False Kiva Trail
The False Kiva Trail is an unmaintained hike to a class II archeological site in the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park. The False Kiva is an authentic site, but its origins are unknown (hence “False”), please be respectful of this area when you visit. Don’t forget the camera—the vistas along the trail and from the site itself are absolutely breathtaking.
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Route Description for False Kiva Trail
The False Kiva Trail is a moderately challenging hike to an incredible archeological site in Canyonlands National Park. This hike is not maintained, so the trail is rugged and can be difficult to navigate; route finding skills and an adventurous spirit are necessary on this hike. There are sections of this trail that are roped off, one of which is an ancient burial site. Please be respectful of the boundaries and of this ancient, sacred space.
The False Kiva Archaeological site is truly something to behold. This incredible structure of unknown origins is a symbol of the rich history of the American Southwest. Beyond that, the vistas surrounding this trail are absolutely incredible. Don’t forget the camera, this hike is truly something to behold.
From the trailhead, follow the cairns to the right that mark the False Kiva Trail heading west. Approximately 1.0 km in, you will reach the edge of the canyon, descend the canyon for the last quarter mile to the alcove containing the False Kiva.
Take in the stunning views and feel the weight of history around you before turning around and retracing your steps back to the trailhead.
The False Kiva is a man-made stone circle in an alcove overlooking the Utah desert. The exact origins of this Kiva are unknown (hence “False”) but it was likely built by the Ancestral Pueblo People who are indigenous to the area. The roped-off sites around the Kiva are the study plots of archaeologists who continue to research the area. The False Kiva site was popularized by Photographer Tom Till, who published an incredible photograph from the site in the 1980s.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is False Kiva closed?
Access to the False Kiva itself was closed in 2018 due to vandalism but the bulk of the trail remains open, please respect the closure.
Insider Hints for False Kiva Trail
- This hike is not advertised by the National Park Service and this trail is unmaintained, look for Cairns built by fellow hikers that mark the way
- The views along this trail are incredible, don’t forget the camera
- This is a hot, desert hike, bring lots of water and a salty snack to avoid dehydration
Getting to the False Kiva Trail Trailhead
From the Island in the Sky Visitor Center, head down Grand View Road for 10.3 km then take a right onto Upheaval Dome Road. Follow Upheaval Dome Road for 5.6 km to the False Kiva Trailhead on the west side of the road.
False Kiva Trail Elevation Graph
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False Kiva Trail Reviews
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