We found a really unique hike just east of Kanab that is worth a try. The Catstair Canyon Car Stacks hike is just a mile roundtrip, but can be extended depending how far you choose to go in the canyon. The trail is interesting, and sometimes challenging. We enjoyed both the slot canyon, and the cars that are stacked in the bottom of the ravine.
Where to find Catstair Canyon
Finding the trailhead parking is a little bit tricky. We found the best way to locate it to use Google Maps. We pinned the small pullout in the map below. If you just type in Catstair Canyon, it takes you to the east parking lot, and that is at the bottom of the canyon very far from the car stacks. This correct pullout is about 38.5 miles east of the Kanab Visitor Center, and 34.5 miles from Page, AZ. If you are coming from Kanab, you will be in a canyon just after a large curve when the pullout appears. There is room for about 2-3 cars and a small dirt road begins in the pullout. Blink and you’ll miss it. Once you get out of your vehicle, look for a sign that says Witness Post and talks about survey markers. The sign is the trailhead marker, so you’ll know you are in the right place.
Hike to the Stacked Cars
The trail follows the bottom of the wash away from the dirt road along the rock wall. After only a hundred yards or so, the trail takes a hairpin turn to the left. Don’t climb out of the wash to the right, but turn up Catstair Canyon by doubling back the way you came.
The canyon walls soon narrow down and rise to about 50 feet as you parallel the road. You can hear the traffic from the highway above you, and you can see the guardrail, which is where the car stacks come in. Watch for a drainage pipe. Once you see the pipe sticking out, you are almost to the cars.
It’s pretty apparent that there has been a lot of erosion undercutting the highway. Some engineer’s solution was to stack up old cars, fill them with rocks and gravel, lash them together with large cables, and stop the sand from trickling out from under the highway. The cars are stacked about ten high, and many of the makes and models are recognizable from the 1950’s up through the 1970’s. Many people make this the destination of the hike, because it is easy and under a mile roundtrip.
Our boys loved looking at the different types of cars, and they also loved exploring this little slot canyon.
Carstair Slot Canyon
Catstair Canyon continues farther down, paralleling the highway as it goes. We went on for a short distance, but there are a few obstacles that can be quite tricky. The canyon is quite narrow and beautiful, but the rocks are slick, and there are two drops that are a bit difficult to climb back up. We stopped at the second one since it had about an 8 foot drop. We are not really sure whether the trail curves back to the road, though we suspect that it does as you’re never very far from the highway. This trail leads to the east parking lot, which requires a 4-wheel drive vehicle.
Of the trails in this area, we found the Catstair Canyon Car Stacks to be short, unique, and shady, which was a real win for our family. Check out our Things to do in Kanab post for other great hikes in the Kanab area.