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Peek-a-Boo & Spooky Gulch


  • Weather: Clear, 38F

On most Southern Utah bucket lists, you’ll find the local favorite one-two punch of Peek-a-Boo and Spooky Slot Canyons. These magnificent hikes, located in the Dry Fork area of the  Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument  area, can be done individually, but they make for a killer loop you can tackle in one afternoon of adventure. Once you’re in, all you have to do is walk through a scenic paradise of red and purple rock. From the trailhead, get into Dry Fork Wash via moderate scrambling down some short cliffs and following cairns as needed. Once you’re off the cliff and into the sand dunes, you’ll hike along the creek wash until you see the mouth of Peek-a-Boo. There are hand and foot cut-outs in the rock to help you get up and into the canyon. Once you leave Peek-a-Boo, keep hiking (longer than you think you should, most likely) until you come to a juniper tree, then follow the trail and cairns leading to the right and the entrance of Spooky Gulch. Scramble down a mellow rock face to get into the canyon. It soon tightens up, and you’ll be having a good time navigating the confines of this fun canyon. The loop generally takes about 3-4 hours depending on pace and skill level.

What makes it great.

This three-miler will give you stellar views and a new perspective of slot canyons in Southern Utah. Unlike many of the Escalante-area slot canyons, Peek-a-Boo and Spooky Gulch require zero technical gear or know-how—although it requires some navigational and rock-scrambling skill. Peek-A-Boo is a slot and corkscrew, and Spooky Gulch is a narrow slot canyon. It is worth noting, due to the restrictive nature of the some of the spaces in Spooky, this canyon is better suited for smaller body types. Adding to the cool factor of this destination is that it’s a loop — which is rare for these parts. You could just poke into one of the canyons for an hour to see what it’s all about, but why not do both while you’re there?

Who is Going to Love It

Everyone — except claustrophobes. This loop has scrambling and shuffling to make it like an adult-sized play-place. The natural waves and contours of the sandstone are awe-inspiring and perfect for pictures, while the light stemming and maneuvering are totally fun. The canyon only gets really tight in Spooky Gulch, where large adults who are backpacking will have to remove their backpacks to get through. Because of some very tame climbing to get into both Peek-a-Boo and Spooky (if entered as a loop after Peek-a-Boo), it’s probably best to leave the dog at home. But if your mutt is a climber, and you are adamant about bringing it along, dogs are allowed here.

Directions, Parking and Regulations

GPS Coordinates for the trailhead: (37.476782, -111.220040) From the pull-off at Highway 12, head down Hole-in-the-Rock Road for 26.3 miles to Dry Fork road and the trailhead — set and watch your odometer to be sure. Make sure you have a full tank of gas and lots of water as there are no amenities down this rough dirt road. This section of Hole-in-the-Rock Road provides easy access for passenger vehicles when dry; when wet, due to the clay consistency of the dirt, it might be impassable for even 4x4 vehicles. To be safe, don’t drive on wet roads in the desert. The trip is great in the spring or fall, any time of day; the cool canyon makes for a respite from the summer’s heat in the area. Just make sure you always check the weather report, because this is flash-flood country, and June, July, and August carry the greatest risk. Also note that there have been sightings of Great Basin rattlesnakes in the canyons and in the desert in general — be careful.

For current conditions on any of the slot canyons off Hole-in-the-Rock Road, Burr Trail, or other hiking opportunities in, or along the Escalante River and its side canyons, please contact the Escalante Interagency Visitor Center at 435-826-5499.

Well-prepared travel is responsible travel.

Do your part by planning ahead

spooky gulch canyon utah

Peekaboo Canyon & Spooky Gulch: Utah Slot Canyon Hike

One of the best slot canyon hikes in Utah has to be the Spooky Gulch and Peekaboo Canyon hike, where you can see one, two, three, or even four amazing slot canyons in a single trail.

This is a moderate loop hike near Escalante that first takes you to Peekaboo Slot Canyon, which is one of the most beautiful slot canyons we’ve ever seen, and then Spooky Gulch, which is extremely tight and claustrophobic.

Last, but not least, when you visit the Peekaboo and Spooky slot canyons you also have the option to add on two more slots: Brimstone Gulch and the Dry Fork Narrows. That way you get to see four of the best slot canyons in Utah in one hike!

This guide and map will show how to do the Spooky and Peekaboo slot canyons hike, where to find the trailhead, and everything else you need to know before you go!

Contents hide 1) Quick Facts 2) Peekaboo And Spooky Slot Canyons: What To Expect 3) • Trail Beginning 4) • Dry Fork Narrows 5) • Peekaboo Slot Canyon 6) • Spooky Slot Canyon 7) • Brimstone Slot Canyon 8) Peekaboo & Spooky Map 9) Peekaboo & Spooky Trailhead Location 10) Trailhead Conditions 11) Slot Canyon Safety Tips 12) Where To Stay In Escalante 13) More Things To See Nearby 14) Best Utah Tours 15) More Utah Slot Canyon Guides

Quick Facts

  • Distance: 3.5 miles (5.5 km) round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 300 feet (90 m)
  • Duration: 3 – 4 hours round trip
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Peekaboo And Spooky Slot Canyons: What To Expect

This hike takes you to a desert gulch with 4 different slot canyons: Dry Fork, Peakaboo, Spooky, and Brimstone.

The main reason people do this trail is to see the Peekaboo and Spooky slot canyons, which are especially amazing, but the other two slots are also nice if you have time.

Spooky Gulch Slot Canyon Utah

The dark and mysterious looking Spooky Gulch

If you’re new to slot canyons and just want an introduction (or if you’re bringing a dog), you can simply walk through the wide and easy Dry Fork Narrows slot for an out-and-back hike with nice beginner friendly views.

If you want something more exciting, you can continue to the Peekaboo and Spooky slot canyons loop, which is really spectacular, although it’s not good for pets.

These two slots are moderately difficult, but beginners can still do them. You don’t need any special gear or technical skills, but you do need to be in good shape and not at all claustrophobic.

Peekaboo Canyon Utah

Peekaboo Canyon may be our favorite slot canyon Utah has to offer.

One important thing to note is that BLM recommends going up Peekaboo slot canyon first and then down Spooky slot canyon.

It’s theoretically possible to do them in the opposite direction, but it’s harder, and you’ll have a problem when you run into other hikers doing the slots in the correct order. These are very tight slots so it’s not a good place to have a traffic jam.

Depending on when you go, and how much rain there’s been recently, you may also run into a bit of standing water or mud in the slot canyons, in which case you’ll have to do some extra gymnastics to pass.

The sections below explain each part of this trail and what to expect. The entire hike is so worth it!

Spooky Gulch Slot Canyon Utah

• Trail Beginning

There are two different trailheads for the Peekaboo and Spooky slot canyons, so the route is slightly different depending on which one you use. I’ll share a map later in this guide.

Either way, you’ll start out on a plateau in the desert, and you have to hike down into a shallow gulch to reach the slot canyons.

The first part of the trail is on dirt and sand paths with some occasional slick rock, and you’ll see plenty of little stacked rock cairns to help you find your way.

This part of the hike is exposed to the sun, but it’s all downhill. A bigger challenge is going back up the hill later, because even though the elevation gain is mild, it’s a bit harder because of the heat.

Keep going downhill until you reach the sandy Dry Fork Wash, and then the trail flattens and you have access to 4 slot canyons within a short walking distance of each other!

Dry Fork Wash

Dry Fork Wash has 4 slot canyons you can visit in a single hike.

Dry Fork Wash Sign

A sign in the Dry Fork Wash pointing to the 3 main slot canyons.

