Looking for an alternative to the Narrows? Kanarra Falls, a smaller version of the iconic hike, with just as much adventure to be had. In this guide we’re sharing everything you need to know before you go, including getting permits, what to expect, and more!
During our first visit to Zion National Park we hiked to the Narrows, a fun hiking adventure where you hike through water and canyons. It was one of our favorite experiences, but during our most recent visit (March 2021), we didn’t want to deal with the park shuttle headache and set our sights on visiting hikes both in and outside of the park that we could easily drive to, but still gave us beautiful views and fun experiences.
Enter: Kanarra Falls.
While not located in Zion National Park, but closeby, Kanarra Falls is a smaller scale version of the iconic hike, with water to walk through, a slot canyon, a ladder, and the potential to see three waterfalls, with the bonus of a capacity limit, making the hike never too crowded.
We set out on this hike one chilly spring morning and had an absolute blast trudging through the ICE COLD water (it was in the 30’s so we hear!), walking through the slot canyon, climbing up the ladder, with a waterfall rushing beside us. It quickly became one of our favorite hikes we have ever done, even if our hands were a bit numb and our feet a bit squishy by the end of it.
However, similar to the Narrows, there are quite a few important rules, permit information, and safety precautions to know before visiting Kanarra Falls. And in this guide, we’re sharing everything you need to know to add this adventurous hike to your Southern Utah adventures!
Looking for more things to do in Southern Utah? Check out our other guides:
- 10 Day Utah National Park Road Trip Itinerary
- 3 Days in Zion and Bryce
- How to hike to Observation Point at Zion National Park
- Hiking the Narrows at Zion National Park
- Things to do in Kanab, UT
- Visiting the Toadstool Hoodoos
- Hiking Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch
- All of our Utah Vlogs
- All of our Utah Guides
Before embarking on your adventure, please review the Leave No Trace principles to ensure you leave every place better than you found it, so that others can enjoy these beautiful places for many years to come!
These seven principles include planning ahead and preparing, hiking and camping on durable surfaces, disposing of waste properly (pack out what you pack in!), understanding campfire rules and always fully extinguishing your fires, respecting wildlife, and being considerate of other visitors.
- About Kanarra Falls
- Where is Kanarra Falls?
- Permits + Rules for visiting Kanarra Falls
- Safety Warning for Kanarra Falls
- Kanarra Falls Trail Stats & Details
- When to visit Kanarra Falls
- What to Bring
- Things to know before visiting Kanarra Falls
- Our Experience at Kanarra Falls
- What to do before or after Kanarra Falls
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About Kanarra Falls
Once a secret to Kanarraville locals, Kanarra Falls is now a popular hiking adventure, just northwest of Zion Canyon, that features slot canyons, river crossings, a 15 foot ladder, boulders to climb, 2 waterfalls, and more!
As we mentioned above, it’s considered a good alternative to the Narrows if you’re unable to get a Zion shuttle ticket, as you get a similar experience walking through water. But in our experience, Kanarra Falls is less crowded and a bit more adventurous!
One thing to note is that there are a few different names for this hike. We (and the official website) call it Kanarra Falls, but we have also heard it called Kanarra Creek Falls, Kanarra Creek Canyon Trail, and Kanarraville Falls. All of these names refer to the same hike!
Where is Kanarra Falls?
Kanarra Falls is located in Kanarraville, Utah, which is a small town near Cedar City and right by the Kolob Canyons area of Zion National Park (which we highly recommend checking out!).
From the popular Zion Canyon area of the park, it’s about a 1 hour drive northwest to Kanarra Falls, but totally worth the slight detour.
The trailhead for Kanarra Falls (which is called Kanarra Creek Trailhead on Google Maps) is close to I-15 and is fully paved on the way there, making it totally doable for any type of car. And along the way, you’ll have mountain views and pass by beautiful farms (at least coming from the north!). And if you get a very early start like us, you may see hundreds of deer enjoying a grassy breakfast!
Permits + Rules for visiting Kanarra Falls
Due to Kanarra Falls’ popularity and to preserve its beauty for many years to come, there are a handful of rules and requirements before visiting this special place.
