Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
341.00 ft (103.94 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
4.60 mi (7.40 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.

Hellhole Canyon, aka Kayenta Canyon, follows the Kayenta Wash located northwest of St. George proper outside the outlying community of Ivins. The trail lies on BLM and Red Cliffs Desert Reserve land, just barely skirting the edge of the Red Mountain Wilderness.  If you’re looking for a less crowded half day hike in the St. George area, this may be the hike for you.

While the road to the trailhead is paved and fairly straight forward, the parking is easy to miss if you don’t know what you’re looking for.  From Snow Canyon Parkway westbound from St. George, pass through all three Ivins roundabouts until you reach 400 W. Exit right from this traffic circle and drive three miles on Taviawk Drive until you see a large “Kayenta” sign just before a new housing development.  Park here.

The parking lot is small, nothing more than a 3-car pullout before the housing development. Fortunately, this hike is often overlooked in favor of more accessible ones in nearby Snow Canyon State Park and you’ll rarely find more than another party on the hike.

Start hiking down into the wash itself.  After a short distance, you’ll have the option to either take a trail to the left of the wash or continue hiking the rest of the way in the wash itself.  From an impact perspective, however, it is far better to continue in the wash where you won’t accidentally trample any vegetation or cryptobiotic crusts (unless of course there is any precip in the forecast - then you definitely would not want to be in a small narrow canyon of any sort). Hikers in decent shape will likely want to hike the entire way in the wash and while it is supposedly a bit more difficult due to the loose rocky ground and uneven terrain, the added difficulty is outweighed by lowering the environmental impact. 

However, because much of the wash is loose sand, it’s recommended that you wear closed shoes that are well-sealed against the sand.  Even so, plan to stop and dump out your shoes a few times.

The farther you go, the trickier the terrain gets, with added shelves that require some scrambling and even some large puddles and streams to jump across, depending on recent rainfall.  We did this hike after an unusual amount of winter rainfall, so the stream through the beginning of the wash was actually running.  This required a little more careful route planning to avoid getting wet and muddy.

From the trailhead, it’s 1.8 miles to the mouth of the canyon itself, but your hike need not end there. In fact, it is whole-heartedily recommended that you venture deeper into the canyon itself. Hellhole Canyon is not a slot canyon, but it is narrow in places and fascinating all the same.  As with most desert canyons, there is no “end point”; merely a point at which you are no longer willing or able to pass.  The deeper you go, the more technical and demanding the terrain gets.  Explore as far as you are comfortable. 

Rock climbers will generally feel very comfortable with fourth class scrambling that is encountered further in the canyon. You can travel roughly a half mile or so into the canyon, which requires some low level canyoneering and rock climbing.  Eventually, however, the slickness of the rock and the recent rainfall-induced puddles will likley turn you around. In drier weather, however, it may be possible to continue even farther.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Low congestion. Low-level canyoneering. Varied terrain. Lots of shelter and shade.

Cons

Unsteady footing and loose rocks. Traversing a stream.

Trailhead Elevation

3,231.00 ft (984.81 m)

Highest point

3,507.00 ft (1,068.93 m)

Features

Waterfalls
Near lake or river

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Nearby Lodging + Camping

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