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Belly of the Dragon

Updated: May 8, 2020

Have you ever wondered what it feels like to walk through the esophagus of a whale? If you have, well then have I got the place for you! You and Jonah will have a lot to discuss in the hereafter once you've taken a stroll through this quirky little nook in southern Utah.

Location: On Barracks road, just south of Orderville, Utah

Difficulty: Easy. Teeny, tiny, itty-bitty amount of scrambling for like, 1 second. More like steps than scrambling

Duration: Short. All you need is 15 minutes to thoroughly explore; 20 if you're as crazy about pictures as I am

When to Go: Open yearlong, go whenever!

Entrance Fee: Free as a bird

Good to Know: Out and back, no restrooms or water. Dogs allowed! Please clean up after them. And pretty please no writing or carving on the walls

If you've ever traveled on Highway 89 in Southern Utah, you've most likely driven right over Belly of the Dragon and never even known it. It is located on Barracks road, which is an unmarked, well maintained dirt road half a mile south of the Mt. Carmel Junction. If you are headed south, this road will be on your right, headed north and it will be to the left.

The turn off for Barracks road, facing the south

Once you have turned onto Barracks road, look to the left and start looking for a hole; it will be about a quarter of a mile down the way.

There is plenty of room for parking to the left of the entrance. Don't park to the right. Do. not. do. it! The sand is deceptively deep, and you will get stuck and feel stupid. I'm not speaking from first hand experience or anything.

That was a lie, I am very much speaking from first hand experience.

See, plenty of space to park. No need to park on the right side.

You'll follow a well worn path to the entrance. To get inside you will have to climb down some rocks and cement. It's maybe about a 3 foot and change drop, nothing strenuous. It is very easy to climb down into and back up out of, making this a great adventure to take the littles on.

This tunnel serves as a wash for canyons that are located to the east; water flows through and eventually drains into the east fork of the Virgin River. Evidence of these water flows are all through the tunnel, and you do not want to visit while this occurs for obvious reasons. Be sure to check the weather for any storms in the area before exploring.

You know those old cartoons where they are in a tunnel when they see a light and it turns out to be an oncoming train?

Please observe Leave No Trace principles while visiting, this includes not carving or writing on the walls. I know, it's tempting... for some of you... and I know others have done it, so why can't you? But no one wants to take a picture with your name scribbled behind them, so maybe just don't do it, capiche?

My favorite part about this trail is that Winky can join me. She loves exploring as much as I do, so I never miss an opportunity to bring her with me! Another great thing about this hike is it's location. It's not far from the east entrance to Zion National Park, and it is just down the road from the Kanab Sand Caves, making Belly of the Dragon a quick and easy detour to add to your other adventures in the area!

UPDATE: I have recently been informed that following the wash will take you to a slot canyon! Say, whaaa??? Who doesn't love them a good slot canyon? I've not had a chance to explore this new information yet, so I don't have any details or pictures, but apparently it's a thing. I will update as soon as I see it for myself!

{as always: practice LEAVE NO TRACE. stay hydrated. tell someone where you are going. wear appropriate clothing. be mindful of the weather. be nice to fellow hikers. have fun, make good choices, & hike smart}

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