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Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

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.

Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon

Tough start

Entrance Cliff, Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Entrance to Peek-a-Boo

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.

Peek-a-Boo Slot

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.

Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon

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

Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Peek-a-Boo near time to exit

Go downstream (right) down this wide, sandy wash and you will reach the Spooky Slot canyon. Read about it here.

Directions

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.

High Clearance

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.

Challenging Trail

Map Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon, Spooky Slot Canyon
Map Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon, Spooky Slot Canyon

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.

Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon

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

Spooky Slot Canyon, Spooky Gulch, Utah, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Spooky Slot Canyon 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.

Trail Back

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.

Be Careful

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.

Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Peek-a-Boo

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.

Map Brimstone Gulch Slot Canyon
Map Brimstone Gulch Slot Canyon

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.

 

Spooky Slot Canyon in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Spooky 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. 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.

Spooky Slot Canyon, Spooky Gulch, Utah, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Spooky Slot Canyon

Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon

I recommend doing Spooky Slot Canyon as part of a loop starting with Peek-a-Boo slot canyon. This loop is 3.5 miles round trip. To read about Peek-a-Boo slot, go here.

Just Doing Spooky Slot

Downstream Entrance to Spooky Slot Canyon
Downstream Entrance to Spooky Slot Canyon

After hiking down from the parking area to the wash, follow the wash downstream (right). The wash will T into another wash – head left and you’ll get to the downstream exit from Spooky Slot. Enter here and proceed upstream. You will have a few scrambles over spot, but your biggest issue will be passing other hikers likely heading downstream, since most folks do Spooky as part of a loop and will be heading in the opposite direction you are. When you come to a pile of boulders about 6 feet above your head, double back – you have done all the good parts of Spooky.

One advantage of doing this route is that if you are unable to manage the climbs or are of larger size, you can go as far as you are comfortable and then double back. Doing the loop in kind of commits you a bit as doubling back would be challenging. Total hiking if you do Spooky in and out likely will be just as long as doing the loop with Peek-a-Boo – about 3.5 miles.

Part of Loop

Spooky Gorge Wash, Upstream from Spooky Slot Canyon
Spooky Gorge Wash, Upstream from Slot Canyon

If you did Peek-a-Boo slot first, then you will be catching Spooky Slot canyon from upstream after walking over from Peek-a-boo gulch. This portion of the wash is wide and sandy. As it begins to narrow up, you will come to a pile of boulders. It may not look like much, but this is the only way into Spooky Slot from here. The scramble down requires a bit of crawling and then dropping about 6 feet to the sandy bottom below. By hanging as far down as possible before letting go, you only have to drop a short distance.

Boulder scramble

Rockfall, Spooky Slot Canyon, Spooky Gulch, Utah
Rockfall you have navigate down

This will feel scary as you can’t see the ground at all from this vantage and it is hard to let go without being able to see where you are dropping. I recommend you have the tallest and most adventurous to go first and then offer assistance to those that follow. My wife found this particularly hard with her fear of heights.

Beautiful narrow, tall slot

Once you have navigated the boulder entrance, Spooky slot is gorgeous. It gets its name due to its deep and narrow, winding nature. Shadows abound, and if you enter the slot at the right time of day, near midday, you will be treated with beams of light that are reminiscent of the famous Antelope Canyon slot, but without the extreme crowds. I loved this slot a great deal, other than the discomfort of the squeezes…

Fat Man’s Squeeze

Spooky Slot Canyon, Spooky Gulch, Utah, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Canyon is very narrow

There are places in Spooky slot canyon 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 oversized 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.

Directions

To access to Spooky 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.

High Clearance

Spooky Slot Canyon, Spooky Gulch, Utah, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Spooky Slot Canyon Light Beams

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.

Challenging Trail

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, if you do the loop you will have to do quite a bit of scrambling and climbing up small cliffs and up and down boulders. Peek-a-Boo is harder in this way, with the hardest part of Spooky coming at the boulder upstream entrance.

