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Little Wild Horse Canyon & Bell Canyon

Saturday, January 30, 2016

A scenic location inside Little Wild Horse Canyon within the San Rafael Reef.

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.

Wild Horse Butte

Following the wash to Little Wild Horse Canyon.

Under the Cottonwood

Swiss-cheese walls as the canyon begins to narrow.

Swiss Cheese

Diane in a twist of the canyon.

Diane in LWHC

The canyon continued to get narrower.

Slot Floor

Twists and turns…


Around the Bend

After a brief opening in the canyon we reached the darkest and narrowest section.

Dark Corridor

The Darkest Part

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.

Center of Attention

A little sliver of the only golden reflected light I would see all day in Little Wild Horse Canyon.

Distant Glow

Touch of Color

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.

Little Wild Horse Wash

Snow in the shade as we hiked down the upper section of Bell Canyon.

Upper Canyon Snow

Diane climbs around a big chockstone at one of the many drops in Bell Canyon we had to get down.

Around the Boulder

Low narrows of Bell Canyon.

Bell Canyon

Diane below after negotiating another small drop in the canyon.

Diane Below


I caught a little more reflected light in Bell Canyon.

Light at the End of the Tunnel

The canyon begins to open up shortly before we exited the slot and hiked back to the trailhead.

Leaving Bell



>> Little Wild Horse Canyon & Bell Canyon Photo Gallery

One Comment

  1. Richard R. Barron
    Richard R. Barron February 1, 2016

    I haven’t been there in 11 years. It’s nice to see these features are still just as beautiful. Great stuff.

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