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Hiking Belly of the Dragon, near Kanab, Utah

Nestled in the scenic landscapes of Kanab, Utah, along Highway 89 lies a hidden gem, the Belly of the Dragon Trail. This unique hike, characterized by a winding, dragon-like tunnel, offers a great hiking experience. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a family seeking a memorable outing, the Belly of the Dragon promises intrigue, beauty, a touch of mystery, and a lot of fun. In this article, we’ll guide you through everything you need about this one-of-a-kind hike, from practical tips to nearby attractions.

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Agnes Stabinska, the author and co-owner of The Van Escape blog, is hiking in the Belly of the Dragon tunnel near Kanab

Hiking Belly of the Dragon – Our Experiences

Kanab, Utah, holds a special place in our hearts as one of our most frequented destinations in the Southwest. Kanab offers thrilling attractions. Among the myriad of adventures to embark on, the Belly of the Dragon hike stands out as a top choice.

This trail is short, easy, and fun, an ideal spot for families and adventurers. In this article, we’ll guide you through everything you need to know about the Belly of the Dragon trail, from getting there to what you can expect. It’s a journey that promises to be as captivating as the destination itself!

What is Belly Of The Dragon?

Belly of the Dragon is an intriguing tunnel carved into the sandstone beneath Highway 89 near Kanab, Utah. It’s named for its winding, dragon-like appearance and offers a unique hiking experience. The tunnel was initially created for water drainage but has since become a popular spot for adventurers.

Is Belly of the Dragon Worth it?

Absolutely! Belly of the Dragon offers a unique and relatively easy hike. The tunnel’s mysterious appearance and the surrounding scenery make it a worthwhile stop for those exploring the region. It’s a great spot for photography and a fun adventure for families.

Where is Belly of the Dragon?

Belly of the Dragon is located near Kanab, Utah, just off Highway 89. It’s situated between the towns of Kanab and Mount Carmel Junction, providing easy access for travelers in the area. Look for a parking area on the north side of the highway, near mile marker 43. From there, a short walk leads to the tunnel entrance. Kanab is also one of the best outdoor towns in Utah.

Belly of the Dragon Directions

From Kanab:

The distance from Kanab to Belly of the Dragon is approximately 16 miles, with a driving time of around 20 to 30 minutes. You will need to turn left onto a dirt road at mile marker 80, across from a small brown Zion National Park sign. If you reach Mount Carmel Junction, you have gone too far.

From Zion National Park:

Head east on UT-9 E toward the Zion–Mount Carmel Hwy. Turn right onto US-89 N. Continue on US-89 N for approximately 17 miles. Look for the parking area near mile marker 80 on the north side of the highway.
Park your car and follow the short trail to the tunnel entrance.

From Bryce Canyon National Park:

Head west on UT-12 W/UT-63 S toward Bryce Canyon National Park. Turn right onto US-89 S. Continue on US-89 S for approximately 58 miles. Look for the parking area near mile marker 80 on the north side of the highway. Park your car and follow the short trail to the tunnel entrance.

tunnel Belly of the Dragon
Agnes in Belly of the Dragon in Utah

How Much Does it Cost to Go to the Belly of the Dragon?

Visiting Belly of the Dragon is free of charge. There’s no entrance fee, and parking is available nearby. It’s an accessible and budget-friendly attraction for travelers.

How long is Belly of the Dragon Hike?

The hike through Belly of the Dragon is relatively short, spanning about a half-mile round trip. It’s suitable for all skill levels, and you can explore further if you wish, as the tunnel opens up to a canyon.

Do you need a permit for Belly of the Dragon?

No, you don’t need a permit to hike Belly of the Dragon. It’s open to the public, and no special permissions are required. This trail is also pet friendly, but remember to keep your dog on the lash.

Is Belly of the Dragon Man-Made?

Yes, Belly of the Dragon is a man-made structure. It was originally carved as a drainage tunnel for Highway 89 above. Its unique appearance has since attracted hikers and explorers. Over time, it gained popularity among locals and tourists alike for its dragon-like appearance and the adventure it offers. It’s now a well-known hiking spot in the region.

