Kanarraville Falls

Kanarraville / Cedar City, Utah, USA

About Kanarraville Falls


Hiking Distance: 4.5 miles round trip; scrambling obstacles and creek walking involved
Suggested Time: 4-5 hours

Date first visited: 2018-04-05
Date last visited: 2018-04-05

Waterfall Latitude: 37.53790
Waterfall Longitude: -113.15288

Kanarraville Falls (also Kanarra Falls or Kanarra Creek Falls) was really a series of attractive waterfalls within Kanarra Creek Canyon.

Kanarra Creek passed through a pair of attractive narrows while also presenting scrambling obstacles to overcome in order to proceed further up the canyon.

Kanarraville_Falls_170_04052018 - One of the Kanaraville Falls within Kanarra Creek Canyon
One of the Kanaraville Falls within Kanarra Creek Canyon

Two of the waterfalls had ladders to facilitate further progress, and they have become iconic signatures of this excursion.

Previously, this place was known mostly to locals before social media and the internet let the cat out of the box, so to speak.

When my Mom and I did this hike mid-week in early April 2018, we were one of the first to get started.

However, when we returned to the trailhead after midday, this place was very busy.

Kanarraville_Falls_283_04052018 - Another one of the Kanaraville Falls within Kanarra Creek Canyon
Another one of the Kanaraville Falls within Kanarra Creek Canyon

In addition to the waterfalls, I found the pair of narrows (also responsible for each of the major waterfalls on Kanarra Creek) to be very attractive.

While they may not be thousands of feet high like in the famous Zion Narrows, the sandstone walls of Kanarra Creek were tall enough to still experience something quite like (perhaps better than) the Zion Narrows itself.

As you can see in the photos on this page, the colorful red and orangish walls was great for photography as well as on the eyes.

And in my mind, just being in these narrows were as much of a highlight as the main waterfalls themselves.

Preparing for Kanarra Creek Canyon

Kanarraville_Falls_135_04052018 - Mom hiking within one of the narrows of Kanarra Creek
Mom hiking within one of the narrows of Kanarra Creek

I tend to think of Kanarra Creek as a relatively quieter alternative to the more famous Zion Narrows (though this statement tends to understate its popularity).

I made this association because we had to get wet and spend a good deal of time wading within Kanarra Creek (as opposed to the Virgin River and its tributaries).

That said, I found this hike to be more challenging than the Zion Narrows hike because each of the handful of waterfalls were also tricky bouldering obstacles.

Even though there were ladders set up to get by the tallest of the waterfalls (which were typically on the order of 15ft or so), the last ladder we encountered was also deceptively dangerous due to its bad condition.

Kanarraville_Falls_311_04052018 - Mom waiting for some people to get up one of the ladders set up in Kanarra Creek
Mom waiting for some people to get up one of the ladders set up in Kanarra Creek

In fact, my Mom gashed her knee on one of the metal rungs bolted onto the slippery wooden ladder as the metal was sharp.

Speaking of the hazards, I noticed many people who came into this canyon were unprepared.

Some attempted to do the hike in rain boots, flip flops, or old sneakers while others brought young kids (even toddlers and babies in carriers) onto the hike.

In the dicier sections of the trail, we saw on multiple occasions children crying either because of the obstacles encountered or because of the very cold water or both.

Kanarraville_Falls_307_04052018 - Looking towards some guys negotiating a large boulder obstacle within Kanarra Creek Canyon
Looking towards some guys negotiating a large boulder obstacle within Kanarra Creek Canyon

Mom and I saw the volume of people coming in while we were coming out.

Many of them came with dogs while others came with obnoxious boom boxes or iPhones played out loud.

Upon this observation, Mom turned to me and said that they had no idea what they were getting themselves into, and I had to agree.

Having done parts of the Narrows twice before (one of them was the entire 16-mile length), I knew that renting canyoneering shoes and neoprene socks from one of the outfitters in Springdale while bringing along trekking poles, was wise.

Kanarraville_Falls_302_04052018 - Context of other hikers within one of the narrows of Kanarra Creek Canyon
Context of other hikers within one of the narrows of Kanarra Creek Canyon

And indeed, our feet withstood the icy cold water thanks to the neoprene socks.

