“It’s like DISNEYLAND!”

Box Canyon Mark and Bobbie have been everywhere, and have mental files of boondocking spots and scenic hikes that would rival any travel publication.  So when Mark says “It’s one of my most favorite hikes,” I take note.

It’s over Jim’s celebratory birthday lunch when Mark makes his pitch.  “Hear me out.  I know of a place you would love.  It’s a long drive, and we would have to get an early start, but it is one of the most fun hikes ever.  It’s like Disneyland!”

There is some hesitation as we finish up our desserts.  It would mean an early start, and a total of three hours on the road.   We are already positioned in one of the most scenic areas of the country.  Why drive 3 hours?   But it’s not one, but TWO slot canyons!  I really want to do this hike, but two slot canyons in an area I have never been before is not a hike I would be comfortable doing alone.   I keep my mouth shut, since I am the “junior member of the Red Rocks gang.”    I wait.  I study facial expressions.  Finally, Mark says, “Well, Bobbie and I are going regardless, so anyone is welcome to join us.”  YIPPEEEEE!!   And slowly, one by one, Gayle, Jim, and Debbie are in.

Beautiful scenery near Goblin Valley State Park

Beautiful scenery near Goblin Valley State Park

Crazy Cottonwood Tree

Crazy Cottonwood Tree

Let this be a lesson to you...KEEP UP!

Let this be a lesson to you…KEEP UP!

One thing I learn quickly is that punctuality is critical with the Box Canyon Duo.  They are sitting outside my door 3 minutes early at 7:57am, while I haven’t even brushed my teeth yet!  I race out the door as fast as I can, and we are off for a grand adventure!

We will hike up Bell Canyon first, then take a long, uphill connector road, and return via the more scenic of the two slot canyons, Little Wild Horse.

Box Canyon Mark says "It's just like Disneyland!"

Box Canyon Mark says “It’s just like Disneyland!”



Jim in a tight spot...

Jim in a tight spot…

We are not into the first slot canyon but a few hundred feet when we come to our first obstacle…and it’s a big one.   Being the slowest, least experienced of the hikers, I stay to the back, and I soon learn when I come upon the group stopped, there is trouble ahead.   There is a shelf in front of us that is higher than our heads.  A few rocks have been piled up as steps, but even so, the path is still over our shoulders.    It is interesting to watch between Mark, Bobbie, Jim and Gayle how they discuss getting the six of us up and over.  Mark slaps his knee and says “Step here.”  I say “Only if you want a broken leg!”   It is at this point that all vanity must go out the door, or get left behind.   Mark and Jim are on both sides of my posterior end, trying to hoist me up over the ridge, and I am just holding my breath hoping I don’t fall backwards and topple them both.  Well, at least I shaved my legs…

"You want me to step WHERE?"

“You want me to step WHERE?”


The one with the longest legs is the last one up...

The one with the longest legs is the last one up…

Although there are more “choke stones” (the large rocks that fall into the slot canyon, causing an impasse,) none are as challenging as that first one, and navigation through the canyon does indeed start to feel like a game from my childhood.  Mark is right.  It IS like Disneyland!

Bell Canyon offers many dramatic landscapes with stark opposing angular walls, overhangs, and varying shades of rock, with a few challenges to navigate through.  But we ain’t seen nothing yet…until we get to the red rocks of Little Wild Horse.  Though one advantage of Bell Canyon, we have the entire canyon to ourselves with the exception of a mother daughter duo.

Path is only as wide as your shoe.

Path is only as wide as your shoe.


Soon, we are on the long and winding road uphill that is the middle section of the loop leading to the entrance (or actually, in the case of the loop hike, “exit”) of Little Wild Horse Canyon.   We stop for lunch in a scenic spot with nice flat rocks for a bit of a break from the uphill climb in the sun.

IMG_1265IMG_1269IMG_1267IMG_1272Jim and Gayle always look like clean, crisply pressed Columbia Sportswear models when they are hiking.   But Jim has a certain swagger that reminds me of someone, and I have been trying to decide who it is all week.   Finally, as we are sitting on the rocks, it hits me.  He reminds me of J. Peterman of J. Peterman Catalogue fame.   If you were a Seinfeld fan, you will remember J. Peterman was Elaine’s boss, the eccentric adventurer who has a love of fine clothing.  Even after climbing over rocks and scrambling through dust and dirt, Jim is spotless.IMG_1299 IMG_1301 IMG_1305

We are having a grand time, walking single file through the narrow, high walls of the canyon, climbing over choke stones, dodging mud puddles about half way through the Little Wild Horse Canyon, when all of a sudden, crowds are upon us.  It seems as Mark said “Church must have just let out!”   It is UEA weekend in Utah, Utah Education Association, which equates to all of Utah being out for fall break, and it would appear half of them have come to do this hike!

Bobbie checks out the path to the canyon floor, which is filled with water, so we must go up and over.

Bobbie checks out the path to the canyon floor, which is filled with water, so we must go up and over.

Mark is attempting to coax the rest of us down the "slide."

Mark is attempting to coax the rest of us down the “slide.”


Throngs of people, most of them kids come flooding into the canyon making it impossible to move.   There is a line behind us, and a never-ending line in front of us, all waiting for their turn to walk through the narrow, single-file section of the canyon.   I do not suffer from claustrophobia in tight spaces, but the crowds are enough to make me want to climb the canyon walls.  Given the long lines of sweaty bodies, Mark’s description of “It’s like Disneyland!” takes on a whole new meaning, as we find ourselves waiting in the longest line yet for the “ride” out of the canyon.IMG_1287IMG_1289

Finally, we all emerge intact.  We are covered in bright orange dust on the seats of our pants, elbows, backs, socks and shoes.   All except for “Peterman,” that is.   He still looks like he just stepped out of a catalog shoot…IMG_1320

15 thoughts on ““It’s like DISNEYLAND!”

