Belly of the Dragon - Atlas Obscura

Belly of the Dragon

Orderville, Utah

Nature has shaped this drainage tunnel into the digestive tract of a mighty beast. 


Hidden beneath the red rock expanse of Utah lies an extraordinary geological wonder known as the Belly of the Dragon. A tunnel of 100 yards or so, the walls have a palpable undulating texture, reminiscent of the intricate contours of a creature’s digestive tract. However, this is not a naturally occurring cave system.The Belly of the Dragon was originally dug as a drainage tunnel under Highway 89 to allow rainwater to pass underneath the road rather than wash over it. Over the years, periodic flooding has shaped the tunnel, creating the rippling effect you see today.

One will also notice the incredible amount of graffiti in the cave. From the floor nearly to the ceiling, the soft sandstone has made it easy to carve initials, symbols, and every kind of marking in the walls. It is important to keep in mind that graffiti is prohibited, and one may receive a fine for adding their name to the walls and spoiling the experience further.

It is important to keep in mind that, as a drainage tunnel, the Belly of the Dragon is specifically designed to collect and divert rainwater. Thus, it is very susceptible to flash flooding. Be sure to check the weather before visiting, and keep away in rainy conditions.

Know Before You Go

Parking at and visiting the cave is free year-round. Keep in mind that there are no restrooms or water sources available on-site. There is a bit of scrambling required to get into the wash and then up into the cave, so watch your step. The tunnel is short enough that it doesn't get completely dark in the daytime, but it is still a good idea to have a flashlight just in case.

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January 16, 2024

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