Moreover, the grip we were getting on the slippery sandstone walls and ledges from the spider rubber of the canyoneering shoes helped tremendously.

We pretty much negotiated just about all of the obstacles in Kanarra Creek except the second waterfall ladder.

Kanarraville Falls Trail Description – hiking the trail to the water gauge

The Kanarraville Falls hike began from a well-signed parking lot at the far eastern end of the town of Kanarraville (see directions below).

Kanarraville_Falls_015_04052018 - Mom hiking past some water tanks and some kind of cell tower by the apex of the initial climb on the Kanarra Creek Trail
Mom hiking past some water tanks and some kind of cell tower by the apex of the initial climb on the Kanarra Creek Trail

Immediately from the parking lot, we went up some steps just past a signboard that accurately warned that this was not an easy hike.

The sign also stated that we’d be spending a minimum of four hours away from the car.

Once we were above the steps, we then had to hike up a dirt road rising high above Kanarraville.

The climb peaked at a pair of water tanks accompanied by some kind of cell or radio tower.

Kanarraville_Falls_019_04052018 - Context of Mom descending towards one of the crossings of Kanarra Creek with Kanarra Creek Canyon up ahead
Context of Mom descending towards one of the crossings of Kanarra Creek with Kanarra Creek Canyon up ahead

The road then descended to the first crossing of Kanarra Creek (at about 0.3 miles from the start of the hike on the dirt road) before it undulated up and down some minor hills.

The road then descended to the next encounter with Kanarra Creek at about 0.4 miles from the first crossing according to my GPS log.

At this encounter, there was a narrow ledge trail that skirted the creek to avoid getting wet.

I suspected that this crossing was more for 4wd vehicles that might have to go right through Kanarra Creek to continue on.

Kanarraville_Falls_041_04052018 - Mom on a Kanarra Creek bypass trail roughly 3/4-mile into the Kanaraville Falls hike
Mom on a Kanarra Creek bypass trail roughly 3/4-mile into the Kanaraville Falls hike

Beyond this creek bypass, we then had to cross Kanarra Creek once again another quarter-mile later.

At this point, we started to notice an attractive jagged red mountain that was looming in the background.

About another 0.1-mile later, we reached some kind of water gauge area that was fenced off.

While the gauge wasn’t anything particularly significant scenery wise, it actually helped us identify where the start (or end) of the defined trail was.

Kanarraville_Falls_063_04052018 - Mom going around the fenced water gauge with an attractive jagged mountain looming in the background as we were about to hike right into Kanarra Creek and its canyon
Mom going around the fenced water gauge with an attractive jagged mountain looming in the background as we were about to hike right into Kanarra Creek and its canyon

Indeed, the 4wd road pretty much stopped at this gauge.

It was especially helpful to us on the return hike, when we realized where it was best to get out of the water and move quickly on dry land (i.e. the dirt road) once again.

Kanarraville Falls Trail Description – hiking beyond the gauge to the first ladder waterfall

Beyond the stream gauge, the Kanarraville Falls “Trail” pretty much degenerated into a network of sketchy false trails.

Just about all of these trails were pretty much due to futile attempts by prior hikers to avoid getting wet in Kanarra Creek.

Kanarraville_Falls_070_04052018 - Past the stream gauge, the Kanarraville Falls hike now has several false trails paralleling Kanarra Creek, but it gets to the point where you're better off just getting into the creek itself
Past the stream gauge, the Kanarraville Falls hike now has several false trails paralleling Kanarra Creek, but it gets to the point where you’re better off just getting into the creek itself

I’m sure the degree of erosion that was taking place here exposed a lot of boulders clinging onto edges.

It also exposed water pipes sending drinking water to the town of Kanarraville.

As a result, I can envision someone getting hurt or the soil/water quality becoming compromised at this point.

While Mom and I didn’t commit to getting wet until another quarter-mile further from the gauge, in hindsight, it probably would have been easier to just give in and slosh our way upstream through Kanarra Creek the rest of the way.

Kanarraville_Falls_095_04052018 - The first waterfall that we noticed while stream scrambling within Kanarra Creek
The first waterfall that we noticed while stream scrambling within Kanarra Creek

At nearly 0.3 miles beyond the gauge, we encountered our first somewhat significant waterfall on Kanarra Creek.

