False Kiva Trail

MODERATE 11 reviews
#12 of 47 trails in

False Kiva Trail is a 1.9 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Moab, Utah that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

1.9 miles 524 feet Out & Back

kid friendly



nature trips

trail running



wild flowers


Island In The Sky District, Canyonlands National Park, Utah, United States False Kiva is a Class II archeological site located in an alcove in Canyonlands National Park. It's also known from the famous photograph by Wally Pacholka, showing the milky way in all it's glory. When you get there you'll be amazed by the silence of the alcove and the view ahead. You'll have a view on the Canyons and the Candlestick tower in the distance. The best time of day to photograph is late afternoon, certainly take a good hour to wait for the good light to drop.

14 days ago

19 days ago

Phenomenal hike. I only wish they would go ahead and add a real trail as I think there would be less of an impact on the fragile soil from people losing track of the cairns, which are sometimes placed, incorrectly. Even though I had hiked this before, it still took me a moment to recognize the final trail up to the alcove. This is all exposed sun, so plan accordingly.

20 days ago

The trail head is a little confusing the 1 st time. Start at the far end of the wood markers. The Vista is amazing!

20 days ago

Hiked Oct 22nd, birthday camping trip. My favorite trail we hiked in Canyonlands NP, despite not being an official trail. It is still well followed, but if I remember correctly the hike is unlisted as a means to better protect the class 2 archaeological site at the end. Trail head is unmarked, starts near a guard rail, just south from the Alcove Springs parking lot. From here you just hunt for the next cairn as you walk down into the wash. This leads you down into the side of the canyon with a moderate elevation decent for the length of the trail. Some people had difficulty route finding once they got to the lower section of the canyon trail. Just remember, look for cairns, there will be a set near the bottom of the canyon section that are prompting you to climb up a small step up, and hug the canyon wall until it reaches the actual false kiva. The views at the kiva are mindblowing, we stopped and relaxed here for 2 hours mostly by ourselves. Please be courteous of your fellow hikers! While we were here a group of young 20-somethings showed up and were loud coming down the trail, were throwing rocks around towards the kiva, and were throwing rocks out over the canyon. This is the most outrageous part, because they were throwing rocks over the trail section they had literally just walked up. Just because their level of noise broadcasted their presence to the entire park, doesn't mean a quiet hiker isn't close behind them and could get beaned in the head by some moron who wanted to fling rocks at nature.

4 months ago

Really cool trail! Short, rocky, windy and difficult to navigate in a few spots, but very manageable. There is no signage for the trail, but there is a small cairn marking the trailhead. Nearest parking area is the Alcove Springs trailhead, then False Kiva is south of that and on the opposite side of the road. View at the top is pretty spectacular.. happy hiking!

5 months ago

By far my favorite trail in Canyonlands NP (At least of the ones I have done) Although not considered a real trail, (not on any park maps) at least not in 2015 it wasn't. trail requires some rock scrambling, & walking next to steep drops, do not attempt if you can't do these things, you might not see anyone else to help you out, you probably will be alone! You also will be walking over slick rock & sand. Bring water, none available there

6 months ago

2 years ago

Amazing, did a overnight backpacking trip, get a permit thru the canyonlands website its $30 for 14 days i made the mistake of booking for a night that was a flash flood day so had to reschedule to another day and did not know i could spend more than one night. breathtaking beauty the view was amazing. there was a kiva as you drop down into the canyon in great shape, food storage i believe. make sure you read all the deets for this hike take extra water since there is no water to filter and it gets hot they already had to rescue one person near this hike from the heat and disorientation and it was only may.

2 years ago

Two comments -

First - I have no idea what "two man-made bushes" means. We started following a drainage that had lots of footoprints instead of the trail that was just 40 feet farther down the road.

Second. This was not an easy hike. Once we got on the trail, it was easy to follow. The difficult part was climbing down a small gully, with one brief exposed section. We were prepaired for this and it was a non-issue. Once we got to the rim, things got confusing. There were many, many cairns, but they lead straight down, never up. I stoped my group (non-hikers) and went down at least 500 to 800 feet and didn't find the kiva. Because of the vertical terrain, it was hard to tell if I was on the correct route or not. I kept feeling I was on the some trail that lead to the bottom rather than a trail that lead to the Kiva. The route I followed was well marked with cairns every ten feet or so. If I was on the correct route and just didn't go far enough, I would say the route is far from easy, it is difficult and requring good athletic ability. The climb back up was of course not easy. The non-hikers would find it outright brutal.

In summary - This is NOT an easy route, to find and follow.

3 years ago

This app (guide) for False Kiva was extremely helpful kept me from false trails and wasting energy. I would rate it more difficult than Easy (snow ice in spots and the final climb to the alcove was challenging)The cairns place in stragetic places were very helpful also

4 years ago

I just wanted to say 'thank you' for your work. This link was my main resource when I first visited False Kiva back in Jul '12. I know a lot of people try to keep this spot a secret, but many people find it nonetheless. But in the spirit of keeping it secret, I only share it with those whom I know have the best intentions of visiting the site and not ruining it. Again, thank you!