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White Owl Canyon

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White Owl Canyon is a series of beautiful slot canyons in Lake Mead Recreation Area near Las Vegas. This can either be done as a moderate 3 1/2 mile loop or an easy 2 mile there and back. Both ways take you through the most impressive sections of the canyon! This isn’t too crowded. We went mid-morning on a Saturday in October and only passed a few other people.

Head to the Owl Canyon Trailhead in Lake Mead National Recreation Area where there is a parking lot and restroom. At the north end of the lot there is a sign to show the beginning of the trail. Head down the hill along the path.

Then the path is mostly flat and lined with rocks. Soon you get to the intersection. The coolest slot canyons are off to the left. If you want a short there and back hike, head left. If you plan to do the whole loop and want to end with the highlights head right. I will explain it heading left since some want a there and back.

Lake Mead is extraordinarily low this year (35% capacity), but in the past this area has been covered with water, so there are many shells along the path. You can see the canyon ahead.

The canyon walls start to get a bit higher and closer together.

This area is shady most of the day because of the high walls and is so fun to walk through!

I included one with my hiking group so you could see the scale of the canyon.

This is such a beautiful area with so many photo opportunities!

At around 2/3 mile, you go through a tunnel under the road. The slot continues on the opposite side.

Here the slot isn’t quite as impressive, but still very cool!

Soon you can see a second set of culverts to go under the paved River Mountains paved trail. If you have toddlers or just want to do a there and back, I would turn around at this point. It would make this about two easy miles round trip.

If you want to continue the loop, head through either culvert to the other side.

One the other side the canyon opens up. Head to the end of the reddish colored dirt and then head to the right. There is a path that heads backwards up the hill to walk along the ridge on that side. The first image is walking towards the reddish dirt and the second is on the higher path, looking back to where the trail heads up.

Now you’re heading back towards the River Mountains paved trail, but now you’ll be on it instead of under it. There is a little cairn to show you in case you are going around the reverse direction.

From the path you can look over the ravine that is Owl Canyon towards Lake Mead. Looking to the right you can see the River Mountains path that is popular for walking and riding bikes. We’ll be taking it for a bit.

Keep an eye out on the right for the little rocks that line the path to the loop. This first photo is walking just beyond it so you can see how it is the straight path to the right of the tiny canyon.

The path continues and eventually the walls start to rise again a bit.

This is a much lower slot canyon, but is still a cool place to hike.

There is one place that looks like a drop off, but the ledges below aren’t slick, so it’s easy to climb down (or up if going the reverse direction).

The little slot canyon continues a bit longer.

Pretty soon the walls fall away again and you walk along in the desert. There was a cluster of these green plants with a few calla lilly-type flowers in one section.

The path becomes lined again. One part of the path was super dry with cracks.

There are some cool red rock formations you pass.

At the end you can see the trailhead at the top of the hill. Remember that there are two paths here, so look for the picnic tables at the top of the butte and head that direction.

Loop Stats:

Distance – 3.6 mile loop
Approximate hiking time – 1 to 3 hours
Elevation gain – 318 feet
Difficulty – Moderate
Trail – well maintained trail of dirt and rocks
Bathrooms – Yes
Seasons to hike – Year round
Permits needed – $25/vehicle for a 7-day pass or National Parks Pass
Pets allowed – Yes

Shorter There and Back Stats:

Distance – 2.0 miles there and back
Approximate hiking time – 45-90 minutes
Elevation gain – 85 feet
Difficulty – Easy
Trail – well maintained trail of dirt and rocks
Bathrooms – Yes
Seasons to hike – Year round
Permits needed – $25/vehicle for a 7-day pass or National Parks Pass
Pets allowed – Yes!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d7683.382862062655!2d-114.85472645572172!3d36.107159759837344!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x80c92990f4ee7949%3A0x8e37fcdb6fecc246!2sOwl%20Canyon%20Trailhead!5e1!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1634250935361!5m2!1sen!2sus

Other hikes in Las Vegas are in Red Rock Canyon. Another awesome spot in Nevada is Cathedral Gorge State Park.


We have so much beauty in Utah to explore! I love hiking and photography and can help you find your next favorite hike! All photos were taken by me!

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