• Dry Fork Narrows

The first slot canyon you’ll encounter on this hike is the Dry Fork Narrows.

If you’re coming from the Upper trailhead, you’ll actually pass through this slot on the way to the Peekaboo and Spooky slot canyons. If you’re coming from the Lower trailhead, you can still visit this slot, but it’ll require a bit of detouring — the exit from the Dry Fork Narrows is near the entrance to Peekaboo Canyon.

The path at the Dry Fork Narrows is wide and easy, so it’s perfect for slot canyon newbies and pets. This passage is bigger and tamer than the slot canyons at Spooky and Peekaboo, so you can just relax and enjoy the scenery as you walk through.

I have heard of people seeing rattlesnakes in this slot, so you’ll want to watch your step and keep your eyes on the trail, but we didn’t see any snakes ourselves.

The slot section of the Dry Fork Narrows lasts for about 0.5 miles and then ends at the sandy wash, after which you can return to the trailhead, or walk 150 yards to the Peekaboo Canyon entrance to continue the adventure.

Dry Fork Narrows Slot Canyon Utah

Dry Fork Narrows

• Peekaboo Slot Canyon

The Peekaboo Slot Canyon is where things really start to get interesting!

This is like an adult playground, with lots of fun obstacles to cross and wonderful red rock walls to admire.

Even though it’s a short slot, I think it’s one of the most beautiful slot canyons in Utah, featuring a heart shaped rock passage and rose colored arch ceilings.

It’s also moderately difficult, although beginners can still do it.

Peekaboo Slot Canyon

Natural rock window at Peekaboo slot canyon

The steep climb at the beginning of Peekaboo Canyon (pictured below) is the hardest part.

It’s a slickrock ledge about 15 feet tall, and there isn’t much to hold. This part could be dangerous if you fall, but as long as you have shoes with good grip you should be okay.

The subsequent obstacles in Peekaboo Canyon are easier and more enjoyable.

Peekaboo Obstacle

Arch ceilings at Peekaboo slot canyon

When you reach the top of Peekaboo slot canyon, the path will widen dramatically and you’re back in the sunshine.

Keep going until you reach the sandy wash, which signals that you’ve reached the end and it’s time to cross over to Spooky Gulch. This part is easy to get lost because the trail is unmarked except for rock cairns, and there are lots of paths from lost hikers leading in all directions.

You need to walk east in a straight line for about 0.5 miles, and then you’ll come upon another sandy wash, which is the start of Spooky Gulch.

The entrance to Spooky slot canyon is marked with a pin on Google Maps called ‘Spooky Gulch Top’.

Desert Path

You have to cross a bit of desert to reach the top of Spooky Gulch

Spooky Entrance

The gradually narrowing top entrance to Spooky Gulch

• Spooky Slot Canyon

Take a deep breath of fresh air, because this is your last moment of freedom for awhile! Spooky Gulch is only about 600 yards long, but it feels much longer because of how cramped it is.

This slot is extremely tight. There are parts where you have to shuffle sideways just to fit your body through the slot, and backpacks have to be carried awkwardly overhead.

Your knees and elbows, clothes, and any other gear you’re carrying will get pretty scraped up as you go.

Spooky Gulch Slot Canyon

Mini rock arch

There is one tough obstacle at Spooky slot canyon that involves dropping about 10 feet down a narrow opening between boulders while holding a rope (pictured below).

The best way to do this is to put your back flat against the nearest rock wall, place your feet on the opposite wall, and then inch your way down while holding the rope.

Spooky Rope Boulder Obstacle

Exiting Spooky Slot Canyon

• Brimstone Slot Canyon

Brimstone Gulch is a fourth slot canyon you can visit on this hike if you’re still feeling energetic.

As you exit Spooky Gulch , walk east in the sandy wash for about 1 mile until you reach the entrance to Brimstone Gulch , which will be a wide side canyon on your left. From this canyon, walk another 0.7 miles to reach the Brimstone slot canyon.

This is a very tight slot frequented by rattlesnakes and occasionally holds a long pool of water, so be careful. The walls of this slot are picturesque, but darker and less colorful than Peekaboo slot canyon or even Spooky Gulch.

Brimstone Gulch eventually shrinks to a slot just 6 inches wide, at which point it becomes basically impassable and you’ll have to retrace your steps.  

Peekaboo & Spooky Map

Here is a map of the Peekaboo and Spooky slot canyons, with the main trail routes highlighted in red.

Not shown on this map is the Brimstone Gulch, which is a bit further east of Spooky slot canyon.

Peekaboo Spooky Map Trail BLM

Peekaboo & Spooky map showing the trail routes in red. There are two different places to start this hike: Upper Dry Fork trailhead or Lower Dry Fork trailhead.

Peekaboo & Spooky Trailhead Location

There are two different trailheads for this hike: Upper Dry Fork trailhead or Lower Dry Fork trailhead.

The Upper Dry Fork trailhead is a better choice in my opinion, because it takes you right through the Dry Fork Narrows (another slot) on the way to Peakaboo Canyon and Spooky, and that also means more time walking in the shade.

The Lower Dry Fork trailhead is slightly closer to the slot canyons, but it’s more exposed to the sun. It also takes an extra 15 minutes of driving on bumpy roads. If you start from this trailhead you can still visit the Dry Fork Narrows slot canyon, but it’ll require a bit of detouring.

  • Upper Dry Fork Trailhead: 37.479149121392624, -111.24137861032003
  • Lower Dry Fork Trailhead: 37.47726316541605, -111.22028826343339

The best place to base yourself for this hike is the town of Escalante, Utah, which is just 1 hour away and has plenty of camping and hotel options.

Peekaboo Spooky Upper Dry Fork Trailhead Sign

Sign at the Upper Dry Fork trailhead

Trailhead Conditions

The last part of the drive to the Peekaboo and Spooky trailheads involves 1 hour on a very bumpy back road (BLM200/Hole in the Rock Rd).

This is pretty much the bumpiest washboard road I’ve ever seen (absolutely atrocious), but I think you could do it in any vehicle as long as the road is dry and you take your time.

I wouldn’t try to come here after rain unless you have a capable vehicle. You can check the latest road conditions here .

When you arrive at either of the trailheads, there are vault toilets, information signs, and a trail map. Both of the Dry Fork trailheads were upgraded by BLM in 2020 .

As always, please remember to keep the trail clean, be considerate of other hikers, and leave no trace . Thanks and happy travels!  

Peekaboo Spooky Lower Dry Fork Trailhead Sign

Information signs at the Lower Dry Fork trailhead

Slot Canyon Safety Tips

Flash Floods. Always be aware of the weather forecast. Do not enter any slot canyon if rain is in the forecast, even if it's outside of your immediate area. Flash flooding can be very dangerous in a slot canyon.

Sunscreen. Even on a slot canyon hike, there are still plenty of parts on the trail where you'll be exposed to direct sun, so you might want sunscreen. A hat helps too.

Water. Try to pack at least 3-4 liters per person. In Utah, you should always bring more water than you think you need.

Map. It's a good idea to download an offline map of your hiking area on an app like Google Maps, that way you can keep using it to navigate or find your position even when you're out of reception. Getting lost in the desert can be dangerous.  

Where To Stay In Escalante

Canyons B&B

Canyons B&B

Slot Canyons Inn

Slot Canyons Inn

Inn of Escalante

Inn of Escalante

Escalante Yurts

Escalante Yurts

More Things To See Nearby

The Spooky and Peekaboo slot canyons are part of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah, so there are lots of great attractions nearby!

Another amazing slot canyon to check out in the area is the Zebra Slot Canyon , which is located just a 30 minute drive from this one on the same road.

