The Belly of the Dragon is a fun family-friendly walk/hike just 20 miles east of Zion National Park. The belly is actually a tunnel that was originally a water culvert under Highway 89, however, over time the drainage has carved the sandstone walls. The tunnel is a perfect place for exploring.
- 1/2 mile roundtrip if you want to explore the tunnel.
- 1.8 miles roundtrip if you want to explore the cave and follow the trail through the gulch.
- 4 miles roundtrip to an entrance to a slot canyon.
Just hiking through the canyon is easy. The only tricky part is a 5-foot drop into the cave at the beginning, however, you can sit on your bottom and slide in. The hike through the gulch is also easy, but if you want to continue on to the slot canyon you have to navigate up a steep slope at the end of the gulch. When we visited it there was snow on the ground and it was icy so we stopped at the end of the gulch.
We were driving to Zion from Kanab. The turn-off is located 16 miles north of Kanab about 1/2 miles south of Carmel Junction on Highway 89. If you make it to the restaurant in Carmel Junction you have gone too far. The turn-off is for a dirt road on the west side of Highway 89. Drive 1/4 mile down the dirt road and the parking area is on the left. Straight ahead is the entrance to the Belly of the Dragon.
This trail is dog friendly. Our dog had no problem getting down the drop-off into the cave, but a smaller dog might need a little assistance. Jinx had a blast running back and forth in the snow when we walked through the gulch.
From the parking lot, you can see the entrance to the tunnel. The hardest part is the 5-foot drop-in, but even little kids will be able to navigate it with a little help. The bottom of the tunnel is covered in sand and rocks. Parts of the bottom become narrow and uneven so watch your step. In the winter there might be ice inside. The tunnel is short so take your time and explore. The middle of the tunnel can get very dark a flashlight will come in handy. We didn’t have a flashlight so we used our iPhones. It can also be very cold inside depending on the time of year, so bring a jacket. Most importantly this tunnel was built to divert water so don’t enter if there is any chance of rain.
After exiting the tunnel you can continue walking through the gulch until you get to a rock wall. The gulch is fun for children and dogs to run through. When we got to the rock wall we had to turn around because of the ice and snow. After exploring we headed for Zion to do some more hiking.