Little Wild Horse Canyon -> Bell Canyon Loop

Link two of the most popular canyons in the San Rafael Swell.

Hiking Severe

Distance
13 km
Ascent
456 m
Descent
456 m
Duration
3-4 hrs
Low Point
1.5 km
High Point
1.7 km
Gradient
14˚
Little Wild Horse Canyon -> Bell Canyon Loop Map

Little Wild Horse and Bell Canyons are two of the most popular slot canyons in the San Rafael Swell. While many people choose to hike an out-and-back in Little Wild Horse on its own, it's also possible to combine both of these canyons into an epic 8.5-mile loop. That loop option is mapped here.

Description

Little Wild Horse is one of the least-technical slot canyons in the area. The first mile and half is largely bereft of obstacles. Later on, you'll have to negotiate a few drop-offs and rock shelves, which could include drops into pools of water, depending on the season.

"The main attraction is a long stretch of 'narrows,' where the canyon walls are so close you have to turn sideways to get through," writes Utah.com. "The rock walls are sculpted and very beautiful."

After exiting Little Wild Horse Canyon, turn left on the dirt road and walk about two miles to reach the beginning of Bell Canyon. Bell Canyon "is just 1.5 miles long and is narrow, albeit rather shallow, for most of its length, and has a great variety of rock forms, textures and colors, unlike most slot canyons that pass through a single homogenous layer," according to AmericanSouthwest.net. The bottom of the canyon is quite rocky and filled with boulders, but aside from a few small dryfalls, there aren't too many obstacles to be conquered.

Once Bell Canyon rejoins Little Wild Horse, take a right turn to return to the trailhead.

Before you hike into the canyon, be sure to check the weather to see if there's any indication that there might be any rain in the area. One of the most severe dangers in a slot canyon is the very real possibility of flash floods, with no way to escape. VisitUtah.com recommends that you "always check the weather before visiting any slot canyon. Even light, distant rainfall can render slot canyons extremely dangerous" due to flash floods. Always treat this wilderness landscape with the utmost respect.

Sources: https://www.visitutah.com/articles/non-technical-slot-canyons-roundup https://www.utah.com/destinations/regions/the-holey-land/little-wild-horse-canyon/ https://www.americansouthwest.net/slotcanyons/bellcanyon/index.html#:~:text=Length%3A%201.8%20miles%2C%20to%20the,best%3B%20summers%20are%20very%20hot

Difficulty

Severe

Hiking challenging trails where simple scrambling, with the occasional use of the hands, is a distinct possibility. The trails are often filled with all manner of obstacles both small and large, and the hills are very steep. Obstacles and challenges are often unexpected and can be unpredictable.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.

Remoteness

3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

in March, April, May, June, September, October and November

Features

  • Picturesque
  • Water features

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area