There’s also the Devils Garden nearby, which is a neat family friendly spot where you can see some nice hoodoo rock formations without any hiking.  

Best Utah Tours

More utah slot canyon guides.

Thanks for looking! I hope you enjoyed this guide for the Peekaboo and Spooky slot canyons hike in Escalante, Utah.

Don’t forget to check out my complete Utah Slot Canyon Guide to see more of the best slot canyons in Utah!  

  • Utah Hiking Guide - Best Utah Hikes & Trails
  • Slot Canyon Guide - Best Slot Canyons In Utah

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Last summer we went to Brimstone canyon with my 2 firends , i never go Dry Fork, Peekaboo and Spooky ones, after i saw your photos i decide to go thanks.

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A Photojourney through Peek-A-Boo Gulch and Spooky Gulch

Julie Last updated: August 30, 2023 United States 67 Comments

Peek A Boo Spooky Slot Canyons

If you are looking for a super fun hike to do, put Peek-A-Boo Gulch and Spooky Gulch on your list. Just their names make this hike sound enticing.

These slot canyons are located in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument on Hole-in-the-Rock Road.  Getting here can be a mini-adventure, driving over 25 miles down a rough, dirt road through dry desert landscapes. And once you are here, two short, thrilling scrambles through some of the most fun slot canyons in the area awaits.

Peek-A-Boo Gulch has several sections of challenging rock scrambling, including a 12 foot climb just to enter the canyon. Spooky Gulch is one of the narrowest slot canyons around, only 10 inches wide in some spots! If you’re up for the challenge, these two slot canyons are tons of fun.

Table of Contents

Peek-A-Boo & Spooky Slot Canyon Hiking Stats

Distance: 3.5 miles Length of Time:  3 – 4 hours Difficulty: The trail to the slot canyons is easy to moderate. Hiking through Peek-A-Boo and Spooky Gulches can be challenging in spots. If you are claustrophobic, consider skipping Spooky Gulch. When to go: Any time of year, although expect very high temperatures in the summer.

Please practice the seven principles of Leave No Trace: plan ahead, stay on the trail, pack out what you bring to the hiking trail, properly dispose of waste, leave areas as you found them, minimize campfire impacts, be considerate of other hikers, and do not approach or feed wildlife.

Peek-A-Boo & Spooky Slot Canyons

Step-By-Step Trail Guide

Getting to the Trailhead

The trailhead is located on Hole-in-the-Rock Road in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

In the town of Escalante, turn onto Hole-in-the-Rock Road and reset your odometer. Drive 26 miles down the road to the Lower Dry Fork turnoff on the left hand side of the road. This access road can be rutted and uneven. One of our awesome readers recently wrote in with information that this road is now a gravel road that is suitable for standard vehicles (Prior to this, only high clearance vehicles could make it the entire 1.7 miles. Low-clearance vehicles would park halfway down the road and then you would have to walk to the trailhead). 

There is a second trailhead, the Upper Dry Fork trailhead, that is located at mile 24 on Hole-in-the-Rock Road. From this trailhead, it is a longer hike to get to Spooky and Peek-A-Boo slots. This trail takes you through the Dry Fork Narrows.

About Hole-in-the-Rock Road. Hole-in-the-Rock Road is a well-packed dirt and gravel road. You can drive this is a car, although an SUV is preferable and a 4×4 is ideal. We drove a Toyota Forerunner with 4×4. If it has been raining, Hole-in-the-Rock Road can be impassable, even with a 4×4.

Important Note:   Road conditions on Hole-in-the-Rock Road can change from year to year. In 2020, several of our readers reported that Hole-in-the-Rock Road is very rough and difficult to drive in a standard car. But more recently, we have been hearing that road is smooth and easy to drive. If you can, try to rent an SUV or a 4×4. 

The trail to Spooky Gulch and Peek-A-Boo Gulch starts at the Lower Dry Fork parking lot and trailhead.

Getting to the Slot Canyons

The trail starts on a plateau with great views of the entire area. The first part of the hike involves walking down a combination of slick rock and sandy trails.

First View

Make sure you follow the rock cairns (the stacked piles of stones). These cairns mark the trail.

Rock Cairns

The trail ends down at the sandy bottom of the Dry Fork wash. Straight in front of you is Peek-A-Boo Gulch. To the left is the Dry Fork Narrows. And if you follow the Dry Fork wash to the right you will get to Spooky Gulch.

Spooky Gulch Map

Should you do this Hike as a Loop or Out-and-Back?

You have two options to hike these two slot canyons. You can combine Peek-A-Boo and Spooky Gulches into one big loop or you can hike each slot canyon individually.

Hiking each slot canyon out and back is a little more fun, because you get to do them twice. Plus, they are both very short (only about a quarter mile long) so it doesn’t add much time to retrace your steps. However, if you are short on time or like the idea of doing one big loop, consider linking them together.

Tim and I hiked each slot canyon separately. We did Spooky Gulch first and then Peek-A-Boo Gulch. Both are tons of fun, but I think I liked Peek-A-Boo a little more. With the sections of rock scrambling, this one was just a little more challenging and fun for me.

If you want to make one loop, I recommend starting with Peek-A-Boo and ending with Spooky . There is a difficult climb in Spooky Gulch, but if you start in the back you get to go down this section, making it a little easier.

Peek-A-Boo Gulch

The hardest part of Peek-A-Boo Gulch comes right at the beginning. In front of you is a 12 foot climb just to gain access into the slot canyon. It can be a little tricky getting up this, but if you are hiking with friends, it sometimes helps to a get a little boost up from them.

Peek A Boo Entrance

Once in Peek-A-Boo Gulch, enjoy the view. These sandstone arches look amazing!

Peek A Boo Arches

As you hike up into the slot canyon, there are a series of smaller scrambles. Each can be challenging in their own way and the fun is trying to figure how to get through each obstacle.

Tim Climbing

This can be a little more difficult if it has recently rained. There may pools of nasty, stagnant water at each of these sections, something you definitely want to stay away from if you don’t want to walk around in soggy hiking shoes for the rest of the day.

As you climb up Peek-A-Boo Gulch, the walls get shorter and the rock scrambling sections get easier. Now it becomes a gorgeous walk through the ripples of the slot canyon.

Peek A Boo Gulch

At the back of the gulch, the trail climbs up onto flat ground. You can even look down into the narrow slot canyon. So, that’s why it’s called Peek-A-Boo Gulch!

Peek A Boo

From here, you can retrace your steps back through the slot canyon, or walk about 15 minutes on a flat, sandy trail to Spooky Gulch. It can take 30 to 45 minutes to hike this slot canyon out and back.

Spooky Gulch

Why is it called Spooky Gulch? This slot canyon is much narrower and much darker than Peek-A-Boo. If you are claustrophobic, do not even attempt this part of the hike. This slot canyon is so narrow at times that it made Tim and I a little anxious, and we never have issues with claustrophobia.

From the entrance of Peek-A-Boo slot canyon, it is about a 10 minute walk down the Dry Fork wash to get to Spooky Gulch. The entrance into Spooky Canyon looks like this.

Spooky Gulch Entrance

It starts off wide but wastes no time in thinning out. I recommend leaving your backpacks at the entrance, they only make hiking through these narrow spaces even more difficult (and this is another advantage to hiking each slot canyon out and back).

As you head to the back of Spooky Gulch, the canyon gets narrower and narrower and narrower. At times, we were almost dragging ourselves through the narrower spots.

Spooky Start

It is beautiful in here, and it’s also a lot cooler than in the sunny Dry Fork canyon.

