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False Kiva

One of Canyonlands' hidden gems with spectacular views


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Access road



You won’t find this trail is the hike listings in the info they give you at the Park entrance station, yet it has a cult following. The trail to False Kiva, or Hidden Kiva as it’s sometimes known, wends its way over the mesa before it dives off the rim ending spectacularly at a huge alcove from where you’ll have an iconic view of Canyonlands. If you have time before or after the hike, pop into the Tom Till Gallery on Main Street, Moab, where you can see a beautiful photo of the kiva and the view beyond.


To access the trailhead in Canyonlands National Park, take the turn off to Upheaval Dome and park in the Alcove Spring trailhead pullout. Walk back around 200 yards to the start of the bend in the road where a pile of logs line the roadside, and where you’ll see a well-worn trail. On my last visit it still wasn’t signed. The trail, around 2.5 miles (roundtrip) long, is generally well cairned but a few side trails may be distracting. Generally head down and to your right and keep to the most used path. Some of the trail is very rocky but there’s no serious exposure here. Only when you’re near the very end of the trail will the alcove reveal itself. From the trail a short slog up the scree slope will take you into the alcove.


Inside, apart from the 'kiva' (origins unknown), are some other poor, broken down structures and a few pictographs. However, it’s not these that star in this hike, it’s that view.


Note: many people think this is an easier hike than it is. In 2012 a photographer was severely dehydrated on the rocky slope on the return leg, resulting in me giving him all my spare water and carrying his heavy equipment back to the visitor center to get help. It took four park rangers to extract him.

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