Slot Canyons

Slot Canyon Utah Guide: 10 Best Slot Canyons in Utah

The American Southwest is a treasure trove of natural wonders, and few experiences rival the adventure of traversing the intricate and colourful slot canyons in Utah. These narrow, rock-hewn passageways, adorned with hues of red, yellow, pink, and purple, beckon adventure seekers to crawl, squeeze, and wander through their labyrinthine corridors. In this guide, we present the top 10 slot canyons in Utah that promise unparalleled hiking experiences.

What Is A Slot Canyon?

A slot canyon is a narrow, meandering tunnel carved into sandstone over a period of thousands of years by the erosive forces of water.

These geological marvels frequently resemble keyholes and beckon brave explorers to enter their little spaces. With more than 1,000 of these enthralling natural wonders dispersed over its desert landscapes, Utah has the world’s densest collection of slot canyons. While some slot canyons are approachable for novices and families, others require technical expertise and caution.

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Before setting out on a slot canyon trip, it is essential to check the weather forecast because flash floods can be dangerous in these small areas.

10 Best Slot Canyons In Utah

  1. Red Hollow Slot Canyon
    • Location: Orderville, Utah
    • Difficulty: Easy
    • Highlights: Photogenic red rock colors and a unique chimneying experience.

Red Hollow Slot Canyon, close to Orderville, Utah, offers a quick and simple hike through the heart of the American Southwest. A photographer’s dream, this slot canyon is well-known for its vivid red rock colours and sheer canyon walls. It stands out due to a small opening where hikers can perform the unusual and thrilling chimneying or stemming manoeuvre. Red Hollow is reachable to hikers of all ages and is especially welcoming to families. Despite not being among the longer canyons, this one is a must-see for anybody interested in Utah’s slot canyons because of its stunning aesthetic appeal and relatively simple accessibility.

  1. Buckskin Gulch
    • Location: Near the Utah-Arizona state border
    • Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
    • Highlights: The longest slot canyon in the world, featuring stunning petroglyphs and the opportunity to explore Wire Pass as well.

One of the most famous slot canyons in the world, not just in Utah, is Buckskin Gulch. With a stunning 21-mile length, it can claim the title of world’s largest slot canyon. It is conveniently close to the Utah-Arizona border and may be reached from Zion National Park and Page, Arizona. The canyon, with its fascinating tunnels and complex petroglyphs, is a tribute to nature’s ingenuity. The chance to enter Buckskin Gulch from Wire Pass and see two slot canyons in one excursion is an intriguing part of the exploration of the gulch. It’s no surprise that this location is a hot pick for lovers of slot canyons because the experience is nothing short of spectacular.

  1. Wire Pass Slot Canyon
    • Location: Intersection with Buckskin Gulch
    • Difficulty: Easy
    • Highlights: An easy and exceptionally photogenic slot canyon with a wooden ladder and petroglyphs.

Hikers now have a more convenient way to enjoy Buckskin Gulch’s magnificence thanks to Wire Pass, a stunning side canyon that crosses it. With its intricately patterned small tunnels, this particular slot canyon is well known for its remarkable photographic capabilities. It is notable for having a wooden ladder, which makes for interesting photos. Petroglyphs that can be seen on the canyon walls where Wire Pass and Buckskin Gulch intersect are the icing on the cake. Wire Pass is a great option if you’re looking for a simple but visually appealing slot canyon excursion.

  1. Zion Narrows
    • Location: Zion National Park
    • Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
    • Highlights: A colossal gorge with walls towering a thousand feet, the Narrows offers a unique hike through water with options for hikers of all fitness levels.

Within the breathtaking Zion National Park is The Zion Narrows, a titan among slot canyons. With almost a thousand-foot-high walls and the Virgin River meandering through it, it presents a massive gorge. Walking over water while hiking the Narrows makes for a special and immersive experience. The beauty of this trip is that it is accessible to hikers of all fitness levels because you can decide how far into the gorge you want to go and many sections do not require permits. The Zion Narrows is unquestionably gorgeous, yet there is a lot of crowding due to its popularity. Consider a top-down walk with a permit or check out other slots in this guide to experience its splendour in its entirety away from the crowds.

  1. Red Canyon Slot / Peekaboo Kanab
    • Location: Near Kanab, Utah
    • Difficulty: Easy
    • Highlights: This slot canyon is renowned for its photogenic features, but access can be challenging due to sandy roads. Consider a Jeep or UTV tour.

A captivating slot canyon located close to Kanab in southern Utah is called Peekaboo Red Canyon, which is different from Peekaboo Canyon in Escalante. Zion National Park and Springdale are about a one-hour drive apart. Even though this slot’s breathtaking splendour begs for exploration, getting there can be difficult due to the soft, thick sand on the route. You’ll need a proper 4WD vehicle and possibly even an air-down of your tyres to reach it safely. To navigate the challenging terrain, many tourists choose narrated Jeep or UTV tours. These tours frequently include a stop at the neighbouring Great Chamber, a wonder that resembles a cave. Alternately, from the 2WD parking area, you can walk for around 8 km roundtrip to the slot, but be prepared for the sandy terrain.

  1. Kanarra Creek & Falls
    • Location: 1 hour from Zion National Park
    • Difficulty: Easy
    • Highlights: This slot canyon is distinguished by two waterfalls, and it’s a favorite among hikers for its unique features.

