Little Wild Horse Canyon: Exploring the Canyon With A Camera

Last Updated on July 24, 2021 by Chris and Lindsay

Hiking Little Wild Horse Canyon is one of the greatest off-the-beaten-road adventures in Utah. The canyon is located in the San Rafael Swell, a broad stretch of land that takes the shape of a giant dome. Over many years of erosion by wind and water the land has created a varied landscape that has become ripe for exploration and adventure.

Little Wild Horse Canyon is located in Goblin Valley. It is most accessible for those who are traveling between Capitol Reef and Arches/Canyonland National Parks. The canyon does not take a lot of technical skill to navigate. But there are places where one could expect to encounter waist or chest high standing water.

Directional Metal sign on a wood post for two different canyons

The trail is well-marked. Go out-and-back or take the Bell Canyon Loop Trail.

The canyon can be explored via and out-and-back trail that can be as long as you would like. Or you can explore the canyon as part of a larger, several-hour loop hike.

However you choose to explore, let these photos inspire you to plan your trip to visit Little Wild Horse Canyon in the San Rafael Swell. We promise as beautiful as the photos are, the canyon is so much fun to explore in person!

Reaching the Canyon

The trail is wide and quite well-marked as you enter the canyon. It is virtually impossible to get lost. It is also fairly “family-friendly” as there are no real dangerous areas (aside from standing water of various depths).

You can see the smooth, wavy formation that resulted from water erosion over time.

As the trail narrows the fun really begins!

Narrow walkway in a slot canyon

The trail was exciting because every new view was different from the last.

A dog standing in the middle of a slot canyon

Little Wild Horse Canyon was dog friendly. Everest had a blast!

Into The Canyon

You first note entering the canyon because the walls around you become steeper. You find yourself standing in shadows and you can hear the echo of your footsteps against the narrowing walls.

Water used to rush over these smooth ridges, exposing sandstone formed at 45 degree angles.

Narrowing canyon, hardly wide enough for one person.

Sandstone formation in the slot canyon

At various points you reach rock faces hardly touched by sunlight.

When sunlight reaches these parts of the canyons it adds a whole new dimension.

Everest in Little Wild Horse Slot Canyon

Everest was always eager to explore the trail ahead of us!

Chris peeking through a hole in a rock

We played a little hide-n-seek in the canyon!

To get through some parts you would have to hop side-to-side along the rocks!

The Adventure of Standing Water

You are going to get wet… a couple of times! We took our Keene water sandals with us and swapped them out with our hiking boots three or four times (each way) in our hike!

The brown, dirty water blends in with the sandstone rock walls.

Lindsay trying not to get wet

Expect to run across water. This was only waist high. Sometimes it is higher.

Man with dog standing in knee deepwater in a slot canyon

A tall husband is a great tool for fording the puddles!

Exploring the Slot Canyons

At several points the canyon narrows down to just an arm’s-length width. These places made for some of the best scenery and exploration.

Narrow walkway in a slot canyon

The trail narrows into the slot canyon.

Narrow walkway in a slot canyon

It is dizzying to look through the canyon at points.

Not even shoulder-width at its widest points.

The slot canyon continued on toward daylight.

Leaving the Slot Canyon

Sometimes the way out included steps or jumps up through narrow passageways!

Sunlight often indicated when you were headed out of one portion of the canyon.

Lines in sandstone walls

The trail was mostly fine sand once you left the innermost parts of the canyon.

There are plenty of places to rest and take in the beautiful views.

Unique Rock Formations in the Canyon

Little Wild Horse Canyon was beautiful to explore because it changed so often. It went from open landscape to narrow slot canyons. It twisted and turned through standing water and small gravel. One could only use their imagination to think of what this place must have looked like as water flowed through it many, many years earlier!

No two portions of the canyon appeared the same.

Each layer of sandstone was worn down differently by the water leaving colorful layers exposed.

Water carves out interesting formations in the rocks.

The sandstone was made porous over time as water levels rose and fell.

A river once created a “bowl” in the rocks as it came around a bend.

Ready to plan your trip to explore Little Wild Horse Canyon?! Don’t overlook two other great canyons in the area!

Zebra Slot

Antelope Canyon

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