Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
200.00 ft (60.96 m)
Trail type
4.00 mi (6.44 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Located in the Rainbow Basin Natural Area, Owl Canyon is a big bang-for-your-buck hike. In only 2 miles you'll discover a myriad of geological formations, scramble through a little slot canyon, enjoy seasonal wildflowers and end up at an expansive view of the colorful basin. 

Owl Canyon cuts through several layers of volcanic and sedimentary rock. Each layer, with various colors and textures, contrasts with its neighbors, making a spectacular backdrop for this hike. With each curve of the canyon you'll see something new: cracked mudstone, conglomerate studded with multicolored rocks, and bright green clay. Visit the canyon in the spring to see even more colors: yellow prince's plume, red paintbrush and purple phacelia.

Find the trailhead at the north end of the campground and drop down into the canyon. From there, explore as far as your heart desires. There are several side canyons and caves worth exploring if you've got a sense of direction and a sense of adventure. Bring a headlamp and walk through the tunnel about a half mile up the canyon. See what other surprises you can find. Bring plenty of water and sun protection, as you won't find much shade. And check the forecast. If there's any rainfall predicted, stay out of the canyon. A flash flood would be dangerous here.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

Not Required


Beautiful views, fun scrambling.


Potential for flash floods.

Trailhead Elevation

3,050.00 ft (929.64 m)


Big vistas
Geologically significant

Typically multi-day



Nearby Lodging + Camping


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