This slanted chute-like waterfall was probably about 5ft tall.

We spotted a trail that went around it up the right side beyond a creek crossing shortly downstream of the bottom of the falls.

Beyond this waterfall, the hike pretty much criss-crossed and stayed within Kanarra Creek as we hiked amongst shallow sandstone walls.

Kanarraville_Falls_103_04052018 - Mom stream hiking within Kanarra Creek as the canyon walls continued to narrow in the further upstream we went
Mom stream hiking within Kanarra Creek as the canyon walls continued to narrow in the further upstream we went

Since we were well past the resistance to getting wet at this point, this part of the hike didn’t present any particular challenges or scenic sections of note.

However, at about 0.3 miles beyond the 5ft chute waterfall, the canyon walls really closed in and we found ourselves at the mouth of the attractive first narrows.

Here, the reddish sandstone walls flanked a section that was wall-to-wall Kanarra Creek.

As we sloshed our way further upstream past a couple of very scenic bends, we’d eventually reach the loudness of the first (and perhaps most photographed) of the main Kanarraville Falls.

Kanarraville_Falls_128_04052018 - Mom within the first narrows of Kanarra Creek Canyon
Mom within the first narrows of Kanarra Creek Canyon

There was a metal ladder that was wedged between the cliffs and a boulder at the top of the right side of the falls.

According to the trailhead signage, we were about 1.75 miles away from the parking lot (though my GPS logs suggested it might be slightly longer than that).

Given that there was only this one ladder to traverse the waterfall obstacle, we had to wait our turn use it.

Towards the top of the ladder, there were a couple of ropes set up to help assist in some of the less sure spots.

Kanarraville Falls Trail Description – hiking from the first ladder to the second ladder

Kanarraville_Falls_146_04052018 - Mom going up the ladder to get past the first of the main Kanaraville Falls or Kanarra Falls within the first narrows of Kanarra Creek Canyon
Mom going up the ladder to get past the first of the main Kanaraville Falls or Kanarra Falls within the first narrows of Kanarra Creek Canyon

Immediately after the top of the ladder as the first of the main Kanarraville Falls, we then briefly continued upstream before we encountered the next waterfall obstacle.

This time, there was a giant boulder that appeared to split Kanarra Creek, where the bulk of this waterfall spilled on the left side.

There was an even sketchier scramble up some wedged boulders while getting splashed by the remainder of the cascade on the right side.

Towards the top of that scramble, there was a rope set up to help pull up (or control your way down) as of our late April 2018 visit.

Kanarraville_Falls_190_04052018 - Mom climbing her way up the next obstacle almost immediately after the ladder by the first of the Kanaraville Falls
Mom climbing her way up the next obstacle almost immediately after the ladder by the first of the Kanaraville Falls

After this bouldering obstacle, we then continued sloshing our way up Kanarra Creek as the canyon opened up.

The canyon then choked in near another attractive cascade, which seemed to be at about another quarter-mile or less later.

By the way, my GPS lost lock due to poor reception from the narrow canyon blocking visibility at this point.

There was another obstacle where we were able to squeeze our way up the left side of a giant boulder in order to make it up to this cascade.

Kanarraville_Falls_240_04052018 - Context of Mom checking out the upper drop of a two-tiered cascade on Kanarra Creek backed by an attractive red spire-like cliff
Context of Mom checking out the upper drop of a two-tiered cascade on Kanarra Creek backed by an attractive red spire-like cliff

While the two-tiered waterfall was photogenic as it was backed by a red spire-like cliff, I noticed some young visitors as well as locals tried to use one of the tiers as a water slide.

Beyond the cascade, we sloshed around some more upstream along Kanarra Creek as the canyon walls closed in once more before reaching the second narrows.

Like the first narrows, it was wall-to-wall creek with tall fluted sandstone cliffs giving this place another dose of scenic allure.

However, unlike the first narrows, there were pockets of thigh-deep pools at the base of some minor cascades that we had to either wade through or skirt around.

