We are Josh and Val from Dueling Journeys. Welcome to our article on Little Wild Horse Canyon. Josh is a midwest boy from Indiana and Val grew up in New York and Massachusetts. We met while living in New York City in 2015. “Adventures” were part of our life together from the beginning.
On our second date we kayaked in the Hudson River around the tip in New York City. In 2016, we decided to take the plunge and head west, moving to Seattle. It was there that our love of travel and exploration pushed us to do something different. In 2019, we sold our house and 90% of what we owned, packed up our few remaining belongings and pulled away with our RV. We became digital nomads and didn’t even know it was a thing!
Our Experience at Little Wild Horse Canyon
As we made our way south in the fall we knew we wanted to explore the Mighty 5 in Utah (Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands and Arches) but we also knew we wanted to find some special, less explored areas of Utah as well. After doing some route planning we came across Goblin Valley. We knew we had to plan our route around this area.
In addition to this martian-like state park, there was also this accessible slot canyon called Little Wild Horse Canyon within a couple miles of the state park entrance. We had never hiked a slot canyon before visiting Little Wild Horse Canyon and it was the perfect first experience for us. Little Wild Horse Canyon is the perfect slot canyon introduction for adults or children.
If you have dreamed of experiencing the colors, waves and textures of a slot canyon in Utah but are not prepared or able to use climbing equipment, this hike is perfect. Unlike many other slot canyons, this canyon is also relatively easy to access as the roads into the canyon are well maintained. There is a dedicated parking lot at the trailhead and by giving you different hiking routes, this means that the hike should be on everyone’s bucket list!
Hiking Options at Little Wild Horse Canyon
Little Wild Horse Canyon offers two options for hiking. You can hike an in and out route that is 3.5 miles long and can take 3-4 hours depending on how crowded the slots are and how many pictures you stop to take. Your second option, which we hiked, is the 8 mile loop and can take 4-6 hours.
The best thing about these hikes is that you can experience a slot canyon without climbing equipment or expert skills. There are areas of the canyon that become true slots that you have to shimmy through and other areas that open up and are great spots to take a break and have some water.
As with many slot canyon hikes, there is little coverage from the sun, little to no breeze and it can get hot. Regardless of which hike you choose, you are going to have to scramble at times over rocks. Coming prepared is of vital importance, especially if you hike with kids. Bring water, proper shoes and know what you can handle. There is no cell service within the canyon but there are many people that you will pass if you need help.
Where to Stay near Little Wild Horse Canyon
This canyon is pretty far from any large city. The closest place is Hanksville, 30 minutes from the trail. If you have an RV this is a great option as there is free dispersed camping and a campground within 10 minutes of the trail. A bonus, however, is that this canyon falls right between Capital Reef and Canyonland. If you plan to visit either of these parks you could visit Little Wild Horse Canyon, getting up early enough and traveling to the canyon.
Need to Know Before you Go
No permit is required for Little Wild Horse Canyon but the parking lot fills up and you may have to wait for people to leave before you get a spot. Going early is a good idea to hike the canyon without crowds. While the canyon is more accessible than others, you still need to come prepared.
All slot canyons in the United States can experience flash flooding and it’s highly recommended to check the weather before heading out on this hike. You should never hike a slot canyon if it’s going to rain! Also, bring enough food, water and sunscreen for the time you are going to be hiking.
We always tell at least one person where we are going when we are hiking somewhere with no service, and we let them know when we are done. We want someone to know we have made it out safely. We suggest you do the same. Lastly, take your time and enjoy it! This hike is a lot of fun.
We would like to leave you with our favorite moment from this trip. As we hiked past an area where many people had stopped for a water break, we found ourselves completely alone in the slots. We felt like little kids again playing, climbing and laughing. The sun was coming into the slots in the most magical direction and it literally felt like the walls were glowing!