Red Canyon slot canyon (known locally as Peek-a-Boo slot canyon) near Kanab is a great non-technical slot canyon located on public lands. Don’t confuse it with the Red Canyon located near Bryce nor the Peek-a-boo slot canyon located in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Years ago, all slot canyons were called peek-a-boo canyons. As such, there are several that have kept that name.
Red Canyon Slot
Red Canyon slot is a bit more known than nearby Bay Bill slot canyon or Merwin slot canyon, but it’s remoteness means you may still have it to yourself (like we did). The reason for the name of Red Canyon is quickly evident – the sandstone here is a bright red-orange color that is very scenic. The canyon grows narrow quickly, and the walls tower above us as much as 100 feet as we plumb its depths. Thru twists and curves, the sun alternately bathes you in warm sunlight or abandons you to a sometimes chilly shade. The walls grow very narrow at times, touchable on both sides at once but never threatening to become too narrow to navigate (as Spooky slot canyon does). Meandering like a snake, the canyon winds to the right and left and in places, the same thing happens to the narrow canyon above you, making the walls appear to bend against reasonable laws of gravity.
The easily navigable portion last for only a third of a mile, but during that time, the canyon will widen out a couple of times before narrowing back up. Do not quit until you reach a large 15 foot high stone blockage wedged into the canyon. You can navigate around this only by going back a ways and walking around it, but the slot peters out soon after the blockage anyway making the effort not worthwhile. Enjoy the hike back – seeing a slot from the opposite direction is almost like hiking a different canyon.
When you get back to the slot entrance, head north (left when exiting the canyon) next to a small drainage – you’ll see a trace of a trail. 100 yards up this sandy wash is Shaman’s Needle, a thin hoodoo made of the same bright red sandstone as the canyon. Double back when you are done giving it a look.
The easily navigated portion of the slot is only about a third of a mile each way, but getting to the entrance of Red Canyon slot is a bit of a challenge. Here are a few options.
The ATV club has built a new trailhead that requires an ATV drive. Look for the turn sign off of Hwy 89 about 7.5 miles north of Kanab. Follow the BLM road 102 to the slot canyon (watch for signs) – about 2.8 miles. This would be the quickest way to hike to the slot if you don’t have access to an ATV or 4×4. You can shorten the time a bit by following the sandy track for 1.2 miles and then after the sandy wash, walk due north cross country for another mile. The land is open and mostly flat so navigation is easy. This will save about a mile total from your hike.
The original trailhead is easier if you have the right vehicle. A 4×4 vehicle that can handle the soft sand is a must as you likely will need to remove some air from your tires to navigate the sand – an air compressor is recommended to refill the tires if needed. Driving south from the Mount Carmel junction (north of Kanab), look on the left side of the road for mile marker 72 where the turn-off to Coral Pink Sand Dunes is on the right. Just south of these landmarks, make a left on the next road which is a paved road heading east toward Best Friends Animal Sanctuary and Angel Canyon. After .25 miles, turn left onto a sandy 4WD road just prior to the group of buildings that is the animal sanctuary. You’ll go for 3 miles on this deep sandy path. After one mile on 102M you’ll cross a cattle guard and then take the right fork of the road, now 102. At 1.8 miles turn right on another fork to remain on 102. Just short of the 3 mile mark, the road passes through an open fence. Stay right and 30 yards the road intersects with a wide wash (Red Canyon). Turn left and follow the dry creek bed for a mile to arrive at the mouth of Red Canyon slot (Peek-a-boo slot canyon).
A good driving map and more details, including GPS coordinates, can be found here.
Since we didn’t have the right vehicle, for our trip we hired Dreamland Safari Tours using their Slot Canyon Photog Bonanza Tour, which lasted most of the day and included three slot canyons in order: Bay Bill slot canyon, Merwin slot canyon and Red Canyon slot. I thought these slots got progressively better as we went. The trip is a little on the expensive side, but they provided us with a nice guide, Brett, who led us into all three slots, drove us about and provided a nice picnic lunch. I recommend them if you are looking for a guided trip in the Kanab area.
To see hi-res pictures from our trip, go to my photo gallery.
A list of the slot canyons I have visited, with links to details about each is here.