Kanarraville_Falls_255_04052018 - Mom working around some of the deep-pool obstacles within the second narrows of Kanarra Creek Canyon
Mom working around some of the deep-pool obstacles within the second narrows of Kanarra Creek Canyon

Therefore, the scrambling obstacles were more prevalent in this narrows than the first.

A few more minutes of upstream scrambling up this narrows (roughly 2.5 hours from the time we got started), we eventually reached the second of the main Kanarraville Falls with a ladder.

Unlike the first ladder, which was metallic all the way through, this ladder was wooden with metal rungs bolted in the slippery log.

Naturally, the tendency would be to scale this ladder and explore what else Kanarra Creek Canyon had to offer (especially if there was yet a third waterfall further upstream).

Kanarraville_Falls_287_04052018 - Close-up look at the second of the main Kanarraville Falls and the sketchy ladder that we opted not to try to scale
Close-up look at the second of the main Kanarraville Falls and the sketchy ladder that we opted not to try to scale

However, as of our April 2018 visit, there were a couple of missing metal rungs as well as one loose one that was spinning as parts of the waterfall was spilling right onto the top of the ladder itself.

As mentioned earlier, Mom gashed her knee on one of these metal rungs after slipping on the very first step she took trying to get to the first rung (as the lowermost rung was missing).

As a result of her injury and given the sketchiness of the ladder’s condition, this was our turnaround point.

That said, we did see some younger and more nimble-bodied guys make their way further up beyond this waterfall.

Kanarraville_Falls_293_04052018 - Looking back at a group of young guys who were able to scale the second ladder obstacle on Kanarra Creek, but it just wasn't for us so we turned back
Looking back at a group of young guys who were able to scale the second ladder obstacle on Kanarra Creek, but it just wasn’t for us so we turned back

From what they told me, the canyon opened up once again, and it became more open spaces.

So apparently, we didn’t miss out on much by choosing not to go up this ladder.

Kanarraville Falls Trail Description – the return hike and some final thoughts

On the way back to the Kanarra Creek Trailhead, the hiking actually went a bit faster since we were going downstream.

We also didn’t waste any more time trying to avoid getting wet until we got to the stream gauge.

Kanarraville_Falls_301_04052018 - Mom headed back downstream along Kanarra Creek as we were leaving the second narrows
Mom headed back downstream along Kanarra Creek as we were leaving the second narrows

By that point, we were back on the dirt road.

But whenever we encountered another stream crossing, we just went right through instead of trying to stay dry.

By the time we made it back to the trailhead parking, we had spent about 4.5 hours total on this excursion.

That said, we couldn’t wait to get out of the neoprene socks and canyoneering shoes to let our feet breathe once again.

Kanarraville_Falls_333_04052018 - Lots of people headed towards Kanarra Creek Canyon while we were on our way out
Lots of people headed towards Kanarra Creek Canyon while we were on our way out

Finally, we do have to mention one last thing about accessing Kanarraville Falls.

Due to the volume of visitors to Kanarraville Falls (both prepared and unprepared and/or not respectful), the residents of Kanarraville are seeking to limit the visitor numbers.

They’re doing this in order to protect their drinking water from unsafe levels of contamination.

There are currently plans in place to institute a permit system much like the Coyote Buttes Wave and the recently-instituted Subway hike in Zion’s Kolob Terrace section.

Kanarraville_Falls_349_04052018 - By the time we got back to the parking lot for the Kanarra Creek Trailhead, it was pretty much full
By the time we got back to the parking lot for the Kanarra Creek Trailhead, it was pretty much full

Thus, the access to the falls could very well change by the time you read this writeup.

Authorities

Kanarraville Falls resides in the Spring Creek Canyon Wilderness Study Area in Kanarraville near Cedar City in Iron County, Utah. It is administered by the Bureau of Land Management, but access involves passing through lands permitted by Iron County and the town of Kanarraville. For information or inquiries about the park as well as current conditions, visit the BLM website or the Kanarra Falls website.

