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The Belly of the Dragon is a short walk in Southern Utah that’s great for the whole family. We stopped to check it out on our way to Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park because I kept seeing pictures of it on Pinterest. But was it worth visiting?
Well, the Belly of the Dragon is actually a manmade tunnel. It was created to divert water under highway 89.
I was a little disappointed when I first learned that the tunnel was manmade, but we still enjoyed the walk and I was surprised by how long the tunnel was!
I would not travel just to see this tunnel, but it does make a great quick stop along a bigger trip if you’re driving on Hyw 89. We’ll talk more about the pros and cons of this walk below.
Where is The Belly of the Dragon?
The Belly of the Dragon tunnel is located in Southern Utah about 17 miles north of Kanab, Utah.
The parking area is right off Hwy 89, making this the perfect quick stop on a road trip to or from some of the surrounding national parks.
Directions: parking area
You’ll drive on a well-maintained dirt road for about 1/4 of a mile until you reach the parking area. The road and parking are on the West side of Hwy 89.
There are no bathrooms or water at the trailhead.
Belly of the Dragon Tips and Trail Details
- Length: about 0.5 miles round trip through the tunnel and back
- Cost: There are no fees to enter the Belly of the Dragon
- Difficulty: I would rate this as an easy family-friendly walk. There is no elevation gain, however, there is a roughly 5 ft (about 1.5 meter) drop at the entrance to the tunnel. This is the most challenging part of the walk and it might be difficult for small children to climb down on their own.
- Note: It’s also worth noting that the floor of the tunnel is rocky and uneven. When you reach the middle, it can be hard to see, so having a headlamp (or at least the flashlight on your cell phone) is a good idea so you don’t trip.
- Best Time of Year: You can walk through the tunnel year-round. In the winter, you may encounter snow and ice which can make things more challenging. I went in the Spring.
- Trail Details: From the parking area, you follow a short dirt path to the entrance of the tunnel where you encounter the 5-foot drop. Kids will probably need some help on this part. Then, you walk through the tunnel where the surface is rocky and uneven. It was such a cool tunnel – way longer and bigger than I was expecting!
When you reach the other end of the tunnel, you can turn around or keep walking through the wash until you reach a dead end. Then, simply turn around and head back out the way you came.
Hazards and Challenges:
As I mentioned above, this is a drainage tunnel to divert water under the highway. Do not enter the tunnel under rainy conditions or if there’s a flash flood warning in the surrounding area.
The rocky landscape doesn’t absorb water very well, so even if it doesn’t look like it’s raining much, you never know how much water is coming down the canyons from surrounding areas.
Belly of the Dragon Photography Tips:
This is a popular area to snap some really fun photos within the tunnel.
Below are some tips for photographing The Belly of the Dragon:
- Not much light makes it into the tunnel, so you’ll need a high ISO and maybe even a tripod to avoid blurry photos.
- On an iPhone, you can tap and hold for 1-2 seconds and then drag your finger up and down to make the photo darker or lighter.
- Time of day doesn’t matter too much here because you’re only getting light from the ends of the tunnel.
Pros and cons of the Belly of the Dragon:
- The tunnel is easy to access and makes for a quick stop along Hyw 89.
- Good for the entire family.
- Depending on the time you visit, expect to see lots of other people.
- Unfortunately, there was a lot of graffiti and carvings on the rock which kind of ruined it for me.
- It’s short. I would not consider this a hike, but more of a walk. It takes about 2 minutes to walk through the tunnel.
Other things to do nearby:
There’s a lot to see and do in the surrounding Kanab area.
The Belly of the Dragon is a great stop along a larger trip, but I wouldn’t travel just to see it.
It’s a great pit stop, but not an end destination. I wouldn’t want you to travel hours just to see this tunnel and then be disappointed!
Below are some other places and activities to visit in the area:
- Moqui Cave Museum (paid)
- Moqui Caverns (free 1.5-mile round-trip hike)
- Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park (such a fun place to camp, ride ATV’s, and sled down the sand)
- Zion National Park (Utah’s most popular national park!)
- Bryce Canyon National Park (a spectacular hoodoo amphitheater)
Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below!
Have you been to the Belly of the Dragon? What did you think?