Lost in Little Wild Horse Canyon

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I think it might actually be impossible to get lost in Little Wild Horse Canyon unless you climbed up and wandered off the trail.  But I don’t know, I didn’t do that.  I didn’t even follow the whole trail.  Rounding out around 8 miles, we didn’t have time and the weather was not ideal for slot canyons.


Little Wild Horse Canyon is an awesome slot canyon in the San Rafael Swell in Southern Utah.  It’s easily accessible and makes a great day trip or stop on a Utah road trip or weekend getaway in southern Utah.

If you’re headed towards Goblin Valley, there will be signs for Little Wild Horse Canyon, too.  Instead of turning left at the T, turn right and follow the road until there’s a big parking area on the right, just before the road turns to dirt.  It’s super easy to find, I promise.


If you’ve ever been in a slot canyon, you know that you shouldn’t be if there’s much of a chance for rain.  Well, we didn’t listen to that and went anyways.  The sky over Bullfrog was dark, but it was sunny the direction we were going.

We got there and things looked fine so we pushed on.  It was sometime after 5PM that we got there, I think.  We had limited time after work.  Towards the beginning of the trail, you have to make a decision.  

It’s easy, I promise.  It’s just right or left.  We went right, and I’m glad, not that I know what is to the left, but we got to see a lot of slot canyons to the right.


We passed through I think three different slot areas that opened up between them.  In one of them, someone oh so eloquently adorned a rock with POOP.  Please don’t do that.  Anyways, this was one of my favorite places.  It wasn’t busy, it was just super cool until it was just gray above us.

There were a number of times where I voiced my worry, but we kept going.  Yes, I’m glad because I loved it in there, but I was worried.  Like really worried, but I let it go and pushed on. (2022 update, don’t push on if you’re worriied about rain in a slot canyon. Turn around.)


I think I have a fairly reasonable fear of flash floods.  I know I don’t want to be in a slot canyon again when it looks like that outside.  After the third slot section, we were in a giant cavern almost and it was getting windy.  

This is where I should let you know that wind in a slot canyon, at least this one, sounded like rushing water.  Fun, right?  Ha.  Good one.


I practically ran out of there.  As soon as we got back to the car it started lightly raining.  Good timing, right?  Even though I make it sound a little scary, go to Little Wild Horse Canyon.  I promise, it’s worth it, especially if you’re in the area.  

If you’re on a Utah road trip, this is a great stop because it’s nowhere near as busy as the National Parks and it’s an easily accessible slot canyon.  Plus, Goblin Valley is right next door.


Slot Canyon Safety

Flash floods are a huge risk in slot canyons and people die from that far too often. In May 2020 a 7-year-old girl and her 3-year-old sister died in a flash flood in Little Wild Horse Canyon, a popular slot canyon in the San Rafael Swell. This isn’t even a super narrow canyon. And it’s popular. It can happen anywhere.

In 1997, 11 hikers died in a flash flood in Antelope Canyon (the storm was 15 miles away) and that’s a huge reason you need to go with a tour now.

In 2015, seven people canyoneering also died in a flash flood in Keyhole Canyon in Zion National Park. People have even died in flash floods in The Narrows in Zion!

Flash floods are no joke kids. I haven’t seen one in a slot canyon but I did see one right as it was starting in a more open canyon and it really picked up fast. I also saw one in Zion along the Mt. Carmel Highway this summer. It was small but they just happen so fast, please be safe.

  • If you don’t feel comfortable with any climb or narrow squeeze and can turn back, do that! You don’t want to get hurt or stuck and need to be rescued. I linked tons of stories of this below.
  • Make sure you’re following the right fork. A lot of slot canyons have multiple forks or are close to other ones and ending up in the wrong one can have dire consequences (especially in the North Wash area of Utah.)

How long is the Little Wild Horse Canyon hike?

The Little Wild Horse Canyon part of the trail is 3.5-4.5 miles round-trip, depending on where exactly you turn around. But if you do the whole Little Wild Horse/Bell Canyon loop, it’s about 8 miles for the whole thing.

Don’t poop in the canyon or carve in the rocks!

Where is Little Wild Horse Canyon?

The Little Wild Horse Canyon trailhead is just a short drive from Goblin Valley State Park. On your way to Goblin Valley, you come to a T in the road and take a left.

The Little Wild Horse Canyon trailhead is to the right at the T. It is a dirt road but should be passable by any vehicle. The parking area is marked.


Is the Little Wild Horse Canyon trail hard?

The section we did wasn’t but I can’t speak for the entire loop. If most of it is through sand, which this part was, I could imagine it would be a little tougher. I think the distance is what would make it difficult. There are 800 feet of elevation gain which isn’t terrible considering the length of the whole loop.

If you want something easier, just do the out and back version of Little Wild Horse Canyon, without the Bell Canyon part which makes the trail about half the distance round-trip.


Is Little Wild Horse Canyon worth it?

Yes! While I didn’t do the whole thing, I would still say even just doing some of it is worth it since the whole loop is pretty long. If you’re already planning to visit Goblin Valley, this is close enough to visit in the same day.


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Have you been to Little Wild Horse Canyon?  What did you think of it? Do you want to go?  What is your favorite slot canyon?

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