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 the whole loop 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. If you only do Spooky from the downstream entrance, then you could probably manage to go quite a ways with younger kids or even a baby in a backpack.

Spooky Slot Canyon, Spooky Gulch, Utah, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Spooky Slot Canyon Mini-arch

Trail Back

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.

Be Careful

Map Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon, Spooky Slot Canyon
Map Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon, Spooky Slot Canyon

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 is here and is worth the hike, but is less dramatic (and less challenging) than the other slots.

Spooky Slot Canyon, Spooky Gulch, Utah, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Spooky Slot Canyon

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 Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon, go here.

Read about all the slot canyons I have visited here.

Peek-a-Boo and Spooky Slot Canyon Gallery – in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Peek-a-Boo slot canyon and Spooky Slot canyon are a great pair of slots that can be experienced in a 3.5 mile loop trail. Located in Utah in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument along the Hole in the Rock road, each is impressive in its own right, and I recommend you see both. Peek-a-Boo slot has several small arches that are its claim to fame, while Spooky Slot canyon is famous for how narrow and tall are its winding passages.

This trail is not trivial but can be done by anyone in decent physical shape who can do a bit of climbing and is not afraid of heights or is too large. Read all the details about in my articles about Peek-a-Boo slot canyon and Spooky slot canyon.

Below are some hi-resolution images taken from our hike through these nice slots. They are in order as you will encounter them if you do the recommended loop going up stream through Peek-a-Boo slot canyon and downstream through Spooky Slot canyon.

Trail to Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Trail to Slot Canyons
Entrance Cliff, Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Entrance Cliff to Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon
Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon, navigating water spot
Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon
Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon
Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon
Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon
Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon
Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon
Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon
Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon near end of slot
Overland from Peek-a-Boo Slot to Spooky Slot Canyon
Overland from Peek-a-Boo Slot to Spooky Slot Canyon
Spooky Gorge Wash, Upstream from Spooky Slot Canyon
Spooky Gorge Wash, Upstream from Spooky Slot Canyon
Spooky Slot Canyon, Spooky Gulch, Utah, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Spooky Slot Canyon
Spooky Slot Canyon, Spooky Gulch, Utah, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Spooky Slot Canyon
Spooky Slot Canyon, Spooky Gulch, Utah, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Spooky Slot Canyon
Spooky Slot Canyon, Spooky Gulch, Utah, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Spooky Slot Canyon
Rockfall, Spooky Slot Canyon, Spooky Gulch, Utah
Rockfall that has to be navigated to get into Spooky Canyon from upstream
Rockfall, Spooky Slot Canyon, Spooky Gulch, Utah
Navigating Rockfall, Spooky Slot Canyon
Rockfall, Spooky Slot Canyon, Spooky Gulch, Utah
Rockfall from below, Spooky Slot Canyon
Spooky Slot Canyon, Spooky Gulch, Utah, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Spooky Slot Canyon
Spooky Slot Canyon, Spooky Gulch, Utah, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Spooky Slot Canyon
Spooky Slot Canyon, Spooky Gulch, Utah, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Spooky Slot Canyon
Spooky Slot Canyon, Spooky Gulch, Utah, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Spooky Slot Canyon
Spooky Slot Canyon, Spooky Gulch, Utah, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Spooky Slot Canyon
Spooky Slot Canyon, Spooky Gulch, Utah, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Spooky Slot Canyon
Spooky Slot Canyon, Spooky Gulch, Utah, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Spooky Slot Canyon
Spooky Slot Canyon, Spooky Gulch, Utah, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Spooky Slot Canyon
Spooky Slot Canyon, Spooky Gulch, Utah, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Spooky Slot Canyon
Spooky Slot Canyon, Spooky Gulch, Utah, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Spooky Slot Canyon
Spooky Slot Canyon, Spooky Gulch, Utah, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Spooky Slot Canyon
Spooky Slot Canyon, Spooky Gulch, Utah, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Spooky Slot Canyon
Spooky Slot Canyon, Spooky Gulch, Utah, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Spooky Slot Canyon nearing exit
Spooky Slot Canyon Exit
Spooky Slot Canyon Exit
Downstream Entrance to Spooky Slot Canyon
Downstream Entrance/Exit to Spooky Slot Canyon

To read an article detailing all the slot canyons I have visited, go here.

