Peek-a-Boo slot canyon in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is a fairly accessible slot canyon that can be explored without equipment and with a minimum of canyoneering skills. It is typically combined with a loop up Peek-a-Boo slot canyon and then down nearby Spooky slot canyon. This Peek-a-Boo slot canyon should not be confused with the less well known Peek-a-Boo slot canyon near Kanab, which is more commonly known as Red Canyon slot. While these slots are growing in popularity, their relative remoteness make it so that you can still enjoy them, but you are unlikely to have them to yourself, especially during the busier summer months.
After hiking down from the parking area to the wash, the entrance to Peek-a-Boo slot is a 15 foot scramble up a cliff. There are moki steps cut in a few places, but this is the hardest scramble up for the slot. Any fit person should be able to make this, although a helpful hand or push up might be needed. My wife is afraid of heights and this was a real trial for her. We pushed and pulled her and managed to get her to the top. Falls from here could result in a pretty good blow, so please start your adventure here carefully.
Once you are up this initial cliff, you will see the twin arches for which this canyon gets its name. There are a few more small arches along this route as well. The walls switch back and forth in a wonderful meandering way that make this a great hike, but the scrambling is not over. There is another spot where there is about a 6 foot wall to ascend, the base of which is often full of water. On our trip, there was a friendly scout leader who gave us a hand up – by stepping on a narrow ledge and grasping the hand, we were able to reach the top. My wife failed to make the step, and dropped into the murky water, getting herself wet from her shorts down. Please be careful here as well.
After this spot, the remaining scrambling was much easier. The beauty of the slot continued to impress and it was quite enjoyable.
Watch for your exit
The canyon will open a bit wider a time or two, but continue on – more slots await farther upstream. Eventually, it will start opening up and shallowing up. If you are only doing Peek-a-Boo, this is your cue to turn around and double back. You will have to jockey for position at times with the traffic coming up stream. If you are continuing to Spooky slot canyon, which is my recommendation, then exit to the right and head overland in that direction. There is a trace of a trail and an occasional cairn of stones, but it isn’t very well marked. Not to worry – if you go straight, you will come to the wide wash that leads to Spooky Slot canyon.
Spooky Slot Canyon
Go downstream (right) down this wide, sandy wash and you will reach the Spooky Slot canyon. Read about it here.
To access to Peek-a-Boo slot canyon, start in the small town of Escalante, which is on highway 12. Escalante is a natural stop o a route from Capitol Reef National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park. From Escalante, go east on highway 12 for 5 miles and turn right on the Hole in the Rock road (BLM200). Continue on this rugged washboard gravel and dirt road for 26 miles and then turn left on BLM 252, which is an even less finished dirt road (going right heads to Batty Caves). The area where these slots are located is called Dry Fork.
After about 1 mile, you will come to a small parking lot. This is as far as I would recommend you go unless you have a high clearance vehicle. The road leads from here to another, larger parking lot that is closer to the trailhead by about 1 mile, but the road is very rough at this point. We followed behind a minivan that managed to do it, but from what I saw, he risked much in making the trip. If you don’t have a high clearance, you can just walk this extra mile each way and not risk your low clearance vehicle.
While this is not a technical canyon, and I have seen folks of many ages make this trip, it is far from trivial. The distance is not the issue – the route up and back for just Peek-a-Boo is 2 miles. The recommended loop through Peek-a-Boo and Spooky is 3.5 miles total. It is very hot here in the summer months – make sure to take plenty of water. Do not take this lightly.
Besides the heat, you will have to do quite a bit of scrambling and climbing up small cliffs and up and down boulders. The initial cliff is the highest, but there are a couple of others that are a bit challenging to the unfit. A couple of spots can hold water for a long time after rain, so getting your legs and feet wet is a possibility.
My two teenagers had no trouble, but it was hard on my wife, who is a bit scared of heights. We managed to make it, but there were times she wasn’t sure if she would and she swears she will not let me take here there again. Smaller kids will have to be pushed and pulled up the higher areas. I would hesitate to take kids under about 8 on this trail, but if they are adventurous and you have fit, strong folks to help, they likely can make it through. Strollers and babies on back packs are not recommended.
Fat Man’s Squeeze
On top of that, there are places in these slots where a larger person will have difficulty getting through. When I went through, I weighed 260 (I’m told I carried it well, whatever that means) and there were times when I wasn’t sure if I would fit, particularly in Spooky slot canyon. I literally had to exhale and squeeze through a few times. The real issue for me was the thickness of my chest, not my over-sized stomach – the latter I could squish, but my deeper chest made it very tight. In Spooky slot canyon, when you encounter these tight squeezes, there are no alternative routes – it is fit through or double back and retrace your steps. If you are afraid of heights, are claustrophobic, or of larger size, this is not the hike for you.
I have read about short cuts from the bottom of Spooky Slot that lead more directly back to the parking area. We tried to find this, and lost our way. There are traces of trails running in multiple directions and it is easy to get turned around and there are no landmarks to look for. Already tired and it being over 100° Fahrenheit, we chose to be careful and went back into the canyon and followed the wash back to the entrance of Peek-a-Boo, where the trail back to the parking area was easy to locate. Following the creek bottom back is my recommendation.
Make sure to have a map with you or at least have the route in your head to prevent the likelihood of problems. American National Parks are wild country, and you cannot expect to get help from anyone and have to assume ownership of your own safety. While in the slots and on the main trail, you’ll likely encounter other hikers, and can probably get help if needed. We had a nice group of older scouts and their leaders who helped us over a couple of the challenging spots up Peek-a-boo and down the large boulder drop in Spooky, but you can’t assume this help will be available.
GPS coordinates for the trail can be found here.
Brimstone Gulch Slot Canyon
Many folks feel like the nearby Brimstone Slot Canyon is better than either Peek-a-Boo or Spooky slot canyon. It requires some extra hiking and gets so narrow at times that you have to exit it and reenter. I have not made that trip yet, but here is a map showing its location relative to the other slots. Also, Dry Fork Narrows are nearby and is worth the hike, but is less dramatic (and less challenging) than the other slots.
Hole in the Rock Road
Hole in the Rock Road is not paved, and gets in rougher shape the further you travel from Escalante toward the Hole in the Rock, but there are lots of amazing hikes that begin from this road. Many other great slot canyons of varying length and difficulty are here. I haven’t done any of these yet, but plan to. You’ll need a 4WD vehicle to get to many of these.
I’ve put a gallery of hi-resolution pictures from Peek-a-Boo Slot canyon and Spooky Slot canyon here.
To read about nearby Spooky Slot Canyon, go here.
Read about all the slot canyons I have visited here.