Spooky Gulch

We were lucky during our visit in that we were the only ones in Spooky Gulch. I can’t imagine two way traffic in this extremely narrow space!

Towards the back of the canyon you will reach a dryfall of rock. This is very challenging to climb. You can climb it and continue on or turn around here and retrace your steps. It can take up to 30 minutes to hike this slot canyon out and back, depending on how far you go.

Dry Fork Narrows

While you are here, you can hike through the Dry Fork Narrows. This is another slot canyon but it is much wider that Spooky Gulch and rather unexciting after Peek-A-Boo Gulch.

What to Bring with You

Lots of Water. BLM recommends 4 liters of water per person.

Hiking Shoes. You can get by with a good pair of running shoes, but hiking shoes will give you more traction when rock scrambling through Peek-A-Boo Gulch.

Sunscreen. There is very little shade out here. The only time you will be out of the sun is the short amount of time you are in Spooky Gulch.

What to do Next

Visit Devils Garden , just 15 miles northwest on Hole-in-the-Rock Road, a 30-minute drive back towards Escalante.

Hike Zebra Slot Canyon , 19 miles northwest on Hole-in-the-Rock Road, a 40-minute drive back towards Escalante.

Explore 1, 2, or all 5 of Utah’s national parks. Learn more in our Utah’s Mighty 5 Travel Guide and Road Trip Itinerary.

If you like this hike, you’ll LOVE Little Wild Horse Canyon , which is in Utah, between Capitol Reef National Park and Moab.

Tours of Peek A Boo Canyon

If you want to hike Peek-A-Boo Canyon but feel more comfortable doing this with a guide, this small-group tour includes your transportation from Kanab and you hike Peek-A-Boo Canyon with an experienced guide.

Have you hiked Peek-A-Boo or Spooky Gulches? Do you have any advice for our readers? Comment below!

More Information about Utah

UTAH ITINERARY: If you need ideas on how to plan your road trip through Utah, check out our 7 to 10 day Mighty 5 Itinerary , our Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef Road Trip , and our 14-day American Southwest Itinerary.

GRAND STAIRCASE-ESCALANTE: In Grand Staircase-Escalante, hike Willis Creek, explore Devils Garden , and hike through Zebra Slot Canyon.

LITTLE WILD HORSE CANYON: Little Wild Horse Canyon is a narrow slot canyon that is a blast to hike. It can be visited while driving between Moab and Capitol Reef National Park. Goblin Valley State Park sits nearby so these can be combined in the same visit.

ZION NARROWS: There are two ways to hike the Narrows: top-down or bottom up . Journey down the Zion Narrows in photos and learn how to hike the Narrows top-down.

ARCHES NATIONAL PARK:  If you are short on time, check out our One Day in Arches National Park to learn the best way to spend your time here.

Planning a trip through the United States? Read all of our articles about Utah in our Utah Travel Guide in our United States Travel Guide.

Peek A Boo Spooky Slot Canyons

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Devils Garden Grand Staircase

Comments 67

Avatar for Mag

Hi, thank you for your article. We are planning a trip to go there end of March. Is a small SUV rental doable (and if allowed) on the dirt road to the peekaboo trailhead? Thank you!

Avatar for Julie

A small SUV should be OK, as long as it has good ground clearance. The road conditions vary from year to year, sometimes its great and other years we hear there is a lot of washboarding (I haven’t heard anything this year yet). Check the rental car terms and conditions because driving on a gravel road can void these terms. You will then be taking the rental car at your own risk. Cheers, Julie

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Hiking Peekaboo Slot Canyon and Spooky Canyon

  • September 19, 2021
  • By foxintheforest

Last Updated on October 31, 2023 by foxintheforest

For an uber-fun and easily accessible slot canyon experience, you’ve got to check out Peekaboo Slot Canyon and Spooky slot canyon in Escalante, Utah. This canyon duo features a little bit of everything – wavy slots, scrambling, narrow squeezes, and even an arch!

As one of the top slot canyons in Utah Peek a Boo canyon and its twin Spooky slot canyon deliver big on adventure. With just enough scrambling, this feels like a true slot canyon experience without all of the technical gear.

Located about 1 hour down the famous Hole in the Rock Road just outside of Escalante, these signature slot canyons are some of the most accessible canyons in Utah. In fact, I’ve watched this trail go from being some no-name blip on the map to a fully developed trailhead that no longer requires high clearance to visit.

Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to head out on many amazing Escalante hikes , but I keep coming back to Peekaboo and Spooky slot canyons. The are literally that fun. As someone who has hiked these canyons many times, you can guarantee you’re getting the best tips and tricks on the internet.

It’s my mission to empower you to visit Peek a Boo and Spooky slot canyons like a local, not a tourist. So here’s what you need to know to have a safe and fun-filled romp through this unique canyon system.

About this guide to Spooky Slot Canyon and Peekaboo Slot Canyon

If you’re looking for expert advice on hiking both Peekaboo slot canyon and Spooky slot canyon, then you’re in the right place. Inside this mega-guide you’ll find:

  • The best time to visit Peekabo and Spooky slot canyons
  • Practical info about the hiking route including difficulty, duration, kid and dog friendliness, a map, and more
  • Directions to the Peek a Boo and Spooky Slot canyon trailhead
  • Step-by-step guide for your hike
  • Tips about staying safe in slot canyons
  • What to bring
  • Nearby camping
  • Additional adventures nearby

peekaboo slot canyon

When is the best time to visit Peek a Boo Slot Canyon and Spooky Gulch?

The best time to hike in any slot canyon is during dry, clear-weather forecasts. Remember, slot canyons, including Peekaboo and Spooky slot canyons, kill people every year due to unexpected flash floods. Use a tool like weather.gov to check the weather (just type in the slot canyon) for several days, including the day you plan to hike.

Pro Tip : You can also get the latest weather.gov forecast at the Escalante BLM Field Office in downtown Escalante.

If there’s a clear forecast, you can hike these magnificent slot canyons year-round. However, the best times to hike are in the spring or fall months. Weather is typically a little bit drier and less windy in the fall, but both seasons provide mild temperatures perfect for desert adventures.

These are also busy times, so be sure to start your hike before 8 am if you want to avoid the crowds. (Yes, this trail does get crowded and I’ve seen a tremendous increase in people accessing these canyons over the years).

Winter is another excellent time to visit if you don’t mind the cold (you’ll have plenty of solitude). Summers should be avoided. It’s extremely hot and during the summer months, monsoon rains are common making flash flood hazards particularly dangerous.

Practical Information

It’s no secret that Peekaboo and Spooky slot canyons are some of the best hikes in Utah . As such, it gets crowded here. If you want to beat the crowds, be at the trailhead prior to 8 am.

Also, be sure to hike Peek a Boo slot canyon and Spooky Gulch starting with Peek a Boo slot canyon. There are several reasons for this. First, Peek a Boo Canyon starts with a bit of a rock climb – it’s easier to go up this than down. Secondly, most people travel the canyons this way, so you will avoid pesky traffic jams in the extremely narrow Spooky slot canyon.

Other important info to highlight includes:

Total miles: around 4.5 miles round trip if you include a trip to the nearby Dry Fork Narrows (more on that later) Elevation Gain : 633 feet Difficulty : easy to moderate if you’ve done some slot canyons before. If this is your first one, it’ll be a challenge so be prepared. Estimated Time: 3 to 4 hours. Experienced parties can do it in 2. Red Tape : SUV is recommended to reach the trailhead. It is a long, bumpy road with plenty of washboard, bumps, and ruts. If it’s recently rained, the road can remain muddy for days and require a high-clearance 4WD vehicle.