 

Waterholes Slot Canyon – Description, Advice, Pictures, How to get Permit

WaterHoles slot canyon is a very accessible slot canyon that is little visited. While the lack of visitation is likely due to lack of awareness, it does improve the experience for those travelers who know about it. Located close to Page, Arizona, it should be part of your plans when in the area.

Waterholes Slot Canyon, Page Arizona

Narrow and Winding

Sandstone and erosive water has created a wonderland of natural beauty in the four corner country of the western USA. Nothing better illustrates this dynamic than a slot canyon like Waterholes slot canyon. The canyon is a pleasure to walk through – the canyon alternates between an attractive, wider canyon and the blissful narrowness that is expected of a great slot canyon.

Walking along the sandy bottom, accented occasionally by a hearty desert shrub or blossoming plant, your eyes tend to follow look upward, gazing at the cliff walls hanging about 100 feet above you. This depth is not extreme by any means in the area – the Colorado river canyon less than a mile to the west is many times that. But the narrowness of the canyon is what makes it memorable. As you walk along, the walls close in at intervals and you find yourself meandering in a wavy pattern as you wend your way along the bottom of the canyon. Often, the walls are only a few feet apart from one another.

Sculptures in Stone

Waterholes Slot Canyon, Page Arizona

The sculpted sandstone that comprise the walls betray the carved patterns made by rare but powerful rushing waters. Streaked as if carved by machines, the walls have been cut over eons by these waters, pushing sand and stones along to leave jagged corners and rounded bowls in the walls of the canyon. The switchbacks are so common, that in places you cannot see 20 feet in front of you as the canyon doubles back a dozen times in a hundred feet. Often, the sandstone seems more like frozen waves than canyon walls. It is reminiscent of the crashing surf on a stormy beach.

Almost Alone

In the 90 or so minutes we spent in Waterholes slot canyon, we only encountered four other people. Seeing so few, it was natural to stop and share our experiences here with each other. The feeling is consistent – it is one of the best things imaginable and seeing so few actually participating in it only adds to the fun for those of us who do. We are in pretty rare company, all the more surprising considering how easy it was to do. Just two miles away, there is a hundred people crowded around the edge of Horseshoe Bend to look at that (deservedly) good view, but few of them even know that Waterholes slot canyon is here.

Waterholes Slot Canyon, Page Arizona

It’s a place to take your time, absorbing the experience as a life enhancing memory. There are so few places in the world with such a landscape. Knowing that there are hundreds of slots like this within a few hundred miles of this spot only heightens the wonder. The percentage of people you will meet back home who has ever been in any slot, let alone this one, will be very low. You may not find anyone you know who has done it, or even knows what a slot canyon is. I often try to explain it to people, and I usually get a blank stare. I might as well be speaking about walking on the moon. Most cannot conceive a place like this, let alone make any endeavor to imagine that they themselves could see it.

The Minority

I write Carefuladventures.com for this very purpose. I know that we are the minority – those of us who are drawn to travel, to see a new landscape, to touch and be touched by something we’ve never felt before. I hope that a few of you will catch the vision from reading my blog. Waterholes slot canyon will make you long for more slot canyon experiences, and more adventures in general. Pictures never do a place like this justice, anymore than a picture of a piece of homemade pie can do justice to what it tastes like. Give Waterholes slot canyon a taste, roll it around in your mouth, and I think you will find it to be a wonderful thing.

