Kanarraville to implement permit system for popular falls hike

Graham Nelson looks up Kanarra Falls on July 19, 2014. Due to the large number of visitors to the falls, there will soon be a permit system in place for people to visit the canyon and falls | Photo by Joyce Kuzmanic, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Those wanting to visit the popular Kanarra Falls in the future will soon need to obtain a permit, like many of the other popular backcountry hikes in Southern Utah.

In this 2016 photo, hikers prepare to descend Kanarra Falls on one of the iconic ladders, near Kanarraville, Utah, May 2016 | Photo by Spencer Ricks, St. George News

Permits will hopefully cut down on the large number of hikers to Kanarra Falls, Kanarraville Town Clerk David Ence said. The town of Kanarraville, in conjunction with Iron County, will be administering the new permit system by as early as this spring, Ence said.

Read more: Town wants help with ongoing costs of maintaining Kanarraville Falls

“As it is right now, the high usage season is basically out of control and the quality of the hike suffers,” Ence said. “We have complaints from hikers all through the season to fix it.”

The popularity of Kanarra Falls has grown significantly in recent years due to social media and pictures of the area being posted online. The hike follows Kanarra Creek from Kanarraville into a classic slot canyon with high red-rock walls, which leads to two iconic waterfalls with makeshift ladders on the sides to climb. 

“This land leads to an incredible slot canyon that is growing in popularity and a wilderness study area that is home to two major canyons, with ridges nearly 8,000 feet up,” said Keith Rigtrup, acting Cedar City field manager for the Bureau of Land Management.

Over 45,000 people visited Kanarra Falls last year, Ence said.

“The main reason of implementing a permit system for Kanarra Falls hike is to better manage the number of hikers through a very small space which is subject to erosion and contamination,” Ence said.

The town of Kanarraville currently charges $10 for every car parked at the Kanarra Falls hike trailhead, which is maintained by the city. When the permit system is implemented this spring, Ence said there will be no limit to how many people may purchase permits. They will cost $5 per hiker and be available online.

This 2016 photo shows Kanarra Creek flowing through the slot canyon on the way to Kanarra Falls, near Kanarraville, Utah, May 2016 | Photo by Spencer Ricks, St. George News

However, if the permit system doesn’t significantly cut down on the number of visitors to Kanarra Falls, Ence said there may be additional limits put in place. Other popular backcountry hikes like The Subway in Zion National Park already have limits on how many people can visit it at any given time. 

“This first year is a test and we don’t know if permitting will cut the numbers or not,” Ence said. “If the permitting system doesn’t manage numbers better, we will have to do a per-day cap.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter:  @STGnews | @SpencerRicks

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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  • Caveat_Emptor February 14, 2018 at 9:06 am

    A day use fee, on top of parking lot fee, implies some form of organization. Perhaps it is time to fix the “iconic” ladders, so the Iron County S&R guys make fewer visits to rescue injured people.

    • comments February 14, 2018 at 2:10 pm

      Well, I think they plan to add in toilets. They talked a lot about how people thought the reservoir up there was there to be used as a toilet. Basically it was filling up with human excrement from all the tourists to the point they feared the town’s water supply would be contaminated. Fun fun.

  • utahdiablo February 14, 2018 at 11:05 pm

    Bano Mami, Bano…..ah Si Mijo, Bano aqui….you all asked for it

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