Only 150 hikers are allowed per day
Kanarra Falls is limited to 150 hikers per day, which we personally love! We hear that before the permit system, this place could get pretty packed, which not only takes away from the experience, but can cause harm to its natural beauty.
You must purchase a permit
In order to be one of the lucky 150, you must purchase a permit. These permits are $12 a person (ages 4 and above) and are sold online. However, due to the hike’s popularity, these tickets are selling out weeks in advance, so make sure to buy them early! At the time of writing this guide on May 26, permits were already sold out through July 12, plus many dates through August…CRAZY!
We got our permits about 6 weeks in advance and were one of the first ones to do so, but they did sell out before our visit (end of March around Spring Break). Make sure to bring a copy of your tickets with you on your phone!
Dogs are not allowed
Despite not being in a national park, dogs are not allowed at Kanarra Falls. The big reason for this is that Kanarra Creek is the watershed for Kanarraville and dog feces can contaminate the water. And this should go without saying, but human feces can do the same, as well as trash, so please do not contaminate the water. 🙂
Safety Warning for Kanarra Falls
Similar to the Narrows, there are some important safety warnings to know about before attempting Kanarra Falls.
As with all slot canyons, Kanarra Falls is very susceptible to flash floods, which can occur year round, but especially in July, August, and September, when there are higher chances of afternoon thunderstorms.
Make sure to check the weather reports before your visit and set out on your hike. Do NOT hike to Kanarra Falls if there is rain or storms in the forecast. Even rain miles away can flood the slot canyon.
Kanarra Falls sometimes will close if there is a threat of heavy rain or thunderstorms, but please make sure to check the weather beforehand and do not risk your safety for this hike.
Kanarra Falls Trail Stats & Details
Miles: 6 miles
Elevation: 1,017 feet
Reviews & Current Conditions
The Kanarra Falls hike is a total of 6 miles roundtrip, according to AllTrails, and features 2 major waterfalls to hike to. However, you do not have to do the entire hike to experience this trail’s beauty and uniqueness. In fact, due to not feeling super comfortable, we turned around before the end, which we will discuss more in a bit.
But if you were to do the full trail, here’s a quick rundown of what to expect:
- After checking in at the booth with your permit, the trail starts off with an uphill climb. This is the hardest part from a fitness perspective.
- After making it uphill, you’ll reach the creek for the first time, but you likely will not have to get your feet wet…yet.
- You’ll stay on a dirt path for a bit, before starting to follow the creek for the rest of the way, going back and forth across it many times.
- There are orange flags to follow along the way, so make sure to pay attention to those to know where the trail is, as it can be hard to follow at times.
- As you get closer to the slot canyon (1-1.3 miles in), you’ll start walking in the water.
- Once you reach the slot canyon, you’re very close to the first waterfall, which is the most iconic of the hike and features a 15 foot ladder to climb up.
- If you choose to climb up this ladder (do not attempt if icy!), you will then walk through more water to a small waterfall and some boulders on the right side that you need to climb up. There are no ropes to assist you with this and it can be difficult (this is where we turned around).
- If you continue, you’ll reach a natural waterslide and pool and if it’s warm out, this can be a good place to take a dip.
- Shortly after this, you’ll reach a second slot canyon and the second major waterfall. This is where you need to turn around. While some people have created ways to get past this area, Kanarra Falls highly recommends turning around here, as beyond this point is where people have been injured and it can take a while to get help.
- You will go back the same way you came, so you’ll get to relive the adventure again!
When to visit Kanarra Falls
While Kanarra Falls is open year round, there are specific things to consider depending on the season you visit.
Winter can be a very cool time to visit Kanarra Falls, as the falls and ladder can ice over, making it feel like a winter wonderland. While the water is cold year round, in the winter the water will be close to freezing, so you will need to wear more gear to keep yourself warmer, such as neoprene socks and waders.