Navajo Permit Required

Waterholes slot canyon is on Navajo land. They require you to purchase a hiking pass (about $6) to hike through Waterholes. You can get this pass at the Tribal Parks office next to the Leche-e Chapter House or also at the entrance to the Antelope Canyon area. This pass allows you to explore about 3 miles of Waterholes slot canyon, but there are restrictions (see below).

Directions

Waterholes Slot Canyon, Page Arizona sign
Waterholes Slot Canyon sign

Waterholes is one of the most easily reached slot canyons in the whole country. It is located less than 7 miles south of Page, Arizona and only 2 miles south of the suddenly popular Horseshoe Bend. To get there, head south of Page on Hwy 89. You’ll pass the parking area for Horseshoe Bend on your right and about 2 miles on you’ll find a small parking area on your left. If you cross the bridge over Waterholes canyon, you’ve gone too far.

Map to Waterholes Slot Canyon, Page Arizona
google maps 2017

Scramble to the Bottom

Waterholes Slot Canyon, Page Arizona trail down
Waterholes Slot Canyon trail down

After parking, work around the fence (there is a narrow, switchback area to go around the fence that discourages cows) and walk along the canyon (on your right) for a bit. The way down is not obvious nor really easy (you may find a few piles of cairns or a trace of a trail, but we missed it the first time), but it does not require any particular canyoneering skills. You will have to navigate over or under one large boulder fall and scramble down a rough trail to the bottom of the canyon. Once in the bottom, the walk in the canyon is not nearly as difficult as getting there. Look at the gallery to see larger pictures of the trail for an idea of what you’ll have to navigate.

Be Careful

While the hike down is the hardest part, which won’t be a problem for most who are in decent health, take the usual precautions. Slot canyons are normally dry and safe to hike but when there is rain in the area or upstream, the canyon can become very dangerous if flash flood hits it. This happens very rarely, but please be aware of the risk if the weather turns. Also remember to take plenty of water as this part of Arizona (like most) can get very hot most times of the year. The elevation is gradual and there are a few places where you have to scramble up a small incline or ledge. If you managed to get to the bottom, these should prove no problem to you.

Waterholes Slot Canyon, Page Arizona

On our hike, we went as far as a ladder that allows for scaling a 15 foot high cliff but went no further. You can go more if you want to, as far as the power lines as previously mentioned, but be aware of the ladder and having to ascend/descend it. There is a bit of a last step on it that might be disconcerting for some. Even if you stop here, as we did, you will have seen a nice portion of the slot.

Restricted Access

Once you are in the canyon, you’ll see the bridge to your right (west). Going past the bridge, the canyon gets deeper but there are some deep drop offs that are not navigable. You are allowed to explore to the east where it has easy hiking. After about 3 miles, you’ll come to some power lines. This marks the extent of how far you can explore even with a permit – going beyond is a violation of federal and Navajo laws. The canyon above here splits into three branches that have short, colorful narrows. The middle fork has a short, deep slot that rivals Antelope Canyon and is called Secret Canyon. Visiting this part of Waterholes requires traveling via Hummer with a licensed operator that will take you there for about $100. The benefit of going to Secret Canyon is that you will have very few other visitors, unlike Antelope Canyon.

To see a gallery of pictures from our trip, go here.

A list of all the slot canyons I’ve visited with helpful descriptions is here.

Waterholes Slot Canyon Gallery – Needful Advice on Seeing this Excellent Slot

Waterholes slot canyon is an excellent non-technical slot canyon located near the tourist town of Page, Arizona. While most of the more well known natural wonders in this area are often crowded in season, Waterholes is blissfully empty of visitors. This is only due to apparent lack of awareness, as Waterholes slot canyon is as good of an experience as any nearby and is easily reached – in fact, thousands of people drive over Waterholes canyon every day oblivious to the beauty lying below them. It does require a Navajo hiking pass and a bit of scrambling to navigate, but nothing any able-bodied people couldn’t do. While not quite as scenic as the famous Antelope Canyon slot, the ability to explore at your own pace without the crowds raises its worth tremendously.

