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Belly of the Dragon: A Hiking Guide Written by Locals

Welcome to one of Southern Utah's hidden treasures, the Belly of the Dragon! As locals who love sharing our slice of paradise, we've put together this friendly guide for your visit.

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Woman hiking through the Belly of the Dragon Tunnel in Southern Utah

This unique, family-friendly trail is not your typical hike; it's an old man-made drainage tunnel under Hwy 89, about 20 miles from the East Entrance to Zion National Park. The tunnel's water-carved passageway, reminiscent of a ribcage, is truly one-of-a-kind. Conveniently located near Mount Carmel Junction, its trailhead is easily accessible by car, a welcome departure from the lengthy dirt road drives often associated with other regional hikes.

Woman admiring the tunnel walls inside the Belly of the Dragon in Southern Utah

Where is the Belly of the Dragon?

Situated in the heart of Southern Utah, Belly of the Dragon sits a 1/2 mile outside Mount Carmel Junction and is a quick 17-mile, 20-minute car ride from Kanab. You will easily find the trailhead and its parking lot just off the main road down a well-maintained dirt path. Belly of the Dragon is also easily reachable for those lodging in Orderville, and Glendale. Expect a quick 8-minute drive from Orderville or a 13-minute drive from Glendale.

Trail Highlights and What to Expect

Views looking out from the mouth of the Belly of the Dragon hike and tunnel near Zion National Park

Difficulty: Easy

Length: 1.8 miles round trip

Type: Out & back

Hiking Time: 15 minutes - 1 hour

Cost: Free

This easy hike introduces a straightforward journey, with the only challenge being a 4-5 foot drop into the tunnel's entrance. Once inside, the path twists through the belly's intriguing red rock formations. Watch your footing, and don't forget a flashlight for the darker stretches. The tunnel is short but once you emerge on the other side, you're greeted by a sandy creek and rock cliffs stemming into a variety of routes for exploration or a great place to take a drink/snack break.

Other Quick Tips About the Trail

Here are a few more quick tips for a memorable trip inside the Belly of the Dragon.

  1. Preserve the Beauty: Resist carving into the sandstone walls, always Follow Leave No Trace principles, and preserve this wonderful sight for future visitors. 

  2. Clean Up After Pets: Bring your furry friend, but clean up after them, and leash at your discretion.

  3. Best Time of Day: Explore in the early-mid afternoon for the best lighting inside the tunnel.

  4. Pack Smart: Essentials like water, snacks, and comfy shoes are a must.

  5. Trail Etiquette: Respect fellow hikers and wildlife by keeping noise levels moderate.

  6. Don't forget your camera: the Belly of the Dragon offers incredible photo opportunities.

A man stainding at the mouth of the Belly of the Dragon tunnel in Southern Utah

Best Time of Year to Visit Belly of the Dragon

Be selective as you navigate the seasonal nuances of the Belly of the Dragon. The trail is free and open to visitors year-round, but the best and safest times to visit are between March and October.

Winter: In the winter months, expect to find a snowy and occasionally icy trail. The ground is often muddier than normal, and it is recommended that only hikers with good stability explore it.

Spring: Spring is a beautiful time to visit the Belly of the Dragon. Plan your visit according to the weather, though, as the creek may run high from rainwater, and the tunnel can have slippery rocks and rushing water draining from the cliffs above.

Summer: The safest month to visit the man-made cave. Wear good walking shoes and bring a water bottle to stay hydrated in the heat.

Fall: Visiting in the fall will bring cooler weather and fewer visitors, a great choice for those looking to avoid crowds

A brown husky dog posing for a picture amongst the red rocks near the Belly of the Dragon hike in Southern Utah

Can You Bring Pets?

Yes, for those who love to share the trails with their four-legged companions, the Belly of the Dragon welcomes you! Dogs are welcome, and leashing is at your discretion. During quieter times, letting your furry friends roam adds an extra layer of enjoyment to the adventure.

Where to Stay Near the Belly of the Dragon

As locals who own and operate East Zion Resort, we invite you to extend your stay beyond the hiking trails. Explore our unique lodging offerings including yurts, glamping tents, treetop cabins, mirror houses, and more. Our accommodations are truly one-of-a-kind. 

To ensure you discover your ideal haven after a day of exploration, you might also consider a glamping experience at Cave Lakes in Kanab. For large groups, consider renting a house through Zion Stays vacation rentals.

Can you camp at the Belly of the Dragon?

Wondering about camping options near the Belly of the Dragon? While camping isn't permitted in the tunnel or along the mapped trail, you can opt to camp at Twin Hollows Canyon Campground, conveniently situated near the trailhead. This campground provides a choice between sandy riverbank spots and rocky canyon-side campsites. Keep in mind, that you might encounter sandy tent floors and some light road noise. 

View of the mountain range outside Mt. Carmel Motel & RV Park near the Belly of the Dragon tunnel.

For those with RVs, explore the RV-friendly options at Mount Carmel Motel & RV Park, just a short distance away. This charming family-run establishment has been welcoming guests for over 40 years, offering a quaint and welcoming atmosphere for your stay. 

What Else To Do Near the Belly of the Dragon?

Immerse yourself in the broader experience of the region and extend your stay to explore many other unforgettable nearby attractions. Whether you seek cultural enrichment or adrenaline-pumping adventures, Consider making time to explore the following:

Woman snapping a photo from the top of the Angels Landing hike in Zion.

Don't just pass through, immerse yourself in the captivating adventures surrounding the Belly of the Dragon.

Book Your Visit to the Belly of the Dragon

As you embark on your journey through the Belly of the Dragon, we hope this guide has fueled your excitement for its unique wonders as well as those nearby. At East Zion Resort, we are not just locals; we are passionate storytellers of our breathtaking region. If you crave more insider tips, desire personalized recommendations, or are eager to explore the vast array of activities beyond the Belly of the Dragon, don't hesitate to reach out. Whether you're interested in booking guided adventures or seeking additional insights into the hidden gems of Southern Utah, our doors—and hearts—are wide open. 

Contact us, and let East Zion Resort be your gateway to an unforgettable experience at Belly of the Dragon.


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