Saturday, January 30, 2016
Years ago I tried hiking into Little Wild Horse Canyon and Bell Canyon, which are slot canyons that cut through the San Rafael Reef near Goblin Valley State Park, but I was chased away by thunderstorms that day and have never returned to try again. Since that time the popularity of these slot canyons have exploded, which is part of the reason I had never bothered to return. I finally decided that it was time to head back this weekend to hike these San Rafael Swell classics. I was hoping that we wouldn’t run into the large crowds that these canyons attract since it’s the middle of winter, and we didn’t. We would only pass one single hiker during our entire hike and that happened on the old road used to connect the two canyons together to form a loop.
We left home early this morning, stopped to top off my fuel tank in Green River and arrived at the trailhead around 9:00am. I was surprised to find the road to the trailhead was now paved since the last time I attempted this hike I remember it was muddy and slippery after recent rains. Much of our hike within Little Wild Horse Canyon occurred when it was pretty cloudy and overcast out, so we didn’t get too much sunlight inside the canyons, but once we exited the canyon the sky cleared out a little and we were treated to sunlight and warmer temperatures. I believe the temperature actually reached the upper 50’s which made it a beautiful day for hiking in January.
A little sunlight strikes Wild Horse Butte near Goblin Valley as we drove to the trailhead.
Following the wash to Little Wild Horse Canyon.
Swiss-cheese walls as the canyon begins to narrow.
Diane in a twist of the canyon.
The canyon continued to get narrower.
Twists and turns…
After a brief opening in the canyon we reached the darkest and narrowest section.
Diane sits down to wait for me as I stop to take photos.
We stopped to check out the lines in this very cool and photogenic section of the narrows.
A little sliver of the only golden reflected light I would see all day in Little Wild Horse Canyon.
After we exited the slot canyon into the wide wash, we stopped for a snack break in the sunlight before continuing on to the Behind-the-Reef Road. We then followed the road over the divide to the drainage for Bell Canyon.
Snow in the shade as we hiked down the upper section of Bell Canyon.
Diane climbs around a big chockstone at one of the many drops in Bell Canyon we had to get down.
Low narrows of Bell Canyon.
Diane below after negotiating another small drop in the canyon.
I caught a little more reflected light in Bell Canyon.
The canyon begins to open up shortly before we exited the slot and hiked back to the trailhead.