The pictures below are a few from our trip there. After the pictures, you’ll find a link to my detailed description of the hike along with very important tips on how to see it yourself. I have included another link to a list of all the slot canyons I have visited, each of which has its own descriptive article and hi-res pictures.

Waterholes Slot Canyon, Page Arizona sign
Sign for Waterholes Canyon on Hwy 89
Waterholes Slot Canyon, Page Arizona trail down
Beginning of Trail Down to Waterholes Slot Canyon
Waterholes Slot Canyon, Page Arizona trail down
On Trail Down to Waterholes Canyon, You have to Scramble Under or Over this Rock
Waterholes Slot Canyon, Page Arizona trail down
The Trail Down to Waterholes Canyon
Waterholes Slot Canyon, Page Arizona
Hwy 89 Bridge is Visible to the West after Reaching the Canyon Floor

Waterholes Slot Canyon, Page Arizona

Waterholes Slot Canyon, Page Arizona

Waterholes Slot Canyon, Page Arizona

Waterholes Slot Canyon, Page Arizona

Waterholes Slot Canyon, Page Arizona
One of a Few Obstacles that Have to be Navigated

Waterholes Slot Canyon, Page Arizona

Waterholes Slot Canyon, Page Arizona

Waterholes Slot Canyon, Page Arizona

Waterholes Slot Canyon, Page Arizona

Waterholes Slot Canyon, Page Arizona

Waterholes Slot Canyon, Page Arizona
Some Scrambling is Required

Waterholes Slot Canyon, Page Arizona

Waterholes Slot Canyon, Page Arizona

Waterholes Slot Canyon, Page Arizona

Waterholes Slot Canyon, Page Arizona

Waterholes Slot Canyon, Page Arizona

Waterholes Slot Canyon, Page Arizona

Waterholes Slot Canyon, Page Arizona

Waterholes Slot Canyon, Page Arizona

Waterholes Slot Canyon, Page Arizona

Waterholes Slot Canyon, Page Arizona ladder
We Doubled Back at this Ladder

To read a detailed description of Waterholes slot canyon, plus needful tips, go here.

A list of all the slot canyons I’ve visited with helpful descriptions is here.

Red Canyon Slot – Also Called Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon, Description, Pictures, Directions

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, Peek-a-boo Slot Kanab, Utah

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.

Red Canyon Slot, Peek-a-boo Slot Kanab, Utah

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.

Shaman’s Needle

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.

Shaman's Needle, Red Canyon Slot, Peek-a-boo Slot Kanab, Utah
Shaman’s Needle

DIRECTIONS

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.

Red Canyon Slot end, Peek-a-boo Slot Kanab, Utah
End of the Line

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.

GUIDED TRIP

Red Canyon Slot, Peek-a-boo Slot Kanab, Utah

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.

 

Red Canyon Slot Gallery – Also Called Peek-a-Boo Slot, Description, Pictures & Directions

Red Canyon slot (also known locally as Peek-a-boo slot canyon) is a very good slot canyon north of Kanab on public lands. Getting to it can be a challenge (see the detailed article link after the pictures), but once there, it is an easy hike into a gorgeous non-technical slot canyon that features bright red-orange sandstone. Make sure to see Shaman’s Needle near the entrance as well. After the pictures is a link to my detailed article that describes Red Canyon slot as well as giving directions to it. Also is a link to all the slot canyons I have visited with links to descriptions and directions for each. Give them a look – slot canyons are addicting and each is special in its own way.

Red Canyon Slot entrance, Peek-a-boo Slot Kanab, Utah
Red Canyon Slot Entrance is Left of these Rocks, Shaman’s Needle is Straight Ahead Up the Wash
Red Canyon Slot, Peek-a-boo Slot Kanab, Utah
Something is on my shoulder? Like Bruce Campbell in Army of Darkness?

