Kanarra Falls Utah is a very popular hike that I’ve had the fortune of not just checking out, but also having the trail entirely to myself and in this post what I want to do is share everything you need to know about this place including how to explore it without the massive crowds that usually go here.
Quick info on Kanarra Falls Utah:
- Name: Kanarra Falls (Also known as Kanarraville Falls).
- Location: Kanarraville Utah.
- Hiking distance: 4 miles in and out (1.5 to reach the ladder part).
- Permit needed? Yes, you’ll need to get a Kanarra Falls permit before you go (I’ll show you how).
- Difficulty: Moderate.
- Family friendly hike? Yes (if it’s warm).
- Is it dangerous? It’s slippery in parts but mostly OK.
- Rating: 4.5 out of 5 (if the crowds aren’t huge).
- Recommended? Yes! The way I’m going to structure this post is by first giving you some preparation basics (what to know before you go basically) and then I’ll run you through a little tour of the actual hike so you know what to expect when you go.
5 things to know about Kanarraville Falls Utah before you go:
1) You need to get a Kanarra Falls permit and there’s 2 ways to do that:
- You can get the permit for $12 per person online on the official Kanarra Falls site here.
- Or you can “risk” getting it at the start of the trail when you go. The risk with the second one is that most times of the year, the hike is open to only about 100+ people a day and if you get there and slots are filled up, you’re out of luck. On the other hand, getting it online will ensure you have a spot.
Now one thing to note is that in my case, when I went, I did get my permit online but when I showed up (which was in late January), there was no one working at the permit station, so I just had to go as it was (keep this in mind).
2) You will get wet, especially as the hike progresses closer to the ladder area:
The first mile of the hike to Kanarraville Falls involves will have you pass by a creek but you can avoid getting wet there. But as you get closer to the ladder area, you’ll first have to enter a slot canyon and that is where you’re surely going to get wet. Most of the time, the water is extremely cold there. My advice is to wear waterproof socks to help with that and I have a list of the best waterproof socks that are ideal for this specific hike (one of the pairs on that list saved me on this hike).
3) Wear decent hiking shoes and/or water shoes:
Again, there will be parts of this hike where stepping into water is unavoidable but another thing to note is that depending on the season, the depth of the water can be knee high. Either way, I would recommend good hiking shoes for the hike itself, but for the water parts, I would recommend decent water shoes.
I went through this hike wearing the Salomon Speedcross 5 and they worked well for the most part. When I got into the slot canyon and started getting wet, stepping on wet rocks was often slippery for me and the only reason I didn’t fall was because I had decent balance that was aided by using hiking poles (Trailbuddy trekking poles).
4) There are 2 waterfalls on this Kanarraville Falls trail:
- The first one is the famous one with the ladder you probably see pictures of (It’s about 2 miles from the start of the hike).
- And the second one is about a third of a mile further up the hike. Then you go back down all the way to the parking lot.
5) The Kanarra Falls hike is often crowded, but here’s how I was able to explore it all by myself:
I went here at the end of January when it was literally freezing cold and much of the hike had snow and ice to cross. I’m not recommending people do that if they’re uncomfortable about the thought, but believe me, few people will do this hike during that period and for me, that makes it totally worth doing.
If you do decide to come here in the winter, just know the risks and dangers are increased because you will stepping in ice cold water, risking hypothermia. As I mentioned earlier, wearing waterproof socks and decent hiking gear will help, but the waterproof socks (in this case) were what truly made the difference and literally saved me on this hike. The ones I wore are called the Randy Sun Waterproof Socks:
I do also have a further Randy Sun waterproof socks review that explains my experiences on the Kanarra Falls hike and other places I wore them on. Additionally because it was winter when I did this hike, the coldest part was inside the slot canyon and if what helped keep me warm (upper body) was a good winter jacket. The one I wore that day was the REI Stormhenge 850 Down Jacket.
In fact, here is a video of me hiking through Kanarra Falls Utah with all this gear:
Moving onto the Kanarra Falls Utah hike itself (what to expect):
1) First you’ll park your car, walk up to the ticket booth and show your Kanarra Falls permit:
You’ll either present your reservation to the person working there, or fill out a form and put it in the mailbox. In my case, no one was there and even though I paid online, I wasn’t even able to show it to anyone.
