Little Wild Horse Canyon
San Rafael Swell Trail Guide created by Nick
  • Overview

    With seemingly endless narrows and easy access, Little Wild Horse Canyon is one of the best non-technical, family-friendly slot canyon hikes in the state of Utah. The canyon stays very narrow for much of its length, sometimes to the point where most people will need to turn sideways to squeeze through. This hike is suitable for most healthy adults and children but does involve some minor scrambling over obstacles such as rocks and small dryfalls.

    Trailhead

    The Little Wild Horse Canyon Trailhead (38.582782,-110.802882) is located on Wild Horse Road (County Rd 1013), about 6 miles west of Goblin Valley State Park.
    From Green River, Utah:
    1. Drive west on Interstate 70 for about 11 miles to Exit 149 for Highway 24.
    2. Continue south on Highway 24 for approximately 24.2 miles.
    3. Turn right at the signed turnoff to Goblin Valley via the Temple Mountain Road.
    4. Drive 5.2 miles then turn left onto Goblin Valley Road.
    5. Continue approximately 6.1 miles and turn right onto Wild Horse Road.
    6. Drive 5.4 miles to the signed trailhead on the right side of the road. There are restrooms available at the trailhead.

    The Hike

    The hike begins by following a well-worn path north from the trailhead across a sandy bench. Soon the trail enters the dry wash bottom. From this point on there is no maintained trail as the route follows the watercourse. After about a half mile a small dryfall is encountered that may at first appear impassable but is easy to bypass by climbing around the left side.

    About 100 yards past the dryfall, a small canyon appears on the right. Turn right here into Little Wild Horse Canyon. A small sign near the confluence is typically present to aid in navigation. Continuing up the canyon to the left will take you up Bell Canyon. Once in Little Wild Horse Canyon, the walls quickly begin to narrow as the canyon bends and twists through beautiful sculpted sandstone.

    After some tight, slanted narrows, the canyon opens for a short distance before entering the narrowest part of the hike. This next stretch contains the most difficult obstacles you will encounter. Small pools of water may be present and there are a few minor obstacles that require a little climbing. Most hikers can easily scramble through without help but small children and less experienced hikers may require assistance.

    Continue up canyon, tackling small obstacles as you go. The route passes through one more cavernous opening before going back through a long, sustained section of narrows. The formations in this part of the canyon are fascinating. Thousands of tiny pockets line the walls in places, making it feel like you are walking through a tunnel of Swiss cheese.

    The narrows end at a small dryfall. Round trip distance to this point and back the way you came is approximately 4.5 miles.

    CAUTION: Before beginning this hike, be sure that there is no chance of significant precipitation forecasted in the area. Even a distant storm, unseen from the trailhead can cause this drainage to flash flood, which could be fatal if you are trapped inside. If you have any doubts, do not enter the canyon, as there are very few opportunities for escape to high ground.

    Permits & Regulations

    No permits required.

    This area receives a lot of traffic. Do your part to leave it the way you found it. Don't make marks on walls.

    Relevant Books & Maps

Miss Buffalo likes this.
  1. Nick
    If you can lift him up through the lower obstacles, you should be good on that one.
  2. Bob Palin
    We'll see what they do, the smaller one Frikka doesn't mind being handled but Biff (75lb) is sometimes a PITA about it.
  3. Nick
    Hey Bob. You could definitely get a dog over it by picking them up and pushing them over. Most pups probably couldn't do it without assistance though.
  4. Bob Palin
    "may at first appear impassable but is easy to bypass by climbing around the left side."

    Could you expand on this a little, would dogs be able to 'climb' this?

    (I just read Nick's report and it looks like it's not a problem, my dogs scramble well and don't care about narrow confines.)
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