- Lisa Parsons
Slot Canyon Hiking to Kanarra Falls
Canyon Water Hike
Kanarra Falls was a secret known to locals until...the internet published its where abouts. This lesser known slot canyon went from a few visitors to hundreds of visitors prompting locals to take action.
Don't blink. When you enter Kanarraville, gateway to the falls its easy to see that this was just a small town that didn't know what it had at the edge of town. It is a small rural agricultural, ranching, and mining town population with a of around 350 people. I'm not sure if the town was ready for the onslaught of visitors but they seemed to have managed it well.
Now you have to buy a $12 per person ticket to visit the falls. You can purchase it online at: https://www.kanarrafalls.com/ to guarantee your spot or you can try your luck and purchase it as a walk up booth at the entrance. They only allow 150 people per day to enter the falls. There is a large parking lot at the end of the street where you can park for free. They have port-o-potties in the parking lot and a bathroom right before you head into the canyon.
You drop down and cross the creek for the first time. We saw some people take off their shoes to keep them dry as they crossed. We had to laugh because this is a water hike. Once in the canyon you follow the old road to an open area with a buried water tank. Then you drop down and follow trails along the edge and then walk in the creek when their isn't a trail.
Tall orange sandstone walls and water create an oasis in the desert
Entering the slot canyon
You finally reach the entrance of the slot canyon. There is a little beach where everyone stages before going in. The next steps are into the freezing cold water and the cool shade of 150 foot canyon walls. The walls are orange. A few yards in and you come to the first falls. This is where a majority of people turn around. When we were there the water was almost to the point of being too much. Water cascaded over the rock lip and soaked the metal stepped ladder going up. Luckily there is a rope along the wall that is bolted in for support. Be prepared to get wet!
Bouldering up the second falls
We climbed the ladder walked up to the second falls. This one doesn't have a ladder so you have to make some bouldering moves to get up a falls that splits in two around a rock.
Above the second falls the canyon opened up and there were a series of falls over large boulders. We continued up the creek until it became a narrower slot again. This time the walls were even closer together pushing all the water into a smaller space. The walls in this section were more of a brown and cream color. We pushed our way into the canyon with water that was up to our thighs in places. We made it up to the next falls which filled the narrow canyon and ended our hike upward. We turned around and made our way back the way we had come.
At the staging beach we met a 72 year old woman hiking with her grandson. They had climbed up the ladder on the first falls but then turned around before the second falls. David said she did a great job getting up the ladder. Her reply was my motto for life. To paraphrase her words of wisdom, you just keep moving until you can’t move anymore.
Know Before You Go
Hiking slot canyons has some unique challenges. The Kanarra Falls website had good information on what you need to know before you go. Also note that rescue is a minimum six hour evolution. So if you get yourself into trouble it is going to take awhile to get you out. So stay out of harms way by learning about the hazards and risks of the area you are visiting.