Hiking Tips

  • Wear Comfortable Footwear: The trail is relatively easy, but proper hiking shoes provide better grip and comfort.
  • Bring Water and Snacks: Though it’s a short hike, staying hydrated and having energy-boosting snacks can enhance the experience.
  • Check Weather Conditions: The tunnel can be slippery if wet, so check the weather forecast before heading out.
  • Bring a Headlamp or Flashlight: The inside of the tunnel can be quite dark, so having a headlamp or small flashlight will help you navigate safely.
  • Explore Beyond the Tunnel: The tunnel opens up to a canyon, so feel free to explore further if you’re up for more adventure.
  • Mind the Kids: The trail is family-friendly, but always keep an eye on children, especially inside the tunnel.
  • Respect the Environment: Leave no trace by packing all trash and staying on the designated paths.

Photography Tips

  • Experiment with Angles: The winding shape of the tunnel offers unique perspectives. Try different angles to capture its essence.
  • Capture the Details: The textured walls of the tunnel provide interesting close-up shots. Don’t forget to notice the small details.
  • Play with Light: If you visit during different times of the day, the lighting inside the tunnel will change, offering various photographic opportunities.
  • Include People for Scale: Having someone in your shot can give viewers a sense of the tunnel’s size.
  • Use a Tripod: The tunnel can be dimly lit, so a tripod will help capture sharp images.

Other attractions in the area

Often referred to as “Little Hollywood,” Kanab is a hidden gem in the heart of Utah’s scenic landscapes. It’s the gateway to some of the Southwest’s most breathtaking natural wonders, including Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. The city itself exudes a warm and inviting charm and boasts a rich history of Western film that can be explored at local museums.

Kanab is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts with opportunities to hike, bike, and explore unique geological formations. For those who want to take it a little easier, Kanab’s restaurants offer delicious culinary experiences, and the city’s art galleries showcase the region’s creativity. In other words, if you are in the Kanab area, also add to your itinerary:

  • Moqui Caverns: These intriguing caverns are filled with history and mystery. Once used by miners, Moqui Caverns is now a popular destination for those looking to explore the underground wonders of the region.
  • The Great Chamber, called Cutler Cove: A hidden gem in the desert, the Great Chamber at Cutler Cove is a massive sandstone alcove. Its grandeur and beauty are awe-inspiring, making it a perfect spot for photography and exploration.
  • Peekaboo Canyon in Kanab: Known for its mesmerizing red rock formations, it is a must-visit for adventure seekers. The narrow, winding paths reveal hidden treasures and provide an unforgettable hiking experience.
Agnes in Great Chamber - huge sandstone alcove.
slot canyon near Kanab - Peekaboo Canyon with it's red and orange walls
  • The Nautilus Hike: A hidden treasure in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, The Nautilus Hike leads to a stunning swirling rock formation. This moderate hike offers a unique geological experience and is perfect for those exploring something off the beaten path.
  • Paria Rimrocks Toadstool Hoodoos: These fascinating mushroom-shaped rock formations are a must-see near Kanab. The Paria Rimrocks Toadstool Hoodoos trail is an easy hike that leads to an otherworldly landscape, offering incredible photo opportunities.
  • Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park: A breathtaking natural wonder, this park is home to stunning pink sand dunes that stretch as far as the eye can see. Whether you’re into hiking, off-roading, or simply enjoying the view, Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park offers something for everyone.
pink dunes with mountains in background in Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, which is located close to the trailhead to the Belly of the Dragon

The Belly of the Dragon Hike – Final Thoughts

The Belly of the Dragon Hike is more than just a hiking trail; indeed, it’s a unique adventure that encapsulates the essence of the enchanting region around Kanab, Utah. This short and easily accessible hike, with its dragon-like tunnel, offers a unique experience for travelers of all ages, and the option to explore further adds to the allure.

However, the Belly of the Dragon is not the only highlight; the surrounding area is also rich in other natural wonders. From the swirling rock formations of the Nautilus Hike to the whimsical shapes of Paria Rimrocks Toadstool Hoodoos, there is much to discover and enjoy.

So, whether you’re a seasoned hiker, an avid photographer, or a family looking for a memorable getaway, the Belly of the Dragon and surrounding attractions are sure to captivate. With our detailed guide, tips, and insights, we hope to inspire you to lace up your hiking boots, grab a flashlight, and head out to discover this hidden gem. Your adventure awaits, and we’re here to guide you every step of the way!

tunnel  Belly of the Dragon trail

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