keep it safe and dry. I always use my Matador Base Layer for hiking, which includes a water resistant outer layer.
Kanarra Falls Hike Details
In the section below, we’ll provide detailed information about the Kanarra Falls hike so you know what to expect.
I hiked Kanarra Falls solo on a spring afternoon in April. The trail was not crowded and I passed just a handful of other hikers. This was my second attempt at hiking Kanarra Falls. The first time I bought permits it ended up raining so I made the decision not to go.
Especially since I was hiking alone, I was a little nervous about the scrambling and sketchy ladder. However, I thought the hike ended up being a ton of fun and the obstacles along the way were a nice challenge, without being too scary or dangerous.
Parking and getting to the trailhead
The Kanarra Falls hike starts from the Kanarra Creek Trailhead, located in the town of Kanarraville, Utah. The trailhead is just a few minutes off I85, about 20 minutes from Cedar City, 45 minutes from St. George, and 1 hour from Zion National Park.
The parking lot and road to the trailhead are paved, making it easily accessible for any vehicle. There is plenty of space and I didn’t have any trouble finding a spot, but if you are hiking on a weekend you may have a different experience. The parking lot does not have spaces suitable for large RV’s.
Starting the hike
When you arrive at the parking lot, first visit the kiosk near the trailhead to either purchase permits or show your pre-purchased tickets to the attendant. They will give you a map of the trail, marking the location of the two waterfalls.
The hike starts out along a gravel road with a moderate incline. After a quarter-mile , you will reach the first stream crossing. A few rocks are placed across the stream to help you cross, but having a pair of hiking poles is definitely helpful for stability.
At about 1 mile into the hike, the trail once again intersects Kanarra Creek and then continues along the water. It’s probably easier to just walk through the stream than to continue to try to avoid getting wet. At this point, I changed into my Chacos and embraced the chilly water!
If you choose not to walk through the creek, make sure to stay on the trail to avoid further erosion of the banks.
Entering the Slot Canyon
As you walk upstream, the canyon walls start to slowly get narrower. A mile and a half into the hike, you will round a bend and enter the slot canyon.
The rippling orange canyon walls and crystal clear stream make for an incredible sight! I thought this was the most beautiful part of the hike.
Shortly after entering the slot canyon, you will come upon the first waterfall. The falls tumble roughly 20 feet over the rock wall and the ladder sits to the right of the falls.
This section used to involve climbing up a slippery, rickety set of ladder rungs attached to a log (see photos below). However, the ladder has recently been replaced with a new, more sturdy, and admittedly less picturesque ladder (it’s more like a metal staircase than a ladder!).
I haven’t done the hike since the new “ladder” was installed, but take a quick look at photos on AllTrails and you will see what I mean! Despite being less picturesque, the new ladder certainly looks easier to navigate, and shouldn’t pose much trouble for you to pass.
After climbing the ladder beside the first waterfall, the next obstacle is a moderate rock scramble to the right of a massive boulder in the middle of the canyon. If you look at the pictures below, you can see the logs to the right of the boulder which bring you up and around the large boulder.
The climb isn’t too high, but the slippery rock makes it a bit tough. A pair of shoes with good traction will definitely be helpful here.
After passing the boulder, you will come upon a small water pool and wider section of the canyon, making a spot for a quick break.
The canyon narrows again and you will come upon the second waterfall, located about 2 miles into the hike. The second waterfall marks the end of the hike and the turn around point. Although some people will try to continue past this point, there is no clear safe way to climb up.
At this point, it is time to turn around and head back down the creek through the slot canyon and to your car.
Other hikes nearby
Planning a trip hiking in southern Utah? We think you may be interested in the following hikes, located in close proximity to Kanarra Falls.
- Scout Cave in Snow Canyon State Park | 1 hour from Kanarra Falls trailhead
- Snow Canyon Lava Tubes & Petrified Dunes | 1 hour from trailhead
- West Rim Trail in Zion | 45 minutes from Kanarra Falls trailhead
- Scout Lookout in Zion | 45 minutes from trailhead
- Figure 8 Loop in Bryce Canyon | 2 hours from trailhead
- Red Reef Trail in Red Cliffs Recreation Area | 40 minutes from trailhead
For all things Utah: Utah Travel Guide
Questions or comments about the Kanarra Falls hike? Let us know in the comments below!