Little Wild Horse Canyon
Parking improves access at popular hiking spot in San Rafael Swell
|A large parking area has been added to accommodate the large number of visitors who park and hike into Little Wild Horse Canyon.|
Little Wild Horse Canyon is among the most popular hiking spots in the San Rafael Swell. On a recent field trip to the Swell by the Bureau of Land Management, Emery County officials and ATV club representatives viewed the improvements at the trail head. The parking area has been expanded on both sides of the road and a large parking area has been cleared to accommodate many vehicles. This project has been a joint effort between the Emery County Road Department and the BLM.
Improvements have also been made to the county road leading to Little Wild Horse Canyon which have smoothed the road considerably. These improvements have been made by the Emery County Road Department.
These improvements will make the attraction of Little Wild Horse Canyon even better. Little Wild Horse can be hiked in any season, but not during rain or snowstorms. During periods of rain the area is prone to flash flooding which leads to dangerous hiking conditions. The hike generally takes four-six hours, but many hikers backpack in and spend the night along the trail. You need to bring your own food and water for a hike in the canyon. The trail makes a circle or for hikers not wishing to make the loop, they can hike in and then hike back out the same trail, this also works for hikers with young children in tow.
Little Wild Horse Canyon is the most popular hiking spot in the Swell. It is a high walled canyon with tight narrows. The hike is spectacular with every twist and turn revealing new colors and textures. The canyon is a popular spot for the photographer with the pictures changing with the light of the day. The Navajo narrows last for a mile or more.
The route goes up Little Wild Horse Canyon and after exiting the canyon it traverses the backside of the southern reef on the Behind the Reef Road to Bell Canyon where it descends back to the start. At the head of the canyon debris can be viewed which is left from the bygone mining era days and an old miners cabin also sits on a knoll.
Steve Allen has written a book called Canyoneering the San Rafael Swell which contains detailed information for hiking in and around Little Wild Horse Canyon and the San Rafael Swell.
Visitors from all around the world have hiked Little Wild Horse Canyon and not a day goes by without a hiker to the area. Emery County Sheriff Lamar Guymon said it is an area which sees a lot of use which is good for the area. "We go on probably four or five searches to the area each year. That's just part of having so many people come here. But, it's a good thing to have visitors. The improvements to the parking area will go a long way to accommodating the visitors here. There has also been a signage project recently where the BLM has installed signs at the forks in the trail to keep people headed in the right direction," said Guymon.
Dennis Willis from the Price BLM Field Office said visitors in 2004 numbered 26,000 who signed in at the trail head and probably a lot who didn't sign in. "Cars in the parking lot have been seen from all 50 states including Hawaii. Rental cars from Grand Junction and also out of Salt Lake indicate the number of people flying in to use this area. We have seen a useage increase these last few years. Improvements to the area include the expanded parking area and an enlarged outhouse. We always see cars in the parking lot. There are people in there all of the time," said Willis.