Hike The Nautilus: Hidden Gem Outside Kanab, UT
The Nautilus is a short hike to a unique hidden gem in the desert outside Kanab, Ut. This swirly rock formation has been named "The Nautilus" because when you hike down into the white rock formation, it spirals around, giving you the feeling you are exploring a large mollusk seashell. Just sit on your bum and slide down. My kiddos thought this was the coolest thing ever!
I thought the light inside the mollusk-like formation was absolutely stunning, and the ripples of yellow stripes running through the white rock were so cool.
Because this is a short hike located right off highway 89 between Kanab and Lake Powell, it is the perfect stop on any Southern Utah road trip.
DIRECTIONS TO GET TO THE NAUTILUS TRAILHEAD
The Nautilus is located 45 minutes east of Kanab or 35 minutes west of Page, AZ & Lake Powell.
You will take the White House Road turn along highway 89. It comes up quickly. Have your navigation app going so that you know when to make the turn. Follow White House Road to a wash just before White House Campground. The road is dirt and a little bumpy but nothing that a regular 4-door vehicle can't handle.
At the second wash along the road, you will stop and park at a little pull-out just before the wash. Click Here for the exact location.
The trail to The Nautilus is less than a one-mile round trip. It is on flat sandy ground and easy to navigate.
HIRE A PHOTOGRAPHER IN ZION - CLICK TO LEARN MORE
BEST TIME TO VISIT
This trail is excellent for year-round use. It might be a little hot in the middle of the summer, June-August, but since it is such a short hike, you will be fine. Just bring lots of water and wear sunscreen.
We did this hike the beginning of October in the morning. It was the perfect time to go!
The best light for photography is mid-morning or mid to late afternoon. If you want good photos don't go on a cloudy day, the light will be flat and dull.
This area can get flash flooding during a rain storm, but I don't consider it high risk. Since you aren't hiking along a tight slot canyon, there are plenty of places to get to higher ground in case water does fill up the wash. Just beware that the road will get a little slick and muddy in the rain.
The trail starts at the wash and goes east. If you are looking towards the campground, you will go to your left. You will walk for a short distance and then come to a fence going across the wash. Walk around the fence and keep going.
My kiddos had fun running and climbing up the slick rock along the sides of the wash.
***The White Dome - Hike up and over to the right and the formation is inside.
You will see a large white dome-like mound coming up out of the sand to the right. The Nautilus is inside that white dome. Hike up to the right and then down into The Nautilus. This is the part where you get to slide down on your bum....haha! It's about a 10-12 foot slide.
Once at the bottom, you can check out how the light plays on the walls. My kiddos turned around and climbed right back up and slid down again. I walked around and explored the light and the shapes of the white and grey sandstone walls. I was in awe of the yellow wavy stipes running along the walls.....so beautiful.
We played and took photos for about 20 minutes and then hiked back the way we came.
Type in The Nautilus on your navigation app and check it while you hike. That way, you will know exactly where the rock formation is, and there is no way you will accidentally pass it.
Please be careful visiting this delicate rock formation. Do not write on or carve into the walls. Do not break or damage the rock. Always practice LEAVE NO TRACE principals. Pack out what you pack in! Help us protect this place for generations to come!
WE LOVE EAST ZION ADVENTURES GUIDE COMANY - CLICK TO LEARN MORE
GOOD TO KNOW
There is no restroom at the immediate trailhead but some at the White House Trailhead and campground, about 0.3 miles down the dirt road. The closest drinking water is available at the Paria Contact Station at the start of White House Road.
There is no fee or permit required for this hike.
LIST OF THINGS TO BRING WITH YOU
HIKING SHOES OR HIKING SANDALS - Hiking shoes or hiking sandals are a great option for this hike but honestly you could do it in flip flops. Click here for my favorite hiking sandals on the planet.....I'm a Teva's girl!
HIKING CLOTHES - Wear comfortable, light and breathable clothes if visiting in the summer. If visiting in the winter, bring a warm coat and wear layers. Chances are it will warm up mid-day.
SUNSCREEN - Always take sunscreen with your wherever you go in the desert!
HAT & SUNGLASSES - The sun is intense. Having a hat and sunglasses is a must.
SNACKS, AND LOTS OF WATER - Always hike with snacks and plenty of water
HIKING DAY PACK - You will want a small backpack to carry snacks, water, camera & phone.
BEST PLACES STAY AND HIKE IN AND AROUND KANAB
I recommend staying a few days in Kanab to explore the whole area around The Nautilus. There is so much to see and do.
Kanab is located 35 minutes from Zion National park, 1 hour 30 minutes from Bryce Canyon, and 1 hour 45 minutes from the north entrance of the Grand Canyon.
WHERE TO STAY IN KANAB - BASECAMP 37
We actually found The Nautilus while we were staying at Basecamp 37. The owner Amy told us to go check it out!
Basecamp37 is a spacious, secluded but totally connected hideaway with, safari-style tents, luxury beds and linens, hot showers, even hotter grills, and friendly folks. There is a shared house on the property plus a common area for all the guests. The 5 tents on the property face nothing but open land and huge vistas.
It is located 8 miles east of Kanab in the Chocolate Cliffs of the Grand Staircase under the magnificent Southern Utah sky.
We loved our glamping experience at Basecamp 37 and highly recommend it!
15 HIKES TO CHECK OUT + THINGS TO DO CLOSE TO KANAB & THE NAUTILUS
2 - Hike Buckskin Gulch
4 - Hike Whitehouse Trail
5 - Hike Coyote Buttes North
6 - Hike The Wave
10 - Visit Horseshoe Bend
11 - Swim at Lake Powell
12 - Hike Mansard Trail
13 - Hike Water Canyon
14 - Go Canyoneering
As you can see, The Nautilus is just one of the many things to check out when visiting Southern Utah. This short hike to a unique hidden gem is a must on any road trip through the Southern Utah desert.