The spring brings more bearable temperatures outside, but with the water in Kanarra Creek still being close to freezing, plus the snowmelt causing the creek to have higher water levels, it can be a very cold experience. We hiked at the end of March and while the water was extremely cold, the water levels were thankfully only calf deep or so.
Summer will bring the best temperatures outside and slightly warmer water temperatures, but it does bring a chance of thunderstorms, which can make the hike dangerous. If you plan to visit in the summer, make sure you check the weather and start early. The water levels will be lower during this time, although you will still get wet.
Fall is a great time to hike to Kanarra Falls! The water levels will still be lower and not as cold as the winter, plus the afternoon thunderstorm chances are lower.
Time of day
And as for timing, go early to beat the crowds! While it may feel colder outside, getting to have the first waterfall and ladder to yourself is totally worth it!
What to Bring
As always, we recommend having the 10 essentials on you when doing any hike, but here are a few key items we want to point out that will especially help you during this hike!
We highly recommend renting or buying some gear to hike to Kanarra Falls. During our visit we decided at the last minute to get neoprene socks, which helped keep our feet warmer BIG time! We had a hard time tracking some down, but got some at Ace Hardware in Cedar City. We suggest being more prepared and buying neoprene socks ahead of time!
Beyond neoprene socks, we’d suggest having waterproof boots to help keep your feet a bit warmer. Adam’s shoes are not waterproof and his feet were a lot colder than mine (I wear Lowa Renegade hiking boots).
You could also rent neoprene socks and canyoneering boots from one of the outfitters in Springdale, like Zion Outfitter, Zion Guru, and Zion Adventures! And if you plan to hike in the winter or early spring, when the water is higher, we’d suggest also renting dry pants and dry bibs. While these rental shops are 1 hour from the trail, if you plan to visit Zion before and after this hike, it would be a convenient stop and worth the money!
Regardless if you buy or rent gear for the hike, make sure to have sturdy shoes that can handle walking through water and on slick rocks. And have some warm socks and shoes ready for after your hike!
Make sure to pack water! We love our Camelbak bladder for hikes because it stores a ton of water and it’s easy to drink from while moving.
Even in the summer, Kanarra Falls can be quite cool, as the sun can be blocked by the tall canyon walls. Make sure to pack layers!
It is safe to say you might slip and fall into the water at some point in your hike. Be sure to have some sort of waterproof solution for your electronics and other items that could be damaged by water. We have this dry bag for kayaking and other water activities.
We’d highly recommend downloading the AllTrails map before you go. While there are orange flags tied onto trees to help you along the hike, it can get confusing at times and it’s helpful to track your progress on the trail. You will need an AllTrails Pro membership to download maps, which is $30 a year and so worth it!
Things to know before visiting Kanarra Falls
Before you get ready to hit the trail, here are a few more things to know about Kanarra Falls to make sure you’re prepared for your visit.
Kanarra Falls is open from dawn to dusk year round, but between March and October the hike is staffed. They will check your ticket before you hit the trail, so make sure to have it on your phone.
There is a large parking lot for Kanarra Falls and when we arrived at sunrise we were the first car there and when we returned, the parking lot only had a few more cars. So you should have no issues parking!
There are restrooms at the parking lot and also after you hike up the initial hill, right before you reach the creek for the first time. So you have a couple different chances to go to the restroom before the hike!
There is a water spigot in the parking lot to wash your shoes and feet off after the hike if needed. Please do not clean your shoes in the bathroom.
Our Experience at Kanarra Falls
While we have covered everything you need to know before visiting Kanarra Falls above, here is a quick recap of our experience on the hike, including why we did not finish the hike.
We arrived at the Kanarra Falls parking lot just as the sun was coming up on a Saturday morning, hoping to beat the crowds to this popular hike. While the permit system definitely keeps the crowds down, we were worried that everyone would hike at the same time. Thankfully it seems that the 150 people are typically spread out a bit throughout the day.
After putting on our new neoprene socks and hiking shoes, we checked in with the employee that was checking tickets and made our way onto the trail. It starts out steep, but the employee told us this was the most strenuous part. On your way up the hill, there are some nice views of the mountains and farms below, which were especially beautiful as the morning light hit them.