  1. Suzanne, this was a wonderful post! I guess your hike really did live up to Disneyland with great rides but the dreaded long lines and tons of people!! Too funny! I love you description of Jim and J Peterman:) Getting over those choke stones can be tricky. Getting down can even harder. I came down off one stone one time on John’s head. Too bad someone wasn’t taking pictures!

    Your photos are beautiful! Yours is the third post from the gang and I am loving this hike! Can’t wait til spring to hike it when the schools are OPEN!!

  2. Love your description and the photo. Looks like it was both the good and bad of Disneyland ! Your posts are so tempting – if I didn’t have a roof to fix I’d be heading back to Utah.

  3. We stayed nestled near the cliffs outside of Goblin State Park with immense sunrise and sunsets. The weather looked good but rains the day before closed Wild Horse to hikers. So glad to see it through your eyes…….I don’t even have sore muscles!

  4. Fabulous fabulous pictures of a super sensational hike. I wish there was yet another person to blog about it so I could do it all over again. That I wish I’d been there is flat out true EXCEPT for the crowds. Boy do I hate crowds especially on hikes. If they were totally quiet it would at least be an improvement. SO next time you guys go on a non holiday week-end give me a 2 months heads up and I’ll dash over to join you. LOL

  5. Well, the Lazy Daze gang, aka “red rocks gang/Box Canyon Gang/AARP Gang,” has re-entered the Internet Zone. I’m working on Little Wild Horse, Part II and decided to take a look at your post so I don’t repeat the same old thing. You took all the good jokes about Jim tho, :)). Your photos came out great, too!!! Now back to work…must put on my “Grouch” hat.
    Box Canyon Mark…Long legged, long armed…big hands, big feet, and suitably skinny for slot canyon hikes :))

  6. What a ride! Again… I’m so glad you are posting such good photos of places I’ll never see in person. This one looked like fun, though. I found myself thinking, “That’s not so high,” “That doesn’t look that bad.” LOL Right! From my dinette bench. I’m glad you all made it in one piece. Love the Peterman references, and you’re right, Jim and Gayle DO always look perfect. 🙂

  7. Fantastic rock formations. Looking at it now its hard to image the rivers that ran through the area all those years ago.. Between your blog and your friends blogs I feel as if I have been there. It looks as if its so far so good on your trip down the retirement road.

  8. What a great hike! Lately I’ve been wanting to beef up my outdoor wardrobe, I normally go in my walking dead tee shirt and shorts–all mis-matched and disheveled looking and approach others who look as you describe like LL Bean models…makes me wonder if I’m being taken seriously or not that it matters.

  9. Well, dang. I am not suitably skinny for slot canyon hikes but I do them anyway. I loved this post, so much, you reminded me of my own insecurities…and yes…I would/will be thoroughly intimidated by the BoxCanyonDuo no matter how much I hope to hike with them someday…or behind them…a lot behind them. Mostly I want Mark to tell me your secret boondocking site. It was so great seeing photos of Little Wildhorse that match some of my old film shots from pre digital days, but all those kiddies? no way!! I would have bailed and had a beer (my own) in camp and waited for that mess to be over!

  10. I fear that the slots shall never be on our punch list. I too suffer from the slightest bit of claustrophobia and the high wall filled with screaming kids would have made me crazy. Besides we would never get Deede’s walker through some of those narrow spots. Really enjoyed both the prose and pictures. You had us laughing at your climb up the first unexpected blockage. Keep on…

  11. Lisa — Yes, I want more, more more! I want to try to talk the gang into doing a part of Buckskin Gulch one day!

    Pam — Wish you guys could have joined us…well…at least on a different day! I would love to repeat that hike again some day…on a Wednesday in the early am!

    John — I am near Canyonlands now…been thinking about you every time I see the Green River!

    Karen — I saw those sites nestled up against the rocks. They looked like beautiful boondocks indeed!

    Pat — (Hi, Debbie’s Mom!) My mistake…Debbie sat this one out, because we were going to be gone all day…too long for poor Rupert and Elliott! I will give her some “air time” in the next post. haha!

    Sherry — It’s a DATE, my friend!

    BC Mark — You are indeed the “Slot Canyon Spiderman!” Wish I could scale those rocks like you do! Too much “gravity!”

    Barbara (Hi, Katie!) — I agree, they don’t look all that high, but use Mark as perspective. He is 6’3″ tall. 😉

    Jim — No. I am afraid to!!!

    Dave — Yes, retirement has been a perpetual holiday so far! Trying to squeeze all I can out of the best time of the year!

    Sondra — I went in the canyon looking like LL Bean and came out looking like the Walking Dead! LOL!

    Sue — The BoxCanyonDuo are a couple of the nicest people I have met. You might be “left behind” temporarily, but not for long. Always made to feel a part of “the gang!”

    Allen — Thanks for the always nice comment. I hope I gave you a feel of the beauty without the claustrophobia! It was a marvel of a place while it was just us, but once the people began filling the cracks, I was ready to escape!

  12. I do suffer from claustrophobia but it looks as if you can look up and see sky in many of your shots, which would work for me. This hike sounds fascinating. 🙂

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