Red Canyon Slot, Peek-a-boo Slot Kanab, Utah

Red Canyon Slot, Peek-a-boo Slot Kanab, Utah

Red Canyon Slot, Peek-a-boo Slot Kanab, Utah

Red Canyon Slot, Peek-a-boo Slot Kanab, Utah

Red Canyon Slot, Peek-a-boo Slot Kanab, Utah

Red Canyon Slot, Peek-a-boo Slot Kanab, Utah

Red Canyon Slot, Peek-a-boo Slot Kanab, Utah

Red Canyon Slot, Peek-a-boo Slot Kanab, Utah

Red Canyon Slot, Peek-a-boo Slot Kanab, Utah

Red Canyon Slot, Peek-a-boo Slot Kanab, Utah

Red Canyon Slot, Peek-a-boo Slot Kanab, Utah

Red Canyon Slot, Peek-a-boo Slot Kanab, Utah
More Open Areas Like This are Between Narrow Portions

Red Canyon Slot, Peek-a-boo Slot Kanab, Utah

Red Canyon Slot end, Peek-a-boo Slot Kanab, Utah
End of the Line After .35 Mile
Shaman's Needle, Red Canyon Slot, Peek-a-boo Slot Kanab, Utah
Shaman’s Needle, Near Entrance to Red Canyon Slot

To read a detailed description of our trip, along with directions, go here.

A list of the slot canyons I have visited, with links to details about each is here.

Merwin Slot Canyon – Read about our Trip with Advice and Pictures

Merwin Slot Canyon, Merwin Arch Trail
Merwin Slot Canyon Trail

Merwin slot canyon is on BLM land near Kanab, Utah. It is a side canyon of Bay Bill Canyon which is a side canyon of Parunuweap Canyon which is the east fork of the Virgin River. Merwin slot canyon is an easy to navigate non-technical slot canyon. We walked about 1.6 miles up a dry, sandy river bottom from the last possible parking spot to get to the entrance (see directions at the below). Despite being mostly level, the loose sand made the hike more tiring than normal.

Merwin Arch

Merwin Arch, Merwin Slot Canyon, Kanab Utah
Merwin Arch

The entrance to Merwin slot canyon began abruptly, almost like a large rabbit hole. A surprise awaited us when we walked within. Merwin Arch sits just inside, and wraps right over our head. It might be the best start to a slot canyon I’ve ever seen.

The canyon continued on from there, with narrow walls coming early and often. The canyon seemed deeper than the nearby Bay Bill slot canyon and was a dramatic experience. The walls of the slot were often in shadow and we didn’t see any piercing beams of light while we were there like we saw in Antelope Canyon and Spooky Canyon.

The bottom was sandy with occasional large rocks, but the hiking wasn’t too difficult. The walls are of sandstone, and water has carved the canyon into a fun house worthy of exploration. We took our time, enjoying the undulating walls, eager to see what was around each narrow corner. Picture opportunities were abundant. We have spent much of our vacations over the years visiting national parks, but here, off the beaten path, we have the slot to ourselves. It added so much to the experience.

Powerful Water

Merwin Slot Canyon

Occasionally, we saw large boulders wedged between the walls above and were reminded of the erosive power displayed here. It wasn’t hard to imagine what a ferocious torrent must happen here whenever a heavy rain drives angry water into this narrow slot canyon. I fear for anyone trapped in this canyon when a flash flood rushes through. This happens very rarely, but make sure to check the weather forecast before venturing in any slot canyon. Remember that rain up-canyon from a slot can travel quite a distance, so the risk is not just limited to when it is raining in your immediate vicinity.

Eventually we came to a decent size rock fall that we stopped at. We could have scrambled up and continued on, but we had seen the best of the canyon and we had to walk back to the truck and make our way to another slot, the inestimable Peek-a-boo slot canyon.

Merwin is a nice slot canyon, and I would recommend visiting the nearby Bay Bill slot canyon on any visit here. Bay Bill is an extra mile each way up Bay Bill Canyon from the turn-off to Merwin Canyon.

