ST. GEORGE — Those wanting to visit the popular Kanarra Falls in the future will soon need to obtain a permit, like many of the other popular backcountry hikes in Southern Utah.
Permits will hopefully cut down on the large number of hikers to Kanarra Falls, Kanarraville Town Clerk David Ence said. The town of Kanarraville, in conjunction with Iron County, will be administering the new permit system by as early as this spring, Ence said.
“As it is right now, the high usage season is basically out of control and the quality of the hike suffers,” Ence said. “We have complaints from hikers all through the season to fix it.”
The popularity of Kanarra Falls has grown significantly in recent years due to social media and pictures of the area being posted online. The hike follows Kanarra Creek from Kanarraville into a classic slot canyon with high red-rock walls, which leads to two iconic waterfalls with makeshift ladders on the sides to climb.
“This land leads to an incredible slot canyon that is growing in popularity and a wilderness study area that is home to two major canyons, with ridges nearly 8,000 feet up,” said Keith Rigtrup, acting Cedar City field manager for the Bureau of Land Management.
Over 45,000 people visited Kanarra Falls last year, Ence said.
“The main reason of implementing a permit system for Kanarra Falls hike is to better manage the number of hikers through a very small space which is subject to erosion and contamination,” Ence said.
The town of Kanarraville currently charges $10 for every car parked at the Kanarra Falls hike trailhead, which is maintained by the city. When the permit system is implemented this spring, Ence said there will be no limit to how many people may purchase permits. They will cost $5 per hiker and be available online.
However, if the permit system doesn’t significantly cut down on the number of visitors to Kanarra Falls, Ence said there may be additional limits put in place. Other popular backcountry hikes like The Subway in Zion National Park already have limits on how many people can visit it at any given time.
“This first year is a test and we don’t know if permitting will cut the numbers or not,” Ence said. “If the permitting system doesn’t manage numbers better, we will have to do a per-day cap.”
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