Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
1,296.00 ft (395.02 m)
Trail type
8.50 mi (13.68 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.

One of the best loop hikes in San Rafael Swell.  Little Wild Horse and Bell Canyon are very popular so go early for a parking spot. The best time to hike is in spring and summer. You may encounter standing water in Little Wild Horse.  Also, be sure to have up to date forecast information.  This canyon has claimed the lives of hikers over the years and recently (May 2020) two sisters (7 and 3) were washed away in the canyon during a flash flood and killed.  Rain, slots and hikers are not a good combination.

From the trailhead, follow the sandy bench on the left of the wash.  In short order this drops down into the wash.  About .25 miles is a pour off that is easily passed on the left or right but you can also try to ascend straight ahead. A few minutes after this Bell Canyon enters on the left.  Stay right as it is easier to ascend Little Wild Horse.  Little Wild Horse has many slot sections, several that are only shoulder width apart. This goes on for over three miles.

The canyon opens to a dry wash surrounded by sandstone mountains.  The route is well marked and at another dry wash entering one the left, there is a sign directing hiker to the left wash for Bell Canyon. After about 15 minutes, watch on the left for a well worn social trail.  This will lead out to Behind the Reef road (so does the wash).  Turn left on the road and follow for over 1.5 miles.  The next wash is Bell Canyon and has great signage pointing this out.

Turn into Bell Canyon and follow until you meet back with Little Wild Horse and out to the parking area.  Bell Canyon does have some slots but they are not as impressive and many people just do Little Wild Horse to avoid the long walk on the road.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Two beautiful slot canyons.


Occasionally crowded. Required to walk a road to link the canyons.

Trailhead Elevation

4,982.00 ft (1,518.51 m)

Highest point

5,774.00 ft (1,759.92 m)


Vault toilet
Geologically significant

Typically multi-day


Permit required




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