We reached the first creek crossing pretty quickly and were thankfully able to skirt across on rocks without getting wet. We had seen photos of weeks before where the water level was very high at this point and you had to get wet right away.
The trail continues on a dirt path for a bit and you get nice views of the canyon surrounding the hike. We didn’t expect the hike to be this scenic along the way! After a little bit of dry trail, we then began the fun part, going through the creek.
At first, you’re able to mostly avoid getting wet, by stepping on rocks that stick out above the water, although be careful, these rocks can be slick and Adam had a little fall, that we thankfully both laughed about.
As you get closer to the slot canyon, avoiding the water becomes more challenging and we went all in on getting our feet wet. The water was ICE COLD. We had read it was maybe around 35 degrees during our visit and it sure felt that way when we stuck our hands in to test it out. But thankfully the neoprene socks, which we bought the day before, really helped keep our feet warm.
The socks are super interesting. Your feet still get wet and you get squishy shoes, but it’s not nearly as uncomfortable as just going in regular socks. We had a ton of fun splashing around in the river, criss crossing it many times, on our way to the slot canyon.
When we reached the slot canyon, we were pretty impressed by its size! The walls were a lot taller than expected and it reminded us of our time at Wire Pass and Buckskin Gulch. At this point, you WILL get wet, there is no avoiding it in the slot canyon, but this is the best part of the hike in our opinion.
Watch our video from Wire Pass and Buckskin Gulch
As soon as you enter the slot canyon, you’ll start to hear water roaring, which is the first waterfall waiting for you a minute or two in. When we got our first glimpse of the waterfall, which is the iconic one you see in most photos, we were in awe! Seeing a waterfall IN a slot canyon was SO cool!
But what makes it even cooler is that there is a 15 foot ladder on the right side of the waterfall. We hear in the winter this ladder can be icy and impossible to climb up, but lucky for us, it was just very wet and safe to climb.
It was a bit scary to climb at first, as the waterfall is so loud and powerful right next to you, but if you take it slow and are careful, you’ll have no problem.
Note: the ladder has changed since our visit and is more of a staircase now. It looks a LOT safer! (photo below)
Once at the top of the ladder, you get to look down over the waterfall before continuing through some water to a small waterfall. At this point, you have to climb up a log and some boulders to continue on to the natural waterslide and second major waterfall.
Adam was able to climb up the log and boulders relatively easily, but I struggled with this part, as my fingers were painfully cold and I did not feel like I had the hand strength to lift myself and grip onto things.
So we made the tough decision to turn around. We wish we could’ve seen what was up ahead, but we were starting to feel uncomfortably cold and didn’t feel confident that we could safely continue. At the end of the day, safety is #1 and we were very happy with just seeing the first waterfall and climbing the ladder. Plus, now we have a reason to go back!
What to do before or after Kanarra Falls
Looking for things to do before or after your hike? Here are some spots nearby to check out!
- Linski’s Grill (Located close to the trailhead)
- Centro Woodfired Pizzeria (Cedar City)
- The French Spot (Cedar City)
- Hermie’s Drive In (Cedar City)
Coffee and Sweets
- Kanarra Falls Snackery (Located right by the trailhead and has coffee, smoothies, and snacks. We wanted to go here so badly, but they were closed in March)
- Grind Coffee House (Cedar City)
- Visit Zion National Park. Be sure to read our 3 Days in Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks Guide for more hikes.
- Visit Kolob Canyons (Zion): This area is GORGEOUS and way less busy than the main canyon. The only downside is that it does have fewer hikes to choose from, but we recommend looking into: Middle Fork Taylor Creek (4.9 miles), Timber Creek Overlook (1.1 mile), and Kolob Arch (13.7 miles).
- Visit Kolob Terrace (Zion): We LOVED this area! Similar to Kolob Canyons, it is way less busy than Zion Canyon and still has great views! The Northgate Peaks trail was easy and had an awesome payoff at the end.
Ready to explore Kanarra Falls?
Pin this Kanarra Falls hiking guide guide to help plan your trip!