Remote and Rugged Red Rocks – Kanab, Utah

Adjusting future stops and extending our stay here in Kanab was a good decision, as it was a place where we wanted to (and still want to) spend more time.  The weather was perfect, and fortunately J&J RV Park was able to accommodate our request to extend.

I had initially thought of writing one big post about our adventures here, which would have gotten me caught up more quickly.  But all of our explorations during this stop, along with the hundreds of pictures I took, changed my mind.

Prepare for some more red rocks!

I didn’t get far up this little spire 🙂

Red Canyon – aka Peek-A-Boo Slot Canyon

If we’d been able to synchronize our visit with friends John and Pam or Dave and Sue, who were here just ahead of us, we might have been able to bum a ride to this beautiful place with them in their Jeep.  Our Honda CRV would never have made it through the deep sand, and hiking 8 miles round trip from a parking spot to the trailhead was a but much.  So we bit the bullet and hired a local outfitter to do the driving and a guided tour.  Steve was happy to not have to drive for a day!

Our CRV would have gotten stuck right about there!

We had an early morning tour on a perfect sunny day, and the low-angled sun reflecting off the red rocks made the canyon dramatic and fiery:

Entrance to the slot canyon
Our greeter this time was an unhappy little Diamondback Rattlesnake

Having previously been herded like cows at the spectacular Lower Antelope Slot Canyon in Page, Arizona, we were excited to leisurely explore this gorgeous gem on a tiny tour and see hardly anyone else.  Steve and I both had cameras snapping away on this journey!

Steve insists on getting credit when he “lucks out” and takes a good shot 🙂
Don’t they look like glowing embers?

Without our guide, we may have overlooked these ancient seafloor remains, fossilized sea coral
Our guide poured water on this rock to display the tiny star-shaped sea urchins it held

Wind and water created multi-angled ripples and flutes throughout the canyon

It was an easy stroll as we followed the twists and turns, straining our necks to take everything in.  We were tantalized by a visual array of reds, cool browns and hot oranges on the sandstone walls.  Some broken logs and other debris were wedged up high, evidence of past flash floods that had raged through the canyon.

As we rounded a corner, our guide pointed out some Moqui (or Moki) steps.  These are alternating hand and toe holds carved into the vertical sandstone surfaces, possibly to allow ancestral Puebloan people access to difficult-to-reach areas:

There must have been a ladder to get to the first hold

A chubby lizard showed up for the photo shoot

Hiking or strolling through narrow slot canyons holds a certain mystique for us, and we are always drawn to them.  There are other easily accessible slot canyons near here, notably Lick Wash and Water Hole Canyons, which we have explored with friends in the past.  But if you have a 4-wheel drive vehicle or can reserve a tour to this one, don’t miss it!

Edmaiers Secret – aka Brown Pocket

Another photogenic spot in this vast wild rugged landscape is little-known Edmaiers Secret.  It’s 45 miles east of Kanab and 5 miles south of US-89 off House Rock Valley Road.

We started at a trailhead that is shared with Buckskin Gulch (on our future to-do list).  It’s an easy 5-mile out and back on a sandy path
Buckskin Wash

The location is named after German landscape photographer Bernard Edmaier, who first identified the formations from the air.  The destination is a small area with a grouping of strangely eroded sandstone domes and cones, resembling a brain and crossed by thin rock fins.

Early on, Steve spotted this unusual little arch near the trail
We came upon a fence line where water and erosion was working its best
Up on that hill is our destination – Edmaiers Secret formations

We reached the spot after trekking 2 miles downstream, partly through the wash and partly along trails on either side.  So what did we discover?  I’ll let my camera do the talking:

The sandy section was not too deep
A brain on steroids?
In a valley of “brain rocks”, a tiny person scampered to the top

We had the place to ourselves, loved it!
Interesting eroded formation
Only nature could create a sculpture like this
How the heck was this formed?

We also noticed an occasional splash of color:

Delicate rock fins jutted up all around

Thin sheets of parallel fins
The lizards here seem to enjoy posing for me, I wish birds would do that!

We would have stayed longer to look for more of the unique formations, but it was getting hot so after a few miles we headed back to the air-conditioned comfort of the car.  Edmaiers Secret is definitely an interesting and fascinating diverse landscape with strange eroded sandstone.  Try to visit before it becomes a permit-only area.

