The Zion National Park area is famous for its excellent slot canyons. Many of the slot canyons are extremely popular and receive a lot of foot traffic. However, in the Kolob Canyons area, you'll find a number of slot canyons that are beautiful, challenging, and, depending on the time of year, rarely visited. In this article, we focus on a handful of slot canyons that are close to our campground and that are much less traveled than some of the more well-known slot canyons in Zions.

Spring Creek Canyon

  • Distance from us: 4.6 miles, 7 minutes
  • Length: 5.3 miles out-and-back
  • Elevation change: 940 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy

Spring Creek Canyon is an excellent introduction to canyoneering. It's easy to get to, easy to get through, and uncrowded. The canyon is outside of Zion National Park, not too far off I-15 at the Kanarraville exit. The trailhead is less than a mile off one of Kanarravile's main streets.

A small stream runs into the first part of the Spring Creek Canyon. At about 1.5 miles in, the canyon narrows quite a bit, the stream begins to dry up, and the walls become dark red Navajo sandstone. At that point, things become interesting. You'll have to maneuver around boulders and dry falls. After about 2.75 miles, the canyon forks and becomes quite overgrown. Hiking is much more difficult at that point.

Spring Creek Canyon is part of a Wilderness Study Area and is technically closed to ATVs and other mechanized vehicles. Dogs are allowed.

Kanarra Creek

  • Distance from us: 4.7 miles, 7 minutes
  • Length: 3.8 miles out-and-back
  • Elevation change: 600 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Kanarra Creek is an excellent slot canyon just east of Kanarraville, Utah. The trailhead is not too far off Main Street in Kanarraville.

Hiking in the canyon can be challenging due to a couple of waterfalls that flow year-round. You'll be in cold water for a significant part of the trip. The water is usually around a foot deep, but it can get up to waist deep. The first part of the hike is relatively open, but, at about a mile in, it becomes a genuine slot canyon. The trail twists and turns past the two very photogenic waterfalls. After that, you can simply turn around and head back or continue up the canyon.

Note that, during certain times of the year, Kanarra Creek is a very popular slot canyon. Expect to see crowds during the summer and fall. Also, you have to purchase a $12 permit to visit Kanarra Creek. Permits are limited and do sell out at times. Call ahead. Dogs are not allowed.

Beartrap Canyon

  • Distance from us: 22.5 miles, 64 minutes
  • Length: 17 miles round trip
  • Elevation change: 2,000 feet
  • Difficulty: Difficult

Beartrap Canyon is a remote and isolated loop that starts at the Lee Pass Trailhead off Kolob Canyons Road and winds through rarely visited sections of Kolob.

The first few miles of the hike follows La Verkin Creek Trail, with a steep descent along Timber Creek. (You'll cross La Verkin Creek several times prior to reaching Beartrap Canyon. Expect to get wet.) You'll need to consider the campsites along the way as trail markers. Beartrap Canyon is on the right side of La Verkin Creek just past campsite 13.

Once you reach Beartrap Canyon, you'll see that the hike is definitely worth the effort. The first section of the canyon is dry and filled with lush, beautiful vegetation. A short distance into the canyon, you'll encounter Beartrap Canyon Falls, a stunning 30-foot waterfall that is the turn-around point. If you want to continue past the falls, you'll need to have equipment to make a short (30-40 foot) rappel. 

Parunuweap Canyon (The Barracks)

  • Distance from us: 38.3 miles, 43 minutes
  • Length: 20.6 miles point-to-point
  • Elevation gain: 4,763 feet point-to-point
  • Difficulty: Hard

Parunuweap Canyon is a remote, seldom visited canyoneering area that follows the East Fork of the Virgin River. The trail into the canyon begins about a mile south of Mount Caramel Junction. While the hike doesn't require technical canyoneering skills, it does require good navigation skills (map reading, etc.) and stamina. You'll spend a lot of time maneuvering over slick rocks, over sand, and through deep water. It is not an easy hike. The canyon does become very narrow and very deep in some areas. Make sure you check weather conditions before attempting this hike since floods are common.