The Elkheart Cliffs, a few miles east of Zion National Park, harbor several narrow canyons - Sand Wash/Red Cave is the largest but two other good short slots are found nearby, both easily accessed from US 89. Red Hollow, east of Orderville, has narrow, vertical-walled passages through deep red rocks, most of which is hikeable from the lower end though an unclimbable dryfall means that the full length can only be explored from above, using ropes. Three miles north near Glendale, Spring Hollow contains a short narrows section, usually with a shallow stream flowing through, that ends in an enclosed chamber beneath a pretty waterfall.
Location: Red Hollow is the main drainage emerging from the Elkheart Cliffs due east of Orderville, a small town on US 89 five miles north of the junction with UT 9 from Zion. A half mile dirt track leads towards the cliffs and the mouth of the canyon, starting at 100 E St in town; south one block then left (along Red Hollow Drive), a road that soon becomes unpaved then a bit rough and sandy, including one crossing of a streambed, so 4WD may be needed. The track ends by a fence in front of a water tank, from where the wash is a short walk downhill.
The wash from Spring Hollow crosses US 89 one mile south of Glendale, passes a private residence on the far side and joins the Virgin River. Cars can be parked at roadside either right by the creek, or a little way south, next to a gate - from here, the stream is a short walk away along a farm track then across a field containing horses and a few abandoned cars.
Permit: Both canyons are on public land outside Zion National Park, so no permit is needed.
Photographs: 6 views of Red Hollow and Spring Hollow.
Map: TopoQuest topographic maps; Red Hollow, Spring Hollow.
Red Hollow: The stony wash splits after a short distance upstream, at the base of the Elkheart Cliffs. The right branch enters a V-shaped, white-walled ravine that gains height steadily and is not narrow, while the left fork forms a more enclosed red rock gorge that becomes a slot after 1/4 mile. This canyon is deep from the start and soon is just a few feet across and sheer walled, without any overhanging rocks so the passageways are well lit, but not particularly distinctive as the rock is uniform in texture and grey/dark red in color - no delicate curves or decorative strata. The slot curves gently while remaining generally straight and has a few chokestones up of to 6 feet, though nothing too difficult until a higher fall of 25 feet on top of which are several webbing attachments for those descending from above.
Graffiti carved on some parts of the walls and abundant footprints suggest the canyon is often visited. The lower narrows, up to the dryfall, can all be seen in half an hour and while not especially pretty, Red Hollow makes for an enjoyable quarter day hike. Although the canyon is dry much of the year, at some times a fair amount of water might be present, making conditions rather more difficult.
Spring Hollow: The Spring Hollow creek emerges from quite a narrow opening at the side of the low cliffs that line this part of the Virgin River valley, above which is a straight passage through white/light brown rocks. After two bends and 1/4 mile, the creek enters a shady chamber where the water falls 20 feet into a shallow pool, cascading down a wall of horizontal, thin-layered strata; a photogenic scene. Away from the waterfall, the rocks are carved with hundreds of inscriptions, mostly quite recent but some date from the late nineteenth century, such as from several members of the Kent family.
|Red Hollow and Spring Hollow
|Two short narrow canyons cutting into the Glendale Bench, east of Zion NP. Spring Hollow contains a stream, soon reaching a scenic but unclimbable waterfall, while the longer Red Hollow forms deeper passages, again explorable in full only from the top, with ropes
Length: 0.5 miles (Spring Hollow), 0.6 miles (Red Hollow)
Difficulty: Easy, to the obstructions
Rocks: Navajo sandstone
Season: Spring, summer, fall
Trailhead: Spring Hollow - east side of US 89, next to the exit creek, 1 mile south of Glendale; 37.305281,-112.600275. Red Hollow - end of a short track heading east from Orderville; 37.270777,-112.62686