Church Rocks—Glorious Views and Heavenly Sunsets for Nature Worshipers

Distance: ~5.2 loop

Difficulty: Easy, fire road, single track, slick rock

If you can get over the fact that you’re hiking alongside the 15 freeway (within sight and sound), this area still delivers big rewards. Whether you hike or mt. bike it, the panoramic views are stunning in every direction from Pine Valley Mt. to Zion. This area seems to capture the best golden light for spectacular sunsets. There’s more than meets the eye, here, at first it seems like just open landscape, but, there ae many nooks and crannies to explore—washes, mini slots, etc…The cluster of mammoth red, temple like, “Church Rocks” is a fun to explore. Watch for the hawks and swallows that have made this area their home.

Getting there: exit 13 from I-15 N, turn left onto Washington Pkwy and park in the parking spots. Red Cliffs Recreation area: You can access the Church Rocks Trail from the Grapevine Trail, Dino Cliffs Trail or to the south and Prospector to the north.

Note: The 100% exposed so be prepared with adequate water, hat, and sunscreen.

Find Solitude and Solace Along the Paria River

Truth is advertising, you will also find sand, mud, and little to no shade. If you’re prepared for those caveats, you’ll likely find it quite pleasant to meander up the at times dry, muddy, wet riverbed as you take in the colossal canyon walls and strange sandstone formations. Unless there’s been a recent heavy rain, the water won’t reach your ankles so either water shoes or hiking shoes work.

There are lots of options, depending upon whether you’re up for a day hike, an overnight, or a multiday adventure. I explored Buskin Gultch, the longest slot canyon n the world, on another day, but you can do both in a day (14 mile RT). Note, Buskin will always be crowded so brace yourself.

Notes: Day use permits are required – $6 per person & per dog. Use your smartphone to scan a QR Code at the trailhead or stop at the Paria Contact Station. Limited number of backcountry overnight permits available (20 per day). Plan ahead a of couple of months and reserve online. I couldn’t find the direct link, but here’s the BLM phone number & email for answers to permit questions : 435-688-3200 or email us. You can also camp near alongside the river at White House Campground. First-come, first-served basis – no reservations. Individual sites $12 per night. Interagency Senior and Access Pass Holders get 50% off. Amenities include restrooms, fire rings, and picnic tables Pay fees by cash or check at the campground fee station. Not for vehicles or trailers longer than 25 feet. Pets allowed, but must be leashed. Best time of year fall or spring – otherwise, be prepared for ice in the winter and extreme heat in the summer.

Getting there:

From the Kanab Visitor Center (BLM) in Kanab, UT travel 42.5 miles east on Highway 89 to the White House Road/BLM751. Turn right and drive two miles to the campground.

Happy Trails!

Belly of the Dragon—Quick, Fun Stop for the Kiddos, Near Kanab, UT

Distance: ~.50 mile

Difficulty: Easy, but watch your footing on the uneven surface in the dark, or use a flashlight or phone to light your way.

A quick stop photo op, the Belly of the Dragon is an old drainage canal originally created to divert water off of highway 89. The sandstone tunnel features cool ripples, making it a fun for the kiddos to explore. If you’re driving by and need a quick leg stretch and the kids are going bonkers, it’s worth a gander. Otherwise, you won’t miss out on much. Unfortunately, graffiti abounds on the sandstone walls.

Getting there: HWY89: 16 miles north of Kanab or 1/2 mile south of Carmel Junction Turn onto the dirt road on the west side and drive a 1/4 a mile to a small parking area on the left.

Exploring a “Little” Known “Wild” Slot Canyon

Yep, that’s all the clues you’re getting. It’s getting so hard to find that splendid solitude out there, so I’ve decided not to be part of the “problem.” Even though I have zilch for a following —it’s the principle of it. I’ll keep posting the mainstream hikes, but you’re going to have a work a little harder to find these “secret”, less traveled spots. I’m also available for adventure consulting should you desire a personalized “best of” Utah itinerary for your adventures here.

I’m spoilt, I’ve been to many slot canyons in UT, including the world’s longest, the world’s most renown, and perhaps the shortest and wetest(?). Located in the San Rafeal Swell area (another clue), this one had a colorful allure of it’s own. Options there include a loop hike or out and back. The oak trees at the beginning of the hike are quite dramatic.

Happy Untraveled, Untrampled Trails!