Cockscomb Uplift, as seen from House Rock Valley Road on our way back home

We capped our day with a sunset at Coral Pink Sand Dunes to see if it’s really pink as advertised and described.  In our haste to get there in time for the sunset we made a wrong turn, but still made it to see the low sun bring out an amazing pink color:

I thought this was a cute picture of family picture

We were not disappointed, the dunes presented quite an impressive scene. It is so named for the soft red hues of the sand.  Over thousands of years the sand has been collecting as the wind gradually forces the grains from the surrounding red sandstone formations.

What do you think, is it pink or is it pink-orange?
How about now?  A close up of the dune that seemed to glow from reflections of the setting sun

And the highlight of our Kanab stop is yet to come!




  1. Totally amazing environment shaped by millions of years of climates! Loved all your photos, pink, orange, red, copper, white and even beige, thank you for sharing 🙂

  2. Oh my goodness… these photos are gorgeous and the scenery and colors are incredible! Adding some new things to my travel list today for sure! Also, it’s funny that you saw a brain in that one photo… when I first saw it I immediately thought of a turtle, though I do see the brain now that you pointed it out.

    • Diana, Southern Utah is a hikers paradise, Kanab is just one place. So yes make Kanab one of your destination you will not be disappointed.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing these pictures — I’ve never seen anything like those rocks, especially the fins!

    • Glad you liked the pictures which I can say do not give justice to the actual scenery. Only in Southern Utah can you see all these amazing and fantastical landscape.

  4. Amazing and perplexing landscape. Looks like a fun slot canyon. Oh, how I love southern Utah. Can’t wait for your next post!

  5. These photos are just wonderful! We love that area and especially the slot canyons, so this post was such a treat! And the scenery in that second hike was truly out of this world – so many unique and interesting formations in one location! I cannot wait to get back to southern Utah and you just threw gasoline on the fire! Great post!

  6. Glad you did get to see Peek-a-Boo Slot. It was a pretty spot with an interesting drive. We will have try once again to find Edmairer’s Secret. Maybe with your directions we can find the place. I would love to check it out. Your photos are fantastic and have me really curious. The sand never looked even close to pink. Peach or Orange sand it is!

    • Yes, we will share with you the trail to Edmaiers Secret. I know you will love to poke around there in peace and quiet. We were the only ones during the hike.

  7. So glad that you got to Peek-a-boo. I think that the difficulty one encounters getting there makes it even more special. And, seeing it alone is the icing on the cake. The Kanab area has so much to offer, I hope it doesn’t become overrun like some of the other spectacular places in Utah. Discovering these places in virtual solitude is magical.

    • I know Sue, it feels like Kanab will slowly become Moab. For now we did enjoy the solitude and the hiking adventures but still so much to see and do.

    • Thank you Debbie, You cant have a bad picture with this kind of scenery 🙂 A week is not enough and the trails are just right in your alley.

  8. Thank you so much, you are making our hiking “to-do” list for when we get to Kanab! I’ve been wanting to go to Peek-a-Boo Canyon now that almost ALL of our best hiking buddies have been there, but I’ve never heard of Edmaiers Secret until now. Those are some crazy, wondrous, other-worldly formations!

    I agree the Coral Pink Sand Dunes look like kind of a pink-orange hue. Peach? Salmon? Terracotta? Whatever color it is, it’s beautiful. And also on our list! :-))

    • I think it is more like Salmon, but you know there was a pinkish glow (for a few minutes at sunset) that I thought the camera has captured. Edmaiers Secret is relatively still unknown, I will let you know how to get there when you get to Kanab someday.

  9. I am route-planning for that area now, and like Laurel said, you just keep making our hiking list for us! We can’t wait to See All The Things in that area. Except maybe the snake. We keep wondering when you’re getting to Great Basin because we’re excited to see your take on it, but the photos and adventures until then are sure whetting our appetites to move again!

    • He he two more post before we get to Nevada 🙂 There are trail in Kanab that is just right in your alley, long and scenic, include Buckskin Gulch on your list (we have to return to do that one).

  10. Slot. Anyone are my favorite…we definitely need to make plans for a visit to Kanab! Love, love the Coral Pink Sand Dune pictures…a huge “WOW”!

  11. Wonderful photos as usual. It’s amazing that we can walk on the bottom of the ocean without getting wet.

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