For a long time, the Kanarraville Falls trail has remained a local's secret but because of social media and smartphones in everyone's hands, the last ten years have resulted in explosive numbers of people stopping to take in the beauty of this incredible location.
I admit, hiking to Kanarraville Falls has long been on my bucket list but every time I whizzed past the tiny town of Kanarraville, it was either too hot, too cold, there was no time or we just wanted to get where we were going. That's the thing, the spot isn't exactly a destination point for travelers but if you time it right, it is a perfect diversion for a few hours during a long road trip.
I had read several accounts of the crowds of people who make a point of also stopping here on their way to whereverville and actually felt a little guilty adding to the traffic. However, with a 6am start time from Salt Lake City and plenty of time to get into Vegas and perfect October weather, I was stopping no matter what. I am also publicly apologizing to the residents of Kanarraville for this little blog that may continue to perpetuate the growing crisis in your community.
Besides the usual jerks who think it is okay to leave trash, graffiti, destroy property, leave their dog feces on the trail, hike off trails etc. the parking problems, traffic and possible damage to the tiny town's primary water source are of the biggest concern. The town has created parking at the base of the trail head in recent years and charges a $10 fee. I would encourage you (if you are stopping here), to pay the fee and park in the designated areas rather than disturbing residents by parking on side roads. The money is helping to maintain the trail, provide portable toilets, clean up after folks and address the water issues caused by the current popularity of the falls.
I am not writing this to encourage you to go or not to go but rather to once again boast of the beauty that Utah has to offer and to remind people to RESPECT this place so that it doesn't become unavailable to the public. It is, absolutely, an incredible gem in the heart of Utah.
One of the best surprises (and why I haven't yet posted a picture of the actual falls) is that the trail leading up to the falls was also unbelievably beautiful. It was breathtaking, really. The trail is not difficult but as you get close to the slots and the falls, you will be walking in the water. You will absolutely get your feet wet and the water is COLD so plan accordingly. There were beautiful red rocks, desert oasis, swirling pools, small falls and gorgeous October colors all along the way.
There were many spots where you had to walk up the river (like this), however, where there is a side trail, please stay on it to reduce your impact on the water. Can you believe the gorgeous fall colors with the red rocks?
Just before reaching the slot canyon, there is an interesting and unlikely grove of trees hiding some really cool caves that are just beyond the reach of most hikers.
The temperature dropped as we entered the slot canyon. There was a gorgeous little tree holding onto dear life, along the rock walls. As the wind blew, her little yellow leaves swirled around. It was magical to say the least.
This photo was shot by Noah, looking up the slot canyon towards the sky. The little trees are so precariously scattered about the steep rocks.
I have been thinking about this photograph for years and I will admit that it is not as beautiful as I might have liked. With over 40,000 visitors a year, you can imagine that even on a Thursday, towards the end of October, there were still many, many people along this trail. I had a moment's gap as two descended and headed down and a crew of teenage boys behind me were persuaded to hold back for just a moment. It seems so peaceful and yet the reality was, voices were echoing off the walls and there were people all over. I knew that this would likely be the case but it was still disappointing. Regardless, here is a photo of the lower falls.
Noah and Eli carefully making their way up to the upper falls.
One more shot of one of the most attractive places in Utah. I say 'attractive' because it surely 'attracts' a boatload of visitors each and every day. I think Kanarraville Falls would be really amazing to make time for on a winter trip. You would have to have the right gear but, the crowds would be silent and I can only imagine the snow piling up between the red rocks.
I hope that everyone who is interested in stopping in Kanarraville to hike the 4.8 mile in and out trail to the falls, takes the time to do so but just remember to tread lightly and respect the creations that God has entrusted us with. It is our duty as humans on His planet to take care of this beautiful world. Respect the citizens of Kanarraville as well. Imagine if hundreds of people were driving through your town and traipsing through your yards and down your quiet streets and walking through your water. Just consider it. The residents of this little town have been quoted as saying that we are "loving it to death". It is good for all of us to understand that this unique place is the main water source for this town and to treat it as such. Enjoy it while it lasts.