Kanarraville_Falls_007_04052018 - Right above the parking lot for Kanarraville Falls was the dirt road that we had to ascend
Kanarraville_Falls_011_04052018 - Continuing on the initial ascent up the dirt road en route to the Kanarraville Falls
Kanarraville_Falls_012_04052018 - Looking back across the parking lot for the Kanarraville Falls Trailhead as of the early morning on our April 2018 visit
Kanarraville_Falls_022_04052018 - This was the first crossing of Kanarra Creek shortly after the first descent from the apex of the initial climb en route to the Kanarraville Falls
Kanarraville_Falls_027_04052018 - Right after the first crossing of Kanarra Creek, the trail climbed and undulated a bit as it continued towards the Kanarraville Falls
Kanarraville_Falls_034_04052018 - Beyond the first crossing of Kanarra Creek, the dirt road undulated for nearly the next half-mile en route to the Kanarraville Falls
Kanarraville_Falls_043_04052018 - At the second encounter with Kanarra Creek, we opted to take a ledge trail that skirted around the creek crossing down below. So we still stayed dry for this stretch of the hike to Kanarraville Falls
Kanarraville_Falls_053_04052018 - Approaching the third crossing of Kanarra Creek, where there were some people who were already struggling with trying to stay dry going across this creek
Kanarraville_Falls_071_04052018 - By this point in the hike to Kanarraville Falls, it was probably much easier to just scramble within Kanarra Creek than it was to try to stay dry (as the folks in front of us were attempting to do)
Kanarraville_Falls_072_04052018 - Mom continuing along one of the 'trails' alongside Kanarra Creek en route to the Kanarraville Falls past the stream gauge
Kanarraville_Falls_078_04052018 - Mom now hiking within Kanarra Creek en route to the Kanarra Falls
Kanarraville_Falls_082_04052018 - By this point in the Kanarraville Falls hike, the canyon walls had closed in to the point that resistance to getting wet was futile. It was time to commit to just hiking in Kanarra Creek
Kanarraville_Falls_085_04052018 - This was probably the first somewhat significant waterfall on Kanarra Creek though I'm sure some people beg to differ
Kanarraville_Falls_121_04052018 - Entering the first of the Kanarra Creek Canyon Narrows
Kanarraville_Falls_123_04052018 - While the Kanarra Creek Narrows were shallow compared to the famous Zion Narrows, it was still satisfying as you can see in this photo
Kanarraville_Falls_137_04052018 - Going around some of the bends with the first narrows of Kanarra Creek Canyon
Kanarraville_Falls_162_04052018 - This was the first main Kanarraville Falls with a ladder obstacle, which was actually quite easy to manage
Kanarraville_Falls_211_04052018 - Looking back towards the first narrows of Kanarra Creek Canyon from the top of the first major waterfall
Kanarraville_Falls_198_04052018 - Mom climbing the next waterfall obstacle shortly after the first of the main Kanarraville Falls during our April 2018 visit
Kanarraville_Falls_203_04052018 - Another look at the boulder-split waterfall just upstream from the first major Kanarraville Falls
Kanarraville_Falls_213_04052018 - Mom continuing further upstream towards the upper end of the first Kanarra Creek Narrows
Kanarraville_Falls_220_04052018 - Mom continuing to hike further upstream along Kanarra Creek as we were in between narrows at this point
Kanarraville_Falls_229_04052018 - Mom squeezing her way up this boulder obstacle just downstream from a two-tiered cascade somewhere between the first and second of the Kanarra Creek Canyon Narrows
Kanarraville_Falls_234_04052018 - Looking right at another waterfall obstacle within Kanarra Creek well upstream from the first of the Kanarra Creek Narrows
Kanarraville_Falls_245_04052018 - Frontal look at the two-tiered cascade on Kanarra Creek, which Mom was checking out as she stood above the lower drop
Kanarraville_Falls_247_04052018 - Context of Mom checking out the upper drop of the two-tiered drop on Kanarra Creek as we made our way to the second Kanarra Creek Narrows
Kanarraville_Falls_258_04052018 - Mom entering the second Kanarra Creek Narrows, which was just as attractive as the first
Kanarraville_Falls_271_04052018 - Mom making it to the second main Kanarraville Falls with ladder obstacle
Kanarraville_Falls_274_04052018 - Mom making it up to the second major Kanarraville Falls with a ladder, but this was the moment that she gashed her knee attempting to climb up the ladder
Kanarraville_Falls_285_04052018 - Closer look at that second Kanarraville Falls with a rickety ladder beside it
Kanarraville_Falls_316_04052018 - As we were making our way back downstream on Kanarra Creek, we encountered lots more people heading upstream, including this couple where the girl was getting a piggy-back ride from her Mom
Kanarraville_Falls_320_04052018 - Looking back at other hikers entering the first of the Kanarra Creek Narrows as we were making our way out
Kanarraville_Falls_324_04052018 - Looking back at other hikers entering the first of the Kanarra Creek Narrows as we were about to leave it
Kanarraville_Falls_337_04052018 - At this crossing of Kanarra Creek, we opted to go through the water instead of dealing with traffic on the upper ledge trail. We were already wet and didn't need the extra length required to go up embankments just to be dry
Kanarraville_Falls_339_04052018 - There were lots of people headed to Kanarraville Falls when we were headed out, which illustrated just how busy this place was
Kanarraville_Falls_341_04052018 - Somehow someone managed to park their car down to here instead of the actual trailhead for Kanarraville Falls
Kanarraville_Falls_344_04052018 - Encountering more people as we were making it back to the water tanks and cell tower near the trailhead for Kanarraville Falls
Kanarraville_Falls_345_04052018 - There were even ATV'ers and motorbikers on the Kanarraville Falls Trail as we were headed back to the trailhead