One hour from Zion National Park, Kanarra Creek Slot Canyon offers a distinctive slot canyon experience with not one, but two mesmerising waterfalls hidden behind its sandstone walls. The first waterfall may be accessed via a brand-new metal staircase, while the second waterfall can be seen further into the trek. Despite being a little longer and requiring a little more elevation gain than some of the other canyons in this list, Kanarra Creek’s scenic grandeur and the cool water make it a remarkable excursion. Be advised that a permit system has been put in place for this slot canyon due to its popularity, and that these permits tend to sell out rapidly. As a result, make plans in advance to secure a permit so you can experience this magnificent slot canyon.

  1. Jenny’s Canyon
    • Location: Snow Canyon State Park, near St. George
    • Difficulty: Easy
    • Highlights: Perfect for families, Jenny’s Canyon offers playful rock formations and a short, enjoyable hike.

Within Snow Canyon State Park, close to St. George, Utah, is Jenny’s Canyon, a charming and welcoming slot canyon. This lovely slot canyon is only a 5-minute walk away, making it accessible and ideal for youngsters. The attractive caverns and cavities that embellish the granite walls offer chances for exploration and play. Following your enjoyment of the slot, you can continue your excursions at an accessible viewpoint. The slot’s short length, which hikers may complete in about 500 feet, is its sole downside. The short hike is well-liked by tourists, thus there may be regular openings in the limited parking at the trailhead. Even though Jenny’s Canyon is only a short distance away from Snow Canyon, it is a spectacular slot canyon that is well worth visiting.

  • St George Narrows
  1. Location: Near St. George, Utah
  2. Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
  3. Highlights: A tight slot canyon with unique challenges that thrill adventurers, and it’s easily accessible.

Just outside the southern Utah town of St. George, the St. George Narrows offers a thrilling but little claustrophobic experience. The slot canyon’s route is so narrow that some of its parts more closely resemble fractures than canyons. Even people with short statures will need to walk sideways to get around these confined areas. But if you’re feeling bold, this unusual and difficult slot delivers a wonderful adventure. The location is a free park that has plenty of parking and facilities. Even if the small slot isn’t your cup of tea, there are other nearby rock formations that are great for climbing and taking pictures. All who dare to enter this position will find it to be a true test of bravery and dexterity.

  1. Spring Creek Canyon
    • Location: Near Kanarra, Utah
    • Difficulty: Easy
    • Highlights: Bright reddish-orange rock colors and tranquility make this slot canyon a hidden gem.

It takes less than an hour to get from Zion National Park to Spring Creek Canyon, which is close to the community of Kanarra. This walk through a slot canyon is rather simple and features vivid reddish-orange rock formations that are especially stunning when lit up by the sun. Since it’s frequently less crowded, Spring Creek stands out for its tranquil atmosphere, which gives hikers the chance to fully appreciate the slot’s natural beauty without being distracted by large crowds. On a workday, exploring this gorgeous slot canyon can be a nearly alone experience, which is unusual for slot canyons. For those looking for a more quiet and private slot canyon adventure, Spring Creek offers a serene and visually fascinating journey.

  1. Willis Creek Slot Canyon
  1. Location: Near Bryce and Escalante
  2. Difficulty: Easy
  3. Highlights: Ideal for families, this slot canyon boasts wavy, vanilla-colored rocks and is easily accessible.

A brief and easy walk leads through the picturesque narrows of southern Utah’s Willis Creek Slot Canyon, where wavy, vanilla-colored rock formations create a visual feast. Willis Creek stands out due to the popularity of horseback riding, which makes the trail easygoing, flat, and family-friendly. It’s among the simplest and friendliest slot canyon hikes in Utah. Willis Creek is a useful addition to any Utah road trip because it is only a short drive from the famous Bryce and Escalante locations. Its accessibility and family-friendly atmosphere make it a desirable option for travellers seeking a leisurely and pleasurable slot canyon excursion.

Slot Canyons Near Zion National Park

While exploring the iconic Zion National Park, make sure to venture into the nearby slot canyons for a more intimate encounter with the region’s geological marvels. The Zion Narrows is a must-visit, but don’t forget to explore other nearby slots like Jenny’s Canyon, offering a family-friendly experience.

Slot Canyons Near Moab & Arches National Park

For those traveling to Moab and Arches National Park, you can still partake in the magic of slot canyons. Consider exploring the Buckskin Gulch and Wire Pass slot canyons near the Utah-Arizona border.

Best Utah Tours

Some slot canyons require specific vehicles and expertise, making guided tours a practical option. When visiting Peekaboo Kanab or challenging slots, consider booking a Jeep or UTV tour. These tours often provide insights into the area’s geology and history, enhancing your adventure.

Slot Canyon Utah Safety Tips

Before embarking on any slot canyon adventure, remember to prioritize safety:

  1. Check the weather: Always monitor the weather forecast and avoid entering slot canyons when rain is in the forecast, as flash floods can be life-threatening.
  2. Permits: Many slot canyons now require permits due to their popularity, so plan ahead and secure permits if necessary.
  3. Gear: Wear appropriate clothing and footwear, and consider bringing a headlamp or flashlight for darker passages.
  4. Hydration: Carry sufficient water, especially in the desert environment where temperatures can be extreme.
  5. Navigation: Familiarize yourself with the trail and bring a map, as cell phone reception may be limited in remote areas.

Beyond slot canyons, Utah provides a wide range of outdoor activities. Discover this fascinating state’s distinctive landscapes, national parks, and hiking routes.

Slot canyons in Utah open a doorway to the desert’s interior, showcasing the unadulterated beauty and natural marvels of the American Southwest. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned hiker, there is a slot canyon in Utah ready to astound you. Each of these slot canyons offers a unique experience. In Utah’s slot canyons, where nature’s creativity has no bounds, lace up your hiking boots, get ready for an adventure, and go on a journey.

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