top of page
  • Writer's pictureGreg Harlow Media

Visiting: The Mysterious False Kiva, Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Updated: Feb 21, 2018

False Kiva is not on the maps of Canyonlands National Park in order to keep vandalism at a minimum. A strange and strategic habitat of ancient Pueblo Native Americans.

There is much debate over what False Kiva is.  This mysterious circular structure of rocks could be a ceremonial or religious altar,  or just a bored and creative ancestor. Regardless of it's origin, it is a peaceful and solitary location where you can't help but feel grounded. Its bad voodoo, juju, mojo, karma, etc. to go inside or touch or the Kiva. So beware...

A Kiva is defined as "a room used by Puebloans for religious rituals and political meetings, many of them associated with the kachina belief system. Among the modern Hopi and most other Pueblo peoples, kivas are square-walled and underground, and are used for spiritual ceremonies.


I have to say I was strangely excited on the way to this location, with a little hop in my step. This hike is only available through local knowledge (or tips from the internet),  and it is a completely unmarked path,  leading to a moderate 1.9 mile hike.  Maybe it's just that feeling of dangerous excitement, like, "I'm 14 and I'm gonna drink this wine cooler in my closet..." Or something along those lines.

No technical equipment is necessary, but having a GPS unit will definitely come in handy if you are directionally challenged, not an eagle scout, or just plain used to Siri. Sorry, no cell service here.

It is a very special place,  you will likely have it to yourself.  I hung out here alone for over an hour.  The mind wanders as you can see where the sleeping quarters were dug out,  and imagine what life must have been like without toilet paper.

False Kiva is strategically tucked at a the highest vantage point underneath a huge archway or (alcove), completely guarded on all sides from danger and weather. The archway is probably close to a hundred feet high, and a football field long.

 I used a fisheye lens to grab a picture of the massive alcove. The kiva is tucked under the left side.

If you are planning to visit, here is a basic map of the trail, courtesy of You will park at the pullout or parking lot for Upheaval Dome, then back track east on the road for about half a mile. You will see a small sandy path appear on the south side of the road. Marked green is the parking location. Be prepared for a steep descent, about 3/4 of the way out. Fairly easy to find once you see the alcove appear, a few switchbacks, and you are there.

Hiking community comments and reviews of False Kiva at:

This story is summarized and also published at:

Greg Harlow is a traveling photographer and videographer residing in Salt Lake City, Utah. Web:


P: (605) 430-9769

#travel #travelblog #outdoors #hikinggear #besthiking2018 #canyonlands #islandinthesky #falsekiva #arch #utah #southernutah #moab #adventure #gregharlowmedia #news

bottom of page