No visit to Goblin Valley State Park would be complete without a hike to nearby Little Wild Horse Canyon. Part of the San Rafael Swell (not Goblin Valley State Park), Little Wild Horse is an easily accessible, non-technical slot canyon.
We camped in Hanksville, UT, and it took us about 45 minutes to get to the turnoff for Little Wild Horse Canyon (a sign about 5 miles from the entrance to Goblin Valley State Park). From there it took us another 15 minutes or so to get to the trailhead, which was MUCH busier than we had anticipated.
When you start your hike, you wouldn’t think that a slot canyon would be around the corner. At first, the stream bed is wide and stony. The wash meanders along while the crumbling cliffs at either side gain height gradually. Our family enjoyed climbing small boulders in the canyon and scrambling up the walls in this section. The gorgeous wavy walls begin to narrow, and we were able to teach Calvin how to “bridge” over the water. (Luckily there wasn’t a ton of water in the slot canyon, as we didn’t bring appropriate canyoneering shoes.)
Some people choose to partner Wild Horse Canyon and Bell Canyon, to do an 8-mile loop. Other do an out and back of Wild Horse Canyon (which is what we were doing). As the narrows get narrower, there are stretches where only one person can fit at a time. We ran into several other families, and we would have to maneuver to a location where we could pass. (One dad ‘stemmed’ up the canyon and went over our heads!) Finally, we ran into another family and there was no place to pass each other, so we just turned back.
We had such a fun time in Wild Horse Canyon. Chris loves slot canyons and used to do a Canyoneering trip every year before Calvin was born. This was an excellent introduction to ‘canyoneering’ for Calvin (and myself)!
NOTE: Although the trail is well marked, we did take a wrong turn. It led us to the Buckhorn Wash Pictograph Panel, which was a pretty cool find!