Catstair Canyon

Forty miles east of Kanab, Utah, Catstair Canyon offers a quiet, less-trafficked slot canyon. Just past the Catstair Rip Rap sits a turnoff for the opposite side of the canyon. The small gravel parking area on the right side of the highway is easily accessible by all passenger vehicles. You can also look for House Rock Valley Road and pull off between mile markers 24 & 25.

After parking, hikers make their way through a cattle gate at the start of the trail. Be sure to close the gate securely behind you so that no cattle make their way to the road. A flat path winds from the road through some underbrush toward a wash. The trail drops into the wash before leading back into a wide, short slot.

Look to the left when entering the canyon to spot the pictographs high upon the wall. The most notable include the outline of a man, a group of choppy squiggle lines, and a solid yellow bug. Hikers may climb up on the rocks beneath the artwork to get a closer look. The rock art is simple yet defined, very well preserved despite the years.

Opposite the wall from the rock art, a fault line juts through the rocks beneath the highway. A fault line is where two sections of the earth’s crust meet. Fault lines occur when the earth’s tectonic plates move or shift and are often areas where earthquakes are more likely to occur. This particular fault line is called a reverse fault line, where one part of the earth’s crust is poking above the other part.

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The slot canyon is short and wide, ending at a tall rock wall dividing the canyon from the Catstair Rip Rap and cars on the other side. Hikers can wander in and out of the little nooks and crannies to explore the small area. In addition to the wall of rock art, the slot is full of interesting and unique rock formations.

There is very little elevation gain, making for a very flat hike that is more of a walk and about a mile and a half round trip. This makes the trip an excellent option for any age and fitness level. Dogs are welcome on or off leash. Please do not deface the rock art in any way. Be sure to check the weather before you go; even a short slot canyon should be avoided with a chance of rain.

Written by: Lauren Kehoe

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