Careful

Merwin slot canyon is not a technical slot canyon, so no canyoneering, repelling or climbing is required to experience it. You will have to walk over 4 miles round trip to see most of it, and another 3 miles or so to add Bay Bill slot canyon. This is desert country, so it gets very hot in the late spring to late autumn. Take care to prepare for the heat by bringing plenty of water and use hats and sunscreen to lesson the sun’s impact. There are no facilities of any kind along the way and you will have to take care of yourself.

Guided Tour

Merwin Slot Canyon

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, Merwin and Red Canyon. 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.

Directions

To get to Merwin slot canyon and also Bay Bill slot canyon, begin at the Mount Carmel Junction (with hwy 9) on hwy 89. Go south less than 1 mile and you’ll find a dirt road. Drive on it about one mile to a fence with a cattle guard. Park there and walk down Parunuweap Canyon for 5 miles on a public road that crosses private land to the confluence with Bay Bill Canyon. If you have a 4×4 you can drive this 5 mile stretch but you’ll be crossing the river bottom several times (the water is usually only ankle deep). From here, hike up the sandy wash of Bay Bill canyon. The hike is level but the sandy bottom will make it a bit more tiring. After about one mile, Merwin Canyon will open up on the left and you’ll need to walk .6 miles in a sandy wash to get to the slot entrance.  If you continue about 1 mile up Bay Bill canyon, you’ll get to the entrance to Bay Bill slot, so doing both in the same hike is recommended.

Merwin Slot Canyon

If you’d like to see hi-res pictures of Merwin slot canyon, go here.

Read about the nearby Bay Bill slot canyon here.

See my list of the slot canyons I’ve visited with descriptions of each here.

Merwin Slot Canyon Gallery – Pictures and Tips for a Great Visit

Merwin slot canyon is a nice slot canyon located on public land near Kanab, Utah to the east of Zion National Park. Getting there requires a bit of hiking and probably a decent 4×4, but when combined with nearby Bay Bill slot canyon, it makes for a nice half-day hike. To get to Merwin slot canyon, you have to walk 1.6 miles from the parking place up a creek bottom. At the beginning of the slot is Merwin Arch. Below are pictures from our visit, and after the pictures you’ll find useful links to a detailed description of what Merwin slot canyon is like and how to see it as well as a link to a ranked list of all the slot canyons I’ve visited with each having detailed descriptions of each. Take a look, and I think you’ll find yourself becoming a slot canyon junkie like I am.

Merwin Slot Canyon, Merwin Arch Trail
Merwin Slot Canyon Trail
Merwin Slot Canyon, Merwin Arch Trail
Merwin Slot Canyon Trail
Merwin Arch, Merwin Slot Canyon, Kanab Utah
Merwin Arch at entrance to Merwin Slot Canyon

Merwin Slot Canyon

Merwin Slot Canyon

Merwin Slot Canyon

Merwin Slot Canyon
Slot Canyon Ballet
Merwin Slot Canyon
I don’t want to lose an arm!

Merwin Slot Canyon

Merwin Slot Canyon

Merwin Slot Canyon

Merwin Slot Canyon

If you’d read about a detailed description of our visit along with tips on how to see it, go here.

Read about the nearby Bay Bill slot canyon here.

See my list of the slot canyons I’ve visited with descriptions of each here.

Bay Bill Slot Canyon – Description of Trip near Kanab, Utah on BLM Land near Zion National Park

Bay Bill slot canyon (named after a cowboy) is located east of the world-famous Zion National Park, which contains some equally famous slot canyons. Unlike Zion, when you hike Bay Bill slot, you are likely to have it to yourself. After driving about 5 miles on a 4×4 track that dipped in and out of the shallow river bottom, we reached out parking spot and began our journey upriver.

