UTAH: Little Wild Horse and Bell Canyons

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These two slot canyons are located within the San Rafael Reef south-southeast of the San Rafael Swell on BLM land. Both lie within the Crack Canyon Wilderness Study Area and the San Rafael Reef Area of Critical Environmental Concern. These canyons are an incredibly scenic, precious resource requiring the utmost of good stewardship by visitors. Please leave no trace of your presence.

The images appearing are from an eight-mile loop that passes through the three major areas described below.

1. Little Wild Horse Canyon

A major portion of the route through this canyon traverses narrows between two and five feet wild providing a deeply shaded, mystical environment. Other parts are wider and admit considerable sunshine. Cases in which the sunlit strikes the walls are then reflects into the depths of the canyon creates the most dramatic views.

2. Behind the Reef

The upper end of Little Wild Horse Canyon broadens as it exits the back of the San Rafael Reef. To reach Bell Canyon, travel to the left through the area just behind the Reef is necessary. This area provides views of a variety of scenic rock formations including shear Wingate sandstone cliffs and glimpses of the top of the Reef.

3. Bell Canyon

This canyon has a narrow base in many places but has sloped walls so is more openly illuminated that Little Wild Horse. It also provides more views of the top of the Reef. While quite scenic, it provides a very different feel from Little Wild Horse.

Photography Notes: Contrast differences between the darkness of the narrows and brightly illuminated cliffs ahead or above are a challenge. In this case, the challenge was met by extensive use of Photoshop. In addition, processing was applied to images shot with Fujichrome Provia to approximate the characteristics of Fujichrome Velvia. The results are often more colorful than to the naked eye.