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The Kanarraville Falls (or the Kanarra Falls in Kanarra Creek Canyon) trailhead access was surprisingly straightforward to reach.

Perhaps this was one of the main reasons why Kanarraville residents are very concerned about water quality and other nuissances that come with the popularity of this hike.

This was especially the case since it sat off the I-15 between St George and Cedar City.

We’ll start with the directions from St George first.

Driving from St George to Kanarraville Falls

Heading north on the I-15 from St George, we’d drive north on the I-15 for about 35 miles to the New Harmony Kanarraville exit 42 (it was shortly north after the exit 40 for the Kolob Finger Canyons).

At the end of the off-ramp, we then turned right, then turned left onto the Old US 91.

After about 4.5 miles on Old US 91, we entered the town of Kanarraville, and followed the signs, which directed us to turn right onto E 100 North St.

Then, we drove the remaining 0.4 miles to the nearest trailhead parking lot on our left.

Kanarraville_Falls_002_04052018 - The nearest parking lot for Kanarra Creek Canyon
The nearest parking lot for Kanarra Creek Canyon

As of April 2018, there was a $10 self-help pay and display system in place during our visit.

There were also a row of porta-potties at the far end of this parking lot.

In addition, there was also another parking lot that appeared to be private, which also costed $10.

Driving from Cedar City to Kanarraville Falls

Heading south from Cedar City on the I-15, we’d drive south for about 6 miles to the exit 51 for Kanarraville Hamilton Ft.

Once at the end of the off-ramp, we’d turn left onto the Old US 91 and drive south for about 4.5 miles.

Kanarraville_Falls_003_04052018 - The steps leading up to the Kanarra Creek Trail beyond the handicapped parking space and the trailhead signpost
The steps leading up to the Kanarra Creek Trail beyond the handicapped parking space and the trailhead signpost

Then, we’d turn left onto E 100 North St in the heart of Kanarraville.

Finally, we’d follow E 100 North St to the trailhead parking.

For geographical context, Cedar City is about 52 miles (less than an hour drive) north of St George, 57 miles (over an hour drive) north of Springdale, 76 miles (about 90 minutes drive) west of Bryce Canyon City, 154 miles (over 2.5 hours drive) west of Page, Arizona, and 170 miles (over 2.5 hours drive) northeast of Las Vegas, Nevada.

Examining the base of the first major waterfall with ladder from a couple of different spots while conveying the depth of the narrows


Downstream to upstream video starting at top of first waterfall ladder to the next waterfall obstacle


Sweep revealing a pair of small cascades beneath some spire like cliff and positioned a few different ways to experience the falls from various perspectives


Downstream to upstream sweep revealing the second main waterfall and ladder combo with some intrepid folks managing to scale the rickety ladder obstacle

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Tagged with: kanarraville, cedar city, iron county, utah, usa, slot canyon, narrows, waterfalls, kanarraville creek



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