Pro Tip: There are actually two Peek a Boo slot canyons in Utah. The other one is outside of Kanab and is a completely different hike. Don’t confuse the two!

How Long Does It Take to Hike Peek A Boo and Spooky Slot Canyons

The time it takes to complete the Peek a Boo and Spooky slot canyon hike largely depends on your ability. Most people should budget 3 to 4 hours for this hike. Plan for more time if you have kids or you want to take a lot of photos.

Keep in mind, the trail is not well defined once you leave Peekaboo Slot Canyon, so having a GPS downloaded in advance is essential.

I’ve done this hike several times and it’s taken me anywhere from 2 to 3 hours, but I move very fast and have ample climbing experience.

spooky gulch

How Long is the Peakaboo Slot Canyon Hike?

The Peekaboo slot canyon is typically done with its sister – Spooky slot canyon. This is thanks to an 18-foot climb into Peekaboo slot canyon that makes for a difficult, class 5 downclimb many people won’t be comfortable with. Since you should do both canyons, the route is about 3-ish miles round trip. Adding on a trip down the narrows of nearby Dry Fork Canyon adds an additional 1.7 miles to the day.

Is Peekaboo Canyon Free?

Yes! There is no cost to enter Peekaboo slot canyon. However, you will be driving about an hour down a washboard-ridden, bumpy road that has plenty of tire ruts.

Map of Spooky Slot Canyon and Peekaboo Slot Canyon

The trail for Spooky Slot Canyon and Peekaboo Slot Canyon is a lollipop loop. You’ll start at a high point at the trailhead and wind your way down to a drainage basin. From here you can see the entrance for Peekaboo Slot Canyon.

The route takes you up Peek a Boo slot canyon, then down Spooky Canyon back to the trail that goes towards the parking lot. Dry Fork canyon is also nearby and worth checking out after you get back to the trail junction.

peekaboo gulch

How to Get to Peekaboo Slot Canyon and Peek a Boo Canyon

Head south on BLM Road 200, more commonly known as Hole in the Rock Road just southeast of Escalante. Now begins the tedious, bumpy romp down about an hour of rocky washboard.

Each year this road erodes more and more and it’s gotten quite bad in recent years. It’s highly recommended that you drive at least a crossover SUV. Passenger cars will have to plot their route carefully and pay attention to the weather.

I’ve done this road both in an Acura RDX (dry conditions, not an issue) and a Toyota 4Runner (wet and would have been impassable without a vehicle this capable). Both were suitable, especially in dry conditions. We’ve even seen a Tesla on this thing (yikes), but I wouldn’t recommend it.

What’s worse, is if it has rained recently, the road is so eroded it often pools water for several days. The last time I was here it was snowing and the road was like a slip and slide with ruts. Regular 2WD cars were stalled out and it’s a remote place, help isn’t coming quickly. Tows out here costs around $1,500.

Eventually, you’ll reach a signed turnoff for the Spooky Gulch and Peekaboo Canyon trailhead. The road used to be high-clearance only to the upper trailhead, but now it’s been smoothed over with gravel. There is ample parking at the trailhead and vault toilets.

Pro Tip : Download navigation maps and your GPS file well in advance – there is no cell service out here. Verizon occasionally has a bar or two, but I wouldn’t rely on it.

Are Peekaboo Canyon and Spooky Slot Canyon Kid Friendly?

Overall yes. Plenty of young kids enjoy Spooky gulch and Peek a Boo canyon as one of the best hikes in Kanab . However, this route might not be suitable for all children – especially smaller kids who cannot reach up and climb on their own.

There is an 18-foot climb to access Peek a Boo Canyon that will require you to reach upwards and likely isn’t suitable for babies or toddlers. It is the toughest section of the hike and it’s at the entrance to the canyon.

Also, Spooky canyon has one fixed line with about an 8 to 10-foot drop that requires you to walk down a small boulder and stem (putting your feet on the canyon wall and the boulder) in order to access Spooky canyon. By the time you reach this point, there is no easy return so keep that in mind.

Can I Bring My Dog to Spooky and Peekaboo Slot Canyons?

Technically dogs are allowed in this area. However, this route is absolutely not suitable for pets. The 18-foot climb is not dog friendly, nor is the roped drop. Even if you can fit your dog in a bag, you’ll for sure have to hold your pack out in front of you in Spooky slot canyon. The narrowest sections of this canyon are only around 12-18 inches wide and require you to walk sideways with your bag out in front of you.

Do I Need to Hire a Guide?

Hiring a guide for Spooky and Peekaboo slot canyons is not required. In fact, if you’re a relatively confident hiker, you understand how to navigate, and you aren’t squeamish about a little bit of climbing and scrambling (using your hands for low-angled climbing) you’ll be just fine without a guide.

However, if this is your first slot canyon experience and you don’t have any climbing experience, then hiring a guide is a great way to still explore this incredible landscape.

peek a boo slot canyon

How to Reach Peek a Boo Slot Canyon

The hike starts on top of a plateau. The wide, obvious trail slowly winds its way down towards a basin. Eventually, you’ll reach a slickrock drainage you’ll work your way down. From here you’ll spill out onto a small, sandy trail.

Pro Tip : There is no shade at all until you enter the canyons, so plan accordingly.

After walking through a wash you’ll reach the main drainage. Now it’s time to get oriented.

The canyon to your left with the big boulder in front of it is Dry Fork Canyon. It’s a gentle sandy bottom walk that frequently has big puddles. Save this one for the way back.

In front of you is a wash that seems to have not much going on. But just to the right of that you will see a big red rock wall with a small pool (usually has water) in front of it. This is the entrance to Peek a Boo slot canyon and your next destination.

You can see there is a (hopefully) dry drainage that continues to head right or east for a few minutes until a few social trails branch out north. This eventually takes you to the narrows of Spooky Slot Canyon.

peekaboo and spooky slot canyons

Pro Tip: There are a few signs along the way (more keep getting added), but you’ll want a GPS route downloaded to navigate.

Navigating Peek a Boo Slot Canyon

The biggest obstacle in Peek a Boo slot canyon is the imposing 18-foot-high climb that is required to enter the canyon. There are a few pockets cut into the rock that make the climbing a little easier, but it’s certainly a challenge for the uninitiated.

peek a boo slot canyon entrance

Pro Tip : Wear hiking shoes or boots with sticky rubber. Tennis or gym shoes don’t have the traction to make the climb feel cozy.

Once you’re in you’re immediately greeted with amazing rock formations, including an archway. This transportation to another world continues, with a few scrambly moves requiring you to stem (use friction to place one foot on each canyon wall) and scramble your way to the top of the canyon.

peek a boo gulch escalante

Once you reach the top of the canyon, you’ll be dumped back out into the desert. Your goal is to hike about 10 minutes to the right, following a vague path. Keep in mind, this path comes and goes, making it challenging for newbie hikers.

Here’s where the route gets tough. There are social trails and cow paths everywhere. Unfortunately, several people have built cairns (rock piles) just for the sake of it, which actually confuses hikers – please don’t do this or let your kiddos do this!

You’ll want a GPS to work your way around the never-ending sand and rock behind Peekaboo slot canyon in order to reach Spooky Slot Canyon.

Hiking Spooky Slot Canyon

Eventually, the sand will give way to a narrow canyon entrance. This is Spooky slot canyon (also called Spooky gulch) and boy does it live up to its namesake!

The canyon starts off a little wide and quickly gets more narrow and deeper. You’ll for sure be stemming here (walking along the canyon walls with one foot on each wall). There are several steep drops, most of which can be navigated by stemming.