Mini-Zion

Trail to Bay Bill Slot Canyon, Merwin Slot Canyon, Merwin Arch
Cliffs Along Trail

The hike itself was beautiful. Having been to Zion National Park, the scene was a familiar one to us, only smaller here. Undulating sandstone cliffs line the river – twisted stone of alternating shades of orange, yellow and white. Cliffs rose up hundreds of feet and peered down at us from their haughty heights. We were reminded of just how vast is the American West as we walked for miles with nary a sign of human influence other than an occasional footprint. The dichotomy of the blue sky and puffy white clouds, the multi-hued cliffs and the evergreen trees appealed to the photographers in our family.

Trail to Bay Bill Slot Canyon, Merwin Slot Canyon, Merwin Arch

We came around a corner and the sandstone reached down to the sandy bottom in a more gradual slope. Looking similar to the famous Wave a hundred miles to the east, we climbed upon the sandstone and enjoyed the view. It feels like we are walking on a petrified sand dune, with streaks of erosion making interesting patterns in the rock.

The hike was two miles long, and while that distance was not a concern to us even in the relatively hot May weather, the loose sand we walked along was tiring. We devised ways of reducing the difficulty in small ways, looking for rockier stretches or simply walked in one another’s footprints.  Tired of the drudgery now, we were glad to see the cliff walls visibly close in on us and we knew we were entering the slot.

Narrow, Orange Cliffs

Bay Bill Slot Canyon, Kanab Utah

The sandstone walls became a familiar orange shade as we walked up-canyon. The bottom was still mostly sandy, but our earlier fatigue gave way to the excitement of the beauty of the ever-narrowing canyon.  The walls towered above us as the walls closed in. Soon we reached spots where we could touch both sides of the canyon at the same time. It was remarkable to stand in a canyon so narrow and so tall. We moved in and out of sunlight depending on which way the canyon faced. There were no beams of light like some slot canyons have, but it was still remarkable.

Directions

Bay Bill slot is on public lands and is a nice and easy slot canyon to hike through, but getting there is a bit of a challenge. You’ll need a 4×4 to do it yourself, although if you don’t mind a 15 mile hike you can do both Bay Bill and Merwin slot canyons without a 4×4. If you have a 4×4 or hire a guide who has one, you will only be looking at about 5 miles of walking round trip to get to the entrances of both slot canyons. Each slot can be navigated for quite a ways, so additional hiking in and out of each canyon will raise the total hiking distance.

Bay Bill Slot Canyon, Kanab Utah

Bay Bill slot canyon is on BLM land near Kanab, Utah. It is a side canyon of Parunuweap Canyon which is the east fork of the Virgin River. The lower part of Bay Bill canyon is a sandy wash, but 2 miles up from the parking area it becomes an easy to navigate non-technical slot canyon.

To get to Bay Bill Canyon and also Merwin Slot canyon, begin at the Mount Carmel Junction (with hwy 9) on hwy 89 which is about 17 miles north of Kanab, Utah. Go south less than 1 mile and you’ll find a dirt road. Drive on it about one mile to a fence with a cattle guard. Park there and walk down Parunuweap Canyon for 5 miles on a public road that crosses private land to the confluence with Bay Bill Canyon.

If you have a 4×4 you can drive this 5 mile stretch but you’ll be crossing the river bottom several times (the water is usually only ankle deep). From here, hike up the sandy wash of Bay Bill canyon for about 2 miles. The hike is level but the sandy bottom will make it a bit more tiring. After about one mile, Merwin Canyon will open up on the left. If you continue about 1 mile further up Bay Bill canyon, you’ll get to the entrance to Bay Bill slot.

Tour Guide

Bay Bill Slot Canyon, Kanab Utah

Since we flew to Utah and didn’t have proper 4×4, 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, Merwin and Red Canyon. I thought these slots got progressively better as we went. They provided us with a nice guide, (Thanks 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.

If you would like to see a hi-res gallery of pictures from our trip, go here.

To read about the nearby Merwin Slot Canyon, go here.

Read about all the slot canyons I have visited with reviews of each here.