San Rafael Swell Slot Canyon Hiking
San Rafael Swell slot canyons are many and diverse. To try and cover all of the many hiking opportunities in the San Rafael Swell would be exhaustive and we would still miss some of the slot canyons. Here are a few of the easily accessible and popular slot canyons. Before hiking anywhere in the San Rafael Swell be sure you have plenty of water and food, and someone else will know where you are going, and please do not deviate from you planned course. Please refer to our brochure and map for more details.
Little Wild Horse and Bell canyons cut narrow slots through the San Rafael Reef. A popular hiking loop starts in Little Wild Horse Canyon and returns to the Little Wild Horse Canyon Trailhead via Bell Canyon. The hike requires some scrambling over large boulders and squeezing through narrow spots. Do not attempt this hike if there is a possibility of flash flooding. The trailhead, with its bulletin board, parking area and toilet is 5.3 miles south of the Goblin Valley entrance station.
Crack Canyon has a nice variety of narrows sprinkled within a wider, dramatic canyon which provides excellent entertainment. Occasional boulder problems add a little spice to the trail. The canyon cuts due south through the reef, and is only about 50% shaded, so high summer exploration is probably best in the early morning or late afternoon. Like Little Wild Horse, walking through Crack Canyon and returning the same way makes a good half-day trip. From Temple Junction, drive north through the Reef on Temple Mountain Road 2.2 miles to the unmarked Behind the Reef Road. Turn left and drive 4.2 miles to the road/wash at Crack Canyon. Turn left again and park.
Ding and Dang make a great half-day circle trip up and down narrow and interesting canyons, with enough climbing obstacles to keep the riff raff at bay. If the group is a little daintier, a jaunt up Ding and back makes a splendid foray. This is the southern-most set of canyons accessed from the southeast side of the reef and the Goblin Valley Road. From Temple Junction, take the Goblin Valley Road southwest along the face of the reef, to the junction just short of the entrance to Goblin Valley State Park. Take the good dirt road to the right for five miles to the prominent parking lot at Bell and Little Wild Horse Canyons. Continue another 1 and 1/4 miles to where a large wash comes in on the right and the road turns due south and heads toward Wild Horse Mesa. There is a short side road here leading to a few parking spots.
Other notable slot canyons in the San Rafael Swell are: Chute Canyon, & Baptist Draw. Please be safe.