About halfway in you’ll reach a very steep drop with a chockstone and a hand line. Simply use the knotted handline to lower yourself into the canyon to the bottom.

spooky gulch canyon utah

There are several spots where this canyon is so narrow, you’ll have no room to walk forward. You’ll need to side shuffle with your pack. Now, I’m a fairly skinny gal and I had very few issues.

I took my friend on his very first slot canyon hike here. He’s a bigger, plus-sized guy. He was able to make the squeezes. If you find yourself getting stuck there is usually a stemming work-around. Simply back up until you have a little more room and send it upwards.

spooky slot canyon

Pro Tip : The first time I did this hike, I actually got so frightened that I had entered the wrong canyon and I wouldn’t be able to get out. This is where I learned that GPS devices do not work in narrow canyons. Yes the walls are very steep and yes the canyon squeezes to be almost impossibly narrow, but you’re on the right path!

Eventually, Spooky gulch begins to widen again and you’ll be dumped into a wash with a couple of social trails. This wash joins up with the main wash you encountered in the beginning at a T-like intersection. Head right back past the entrance to Peek a Boo slot canyon and retrace your steps back to the car.

Dry Fork Slot Canyon

Dry Fork is an optional adventure that’s certainly worth checking out if you’re here. It’s an easy walk down a sandy-bottom narrow section of the canyon. Typically, there are standing pools of water in here, but you can travel down this slot canyon for as long as you would like.

The narrows eventually widen. Simply come back the way you came once you’re finished exploring.

Tips for Hiking in Slot Canyons

First and foremost, it’s important to note that slot canyons can be dangerous places if you’re not prepared. Peekaboo and Spooky slot canyons are in a remote area that’s difficult to access. Be prepared to be on your own out here. If you need rescue it’s going to take a minute. Here are a few desert hiking safety tips to keep in mind.

Always check the weather . Always. Slot canyons, especially Spooky gulch and Peekaboo canyon, are very prone to deadly flash floods. Never hike in a rainy forecast. I’ve seen these canyons spit water after a wet snowstorm – it didn’t look inviting!

Dress in layers. Slot canyons can be cold places with sometimes up to 40-degree temperature swings inside a canyon. They see little light, so always pack a few extra layers.

Wear pants. The desert has a lot of prickly plants and the rock can be rough on the skin. Pack pants to avoid unwanted scrapes and cuts.

Bring plenty of water and salty snacks . You’ll want at least 2 liters of water per person for this hike. Have water in the car too. There are no services for many miles so you’ll need to bring in all of your supplies.

Wear sturdy footwear . You will be using your feet to climb up rocks. Sandstone can be particularly slippery, so having footwear with good traction is essential.

Bring sun protection . There is no shade on this hike until you get into the canyon. You’ll want ample sun protection (hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, and a sunshirt). Especially if you’re hiking in the summer.

Leave no trace . Pack out all trash (this includes human waste like poop and toilet paper). There are vault toilets at the trailhead, but bring the proper equipment to pack it out.

Don’t bust the crust. The raised, bumpy, black soil of the desert is a living organism called cryptobiotic soil. It takes a while to grow and is the lynchpin for stopping erosion and giving much-needed nutrients to the ecosystem. hike on sturdy surfaces like rock when possible and walk around cryptobiotic soils.

Wear clothing you don’t care about. Sandstone is abrasive and ripping clothing is common. Wear older stuff you don’t mind getting torn up.

Safety SOS buttons do not work in canyons . If you go in, be prepared to get yourself out. Safety devices can’t send a signal in canyons this narrow.

What to Pack for Peek a Boo and Spooky Slot Canyons

Wondering what to bring on your Peekabo and Spooky slot canyons hike? Here’s a list of the essentials:

  • A small streamlined hiking pack (20L is sufficeint). A big, bulky pack will be in your way and may make Spooky Canyon impassible. I highly recommend the REI Flash .
  • Small hiking first aid kit
  • 2L of water per person
  • Sunscreen, sunhat, sunglasses, sunshirt
  • An extra layer
  • Extra pair of socks (you can leave these in the car, but it’s helpful if the canyon is wet)
  • salty snacks
  • GPS with the route downloaded for offline use
  • Sturdy footwear

Camping Near Spooky and Peekaboo Slot Canyons

There are plenty of dispersed, free camping areas near Peek a Boo gulch. Simply drive down one of the many offshoot roads to find campsites. Note that these sites have zero amenities. You are expected to pack it in and pack it out.

Wanna learn how to find amazing free campsites and camp off the grid? You can check out the free camping mini-course.

Nearby Attractions

Grand Staircase Escalante is an absolute adventurer’s paradise. This area features plenty of incredible adventures if you have a 4WD vehicle to reach them. If you have time head to Kanab too. A few notable nearby areas worth checking out include:

  • Zebra Slot Canyon and Tunnel Slot Canyon
  • Egypt Canyon (some techinical ability required)
  • Reflection Canyon on Lake Powell
  • Coyote Gulch

Other Utah Hiking Resources

Wanna hike in Utah like a pro, not a tourist? These guides are designed to give you the secrets to enjoying the hottest places in Utah without the crowds.

  • How to Beat the Crowds at Bryce Canyon
  • Hiking Little Wildhorse Slot Canyon
  • Canyonlands vs Arches National Park What’s Right for You?


Looking for a unique Utah experience? You've got to check out Peekaboo Slot Canyon and Spooky slot canyon in Escalante, Utah. This canyon duo is one of the best hikes in Utah if you're up for a true desert adventure!

Meg Atteberry

Meg is a long-time Colorado local and outdoor industry professional. She's spent the last 15 years hiking, climbing, mountaineering, and canyoneering all over Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and Nevada in search of the best views. She's written for Outside Magazine, REI, Backpacker Magazine, and appeared on the Weather Channel.

Let’s connect!

Meg Atteberry standing on a mountain sticking her tongue out

Meg aka Fox is a 30-something who's born to explore. Toddler mom, queer, and neuro-spicy her favorite things to do are climb in the alpine and camp in the desert. Her mission is to get you out on your greatest adventure.

The American Southwest

Spooky Gulch

Sensuous passages

Topographic Map of Spooky Gulch

Topo map of Spooky Gulch


Boulder in the narrows

Route Description for Spooky Gulch

Knobbly rocks

Spooky Gulch - Similar Hikes

Brimstone Gulch

Bryce Canyon Country

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spooky gulch canyon utah

Peek-a-boo and Spooky Gulch Slot Canyons

The escalante river and some of its tributaries wind through the grand staircase escalante national monument, creating a maze of intricate canyons, perfect for exploring. while many of the escalante river slot canyons are accessible from glen canyon national recreation area and the southern tip of lake powell, hole-in-the-rock road offers vehicular access from escalante to several popular slot canyons in the dry fork area..

The Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument is a haven for canyoneering. With beautiful, challenging slot canyons, backcountry trails, and more it’s important to be mindful of where you are going. Be aware of road conditions and don’t take your car if it’s not suitable for handling rugged, sometimes muddy conditions. Always check the weather prior to entering a slot canyon and before descending the Hole in the Rock road. It’s always a good idea to hire a local guide when learning about a new area. And don’t forget to bring plenty of water! No one wants to end a trip early because of dehydration.

Peek-a-boo and Spooky Gulch

Peek-a-boo Gulch and Spooky Gulch are within minutes of each other, about 26 miles south of Escalante on the Hole-in-the-Rock Road. Individually, the distance to Peek-a-boo Gulch is two miles roundtrip and Spooky Gulch is just over three miles roundtrip. Combining the two slot canyons creates a 3.5-mile loop. Both slot canyons are only moderately difficult but still require sure footing, some rock-scrambling agility, and, in some cases, the ability to squeeze through tight spaces.

Hiking Peek-a-boo Gulch

Peek-a-boo Gulch slot canyon is the recommended starting point. The hike to this particular slot canyon leads through the sandy Dry Fork Wash to the mouth of Peek-a-boo, a narrow, twisted slot canyon about a quarter-mile long. Hand and foot holes are carved into a 10-foot high vertical rock wall to help your ascent. At the top of the wall, a 3-foot-deep pothole is often filled with water but skilled scramblers will manage to navigate it without getting wet. The highlight of the hike is the last 100 meters of the slot, where interlocking swirls, fins, and arches are cut into the red Navajo sandstone. The route continues up and out of the canyon. From the end of the trail, hikers can choose to retrace their steps back through Peek-a-boo or follow the cairns south to the mouth of Spooky Gulch slot canyon. Peek-a-boo Gulch is a fun, rock-scrambling slot canyon experience in contrast to Spooky Gulch’s deep, dark twists and turns.

Hiking Spooky Gulch

Spooky Gulch isn’t for the claustrophobic, but it is a thrilling experience. The canyon walls are narrow enough in some places that an average-sized adult will have a hard time passing through. The walls begin closing in merely 300 feet in, requiring hikers to turn sideways and squeeze between the slot canyon walls. The bottom openings are typically a bit wider for those willing to crawl and scoot. Hikers have occasionally gotten stuck in Spooky Gulch so be aware of your girth before squeezing into tight spaces. A section of large boulders near the upper end of the canyon and an extra narrow squeeze through a 5-foot vertical crevice require advanced skill and more caution. The end of Spooky Gulch opens up to a wide, sandy bed. The floor of this slot canyon is typically dry and sandy although pools of mud and water may form after it rains.

Seasonality and directions

Peek-a-boo and Spooky are accessible year-round, but be cautious of mud, water and weather. Never hike the drainages during rain. The combined hiking time for both canyons is about 2-4 hours. To reach Peek-a-boo Gulch and Spooky Gulch from Escalante, take Scenic Byway 12 to Hole-in-the-Rock Road. Drive south for about 26 miles to Dry Fork Road and head northeast to the trailhead parking area. The Dry Fork turnoff is a rugged, sandy road best suited for four-wheel-drive vehicles. At the end of Dry Fork Road, an overlook sits 300 feet above the canyons. A short descent leads to Dry Fork’s sandy bed. The trailhead for Peek-a-boo Gulch slot canyon is straight ahead, toward the north, and the trailhead to Spooky Gulch slot canyon is a bit farther down to the east.

spooky gulch canyon utah

Slot canyon safety

Within Bryce Canyon Country, sandstone slot canyons are formed by the flow of water. Winter snow-melt or irregular rain storms will accumulate water that then passes through these narrow crevices. Combine that with erosion from the wind and over time slot canyons form, growing wider and deeper.

The Bryce Canyon region of Utah receives very little moisture on an annual basis causing the soil to not absorb much water. When rain falls or snow melts quickly the water can accumulate quickly, following the path of least resistance. This is what causes flash floods with water levels potentially reaching 40 feet or higher inside a slot canyon. It’s not just water that comes rushing through a slot canyon, but rocks, wood, and debris come with it. A flash flood is a rare occurrence but one should never enter a slot canyon on a bad weather day.

Besides flash floods, water can also accumulate in the dark recesses of a slot canyon. Depending on the depth of the canyon the sun may not reach these dark pockets of water and the temperatures of the water, even in summer, can be quite cold.

It is vital to prepare prior to exploring a slot canyon. Some slot canyons are short and quite shallow — the easiest and safest to navigate. The longer and deeper the slot canyon, the more the preparation and gear required for a safe and enjoyable experience. Rappelling gear, wetsuits or drysuits, proper footwear, sufficient food, water, and other supplies should be carefully considered for a technical slot canyon experience.

Lower Dry Fork Trailhead

Bryce Canyon Country

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Utah's Adventure Family

Peek-a-Boo and Spooky Slot Canyons

Post author avatar

  • Posted in Free Activities / Hikes
  • Updated January 1, 2023

One of the most spectacular slot canyon hikes in the entire world is in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. This is actually two separate slots combined into one hike. The first is called Peek-a-Boo and the second is called Spooky. We are going to share all the details of our experience hiking Peek-a-Boo and Spooky Slot Canyons to help you know if this hike is right for your family.


Words of Caution

First, let me give a bit of a warning. Everything we read online said that this was easy and very doable for families. Even the ranger at the Visitor’s Center said, “Oh, easy. No problem even for the three year-old.” We disagree. If you have children under 8, it is our recommendation to avoid Peek-a-Boo and Spooky. This distance on this hike might not seem daunting (a little under 4 miles), but the hike is strenuous, and it is easy to get lost and run out of water.

All the roads in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument are nasty. High-clearance vehicles won’t help with the washboards, but they will keep you from dragging the oil pan through the rocks. This is a bit of a concern on Hole-in-the-Rock Road, but it becomes a huge concern as you near the trailhead.

After 26 miles on Hole-in-the Rock Road, there is a turnoff to the left for the trailhead (the right goes to Batty Caves ). The road goes for just under a mile and arrives at a small parking lot. If you have any doubts about the clearance of your vehicle or your driving ability on rough roads, park here. A very rough, uneven road with a 6 inch rocky lip lies between you and the trailhead. This road runs nearly a mile and is listed as 4WD only. We made it in our van, but Mom was too frightened and holding on too tightly to take any pictures. After a half mile, you’ll see a second parking lot, this one full of trucks.

At the far end of the parking lot, you will find the trail head sign.

Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon

The trail leads down to the bottom of the canyon, and it is quite steep, and there is a bit of scrambling, but it is accessible to most active people. When you reach the canyon floor, you’ll follow the wash for about a quarter mile to the entrance to Peek-a-Boo slot canyon. You will see a slot canyon just before Peek-a-Boo. This slot canyon is called Dry Fork, and it isn’t very narrow so most people skip it. After passing Dry Fork, you will walk just a few minutes to the Peek-a-Boo slot. You can’t miss it because there is a 10 foot climb into the canyon and someone has carved steps in the sandstone.

Peek A Boo & Spooky 2

This is the first bit of scaling that you have to do, and it isn’t difficult, though if you’ve brought the under eight years old crowd, it will be a minor challenge. After the climb, there is a beautiful view up the narrow slot, and you can see arches spanning the corkscrewing canyon.

Peek A Boo & Spooky 9

I won’t attempt to describe every obstacle that you encounter, but there are many as you climb Peek-a-Boo canyon. One of them is a small shallow pool of water (only about 6 inches). Because of the lay of the rock, it is nearly impossible to stay dry. We did find a way, but it required Dad straddling the pool and lifting all of our family up into a small notch and then pulling himself up. Even though you’re going to get your feet wet, you want solid shoes with comfortable socks. Later in the summer, this water is probably dried up.

Peek A Boo & Spooky 11

Peek-a-Boo canyon is very narrow, slimming down to about 16 inches at its narrowest point, which forces you to turn sideways as you pass through. The real fun of this canyon is the obstacles that you’ll have to conquer to get to the top. It’s only about a half mile through the canyon, but it’s not comparable to a half mile on the racetrack. It’s strenuous to climb, pull, duck, and scramble upward. After much climbing, you’ll finally summit and find yourself on top of the butte.

Peek A Boo & Spooky 13

Spooky Slot Canyon

When you reach the top of Peek-a-Boo, turn to the right and follow the few cairns strewn along the trail. This is more difficult than it might seems as trails run all around and there are not many stone markers to follow. A friend of ours got lost and wandered for several hours in this area. Toward the end, we stopped by one cairn and couldn’t see the next. It was further to the left than where we had been walking so be careful and go slowly. Finally, you’ll find yourself at the top of Spooky slot canyon.

Peek A Boo & Spooky 19

Spooky is much narrower and darker than Peek-a-Boo. You’ll also encounter the obstacles going down, and they aren’t quite as technical. Still, there are several extremely tight spaces that close down to fewer than twelve inches! There is no way you’re shimmying through with a backpack, and you’ll wish you’d taken that dime out of your back pocket before you get through the narrowest part.

Peek A Boo & Spooky 27

The major obstacle in Spooky is a drop of about 10 feet. There are several holes that lead down, but the one you want is on the far left side of the canyon as you face downward (see the video). If you’re an adult, you should easily be able to put your hands on the sides and lower yourself to a shelf at the halfway point, and then drop down the last few feet from there. If you’ve got kids, you’ll need to shuttle them with another adult, handing them down through the hole, then climbing down and handing them again. It isn’t easy, and it isn’t particularly safe, either.

Spooky travels for about the same half mile as Peek-a-Boo, and it is breathtaking. We’ve been in other slot canyons, but nothing as narrow and amazing as this one. At one point we passed someone coming up the canyon. The only way this was possible is that they straddled up the walls and we passed below them.

Peek A Boo & Spooky 25

When you come out of Spooky, it is easy to get lost as trails lead in several directions. We turned right, and that is a mistake. You need to turn left and head back to the wash. Once you reach the wash, head right. You will follow this wash for a while, and then come to a cairn that marks the trail that leads you back to Peek-A-Boo. This trail winds back around past the beginning of Peek-a-Boo and eventually to the parking lot.

Peek A Boo & Spooky 31

The roundtrip distance for this hike through Peek-a-Boo and Spooky Slot Canyons is a little under 4 miles. The miles are strenuous, but they are amazing. We don’t want to discourage you from hiking this amazing trail, but we do want you to know what you’re in for if you try it with kids. Here are a few other Family-friendly slot canyons if you feel like this one might be too much.

Tips for Families:

  • If you have younger kids, try hiking just Peek-A-Boo. We have heard of people hiking this canyon up and back down again. It’s a much shorter hike, and you won’t have to cut across the open, sunny slick rock to get to Spooky. You would still need to assist them in climbing up and down obstacles in Peek-A-Boo.
  • Hike in the morning or evening. We were there in the heat of the day which made it harder to enjoy since we were hot and thirsty.
  • Take LOTS of water. It is hot in this area in the summer, so come prepared with plenty of water.
  • Pick up a map at the Visitor Center. A nice man helped us find our way back when we got a little lost, because he had a map. We assume he picked it up at the Visitor Center. It would have helped us avoid the wrong turn.
  • Wear small backpacks. We had to carry ours through Spooky. Definitely don’t plan on bringing a huge child carrier through here. It won’t make it!
  • The climb out is steep and will take awhile, so plan accordingly on your itinerary.
  • Take your time and enjoy. Our boys still talk about this hike! They loved the skinny slot canyon. It is very memorable, and we can’t wait to try it again in 5 years when they can climb through on their own.


Our video does not show the entire hike, but a few bits and pieces of the adventure. Hopefully it will show you all the fun we had, and some of the challenges!

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Leave a reply cancel reply, this post has 6 comments.

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I’m 6 feet 220 lbs and size 38 waist–not very flexible…strong and have good hiking stamina….will I be able to fit through the tight areas?

Getting stuck doesn’t sound fun.

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You will be just fine. It is narrow, but not enough that you would get stuck. The toughest park is climbing up and down some obstacles, but you said you are strong and in shape, so you should handle those just fine.

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This was SUPER helpful! Thank you so much for taking the time to type this up.

Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I am glad the information helped you!

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What a great review. Loved seeing your adventure as we older folks will not be visiting these slots. Maybe a dinner show is our speed. :). Bless the joy of your youth. Go Dad.

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Peekaboo and Spooky Gulch is one of our favorite hikes in the Monument. We live in Garfield County and never tire of this hike. I love that you have video of your experience. A few more tips, wear clothes you can hike easily in. Levis don’t cut it. We also cut off old tube socks and used the tops for elbows as they can get scraped up when lifting yourself up and climbing down, excpecilly for out of shape adults. Take a 15 ft nylon rope to help anyone who is afraid of heights when climbing the wall into Peekaboo. Just tie knots in the rope at various places and let them climb using the knots to grab for security while someone secures the rope at the top. Learn how to stem the walls. Sometimes you run into people hiking in the opposite direction. You can climb or stem the walls, especially in Spooky, to let them pass under you. Kids love doing this. Don’t go if the chance of rain is more than 30%. There is a danger of flash flood through these canyons. Follow the cairns. They are there for a reason. We took a 4 month old on this hike in a small pack and my girls did this hike at 4 and 5yrs old. They still love taking their high school and college friends. Teens, adults and kids all love this hike.

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Hiking Guide: Peek-A-Boo Slot and Spooky Gulch

April 24, 2021 Updated: April 27, 2021 by Max Karren

Peek-A-Boo Slot and Spooky Gulch

Peek-A-Boo Slot Canyon and Spooky Gulch are among Utah’s finest non-technical slot canyons. The canyons are adjacent from each other and are usually done together, often as a loop hike.

Dry Fork Trail provides access to both Peek-A-Boo and Spooky, which are found off of Hole in the Rock Road in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Kim squeezes her way through Spooky Gluch

Quick Facts

  • Distance:  4-6 miles
  • Hike Time:  3-4 hours
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: 600 feet
  • Fee:  Free
  • Dogs:  Dogs are allowed but slots aren’t suitable
  • Difficulty:  Easy approach, slots are moderate

Hiking to Peek-A-Boo and Spooky

In May 2012, Kim and I hiked Peek-A-Boo Slot and Spooky Gulch.

Max (the author) in Peek-A-Boo

In my opinion, the best way to do it is to enter Peek-A-Boo from the south, then bear right at the junction found at the end of the slot. From there, bear right and continue south down Spooky, then exit and bear left to continue down the sandy wash back to Peek-A-Boo’s entrance.

From there, continue back to Lower Dry Fork Trailhead where you started.

On the approach to the lower trailhead, before you turn left off of Hole In The Rock Road, make sure to air down your tires. Most vehicles will have no problem descending the sandy road but its notorious for getting people stuck on the way out.

You can avoid it altogether by parking in the dirt lot on the right side of BLM Road 252. This only adds about 1 mile to the hike total.

Kim scrambles in Peek-A-Boo

From Highway 12, follow the unpaved Hole in the Rock Road for 25.9 miles and turn left onto BLM Road 252. 0.8 miles in, there is a dirt parking lot on the right side. Unless you have 4WD and are prepared to air down your tires, park here. If you’re confident you can back up the sandy road, turn left and continue to the lower trailhead (Dry Fork Trailhead).

Get Directions

  • Earth Trekkers – A Photojourney through Peek-A-Boo Gulch and Spooky Gulch
  • Utah’s Adventure Family – Peek-a-Boo and Spooky Slot Canyons

Spooky Gulch

More Great Hikes On Hole in the Rock Road

  • Reflection Canyon
  • Golden Cathedral
  • Zebra Canyon

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Max's early childhood was spent in the shadow of the Wasatch Mountains in Northern Utah and his teenage years in the red rock desert of Southern Utah. Thanks to his dad and the Boy Scouts, he was able to spend a lot of time hiking at an early age. He completed his first 14-mile day hike at age 7