2) Then you’ll walk uphill for a bit on a dirt road that turns right:
As you turn right, you will see a fence with tanks behind it and the path will continue. You will soon see Kanarra Creek itself and continue following it.
3) The trail through Kanarraville Falls will zigzag left to right as you continue:
On some points of the hike, I was wondering if the path was going in a different direction but the basic idea is to follow the main path that parallels along the Kanarra Creek.
4) Eventually you will come towards a regular canyon (one of two):
The canyon is not a slot canyon just yet but you will continue walking upriver, following the path before you.
5) You will eventually reach a slot canyon (this is the entrance to Kanarra Falls):
From the slot canyon, you will have to get wet here (no other choice). In my case, I had to break through the ice to get into the water. But it will turn into a slot canyon that’s about 5-6 feet wide (and large canyon walls). The waterfall is only about 50 feet away from the entrance here. I will say that this is one of the best slot canyons in Utah that I’ve hiked and I also think the Kanarra Falls hike in general is one of the best hikes in Utah too.
6) Once you reach Kanarra Falls, you have the option to climb the stairs:
The stairs can be slippery so be careful here, but it’s a short walk and afterwards you can get a nice look at the canyon from a top. The picture you see above was taken by me and obviously, it isn’t as pretty as some of the ones you see on this spot, but that’s because my phone doesn’t take good low light photos. In any case, as you can see the ladder here was metallic and not the wooden one you see in most photos. It might change in the future, but just expect this for now if you go.
7) You can continue to follow the Kanarra Falls trail upstream and as you do, about 1/3 of a mile up is when you will hit the next waterfall.
I personally didn’t go that far because I was tired of walking through all the ice that day so I decided to turn back, but many people just come here for the ladder part of the hike and then turn around too. Just know you can go further if you want. From here you can turn around and head back the same way to the parking lot to finish the hike.
Again, I recommend you wear proper things for the Kanarraville Falls hike:
If you decide to do this hike in the winter like I did, I cannot stress enough how important wearing the right clothing (and bringing the right backpack) made this hike better for me (especially the waterproof socks). I would never have been able to get this far into the hike when I went there without them!
More questions about Kanarra Falls Utah:
How long of a hike is Kanarra Falls?
The hike to Kanarra Falls is about 1.5 mile from the parking area.
How difficult is Kanarra Falls hike?
The Kanarra Falls hike is generally easy until you reach the canyon area. Then it gets slippery because of the water, but it’s not a difficult trek.
Do you need permit for Kanarra Falls?
Yes and the best way to get a permit for Kanarra Falls is online within their main website. You should also do it at least a week before you go because this place is very popular.
Is Kanarra Falls in Zion National Park?
No Kanarra Falls is actually about 30 minutes north west of Zion National Park.
What should I wear to kanarraville falls?
Generally water shoes are ideal for the Kanarraville Falls. I would also recommend waterproof socks because the water is usually very cold, especially between fall and spring.
Other great nature spots to check out near Kanarra Falls Utah:
1) Zion National Park:
Zion National Park is only about 30 minutes away from this place and there is much more to see and do there. There are 2 trail there which bear some resemblance to the Kanarra Falls hike but in my opinion are actually better and they are:
- The Narrows. No permit is needed here but I would recommend seeing my post on hiking the Narrows for beginners because there are also important preparation details to know before you go.
- The Subway. It’s a long hike and has a slot canyon that I would say is better looking than Kanarra Falls, but it does require a permit (it’s difficult to get).
2) St. George Utah:
This is about 1 hour from Kanarraville Falls and I would recommend seeing the many beautiful hikes in St. George Utah in addition to the ones in Zion National Park.
Overall, I really enjoyed the Kanarra Falls hike, and adding to it that I was by myself there really made me appreciate it more considering how I’ve seen so many pictures with tons of people there. I really was lucky (or crazy) to go there in January and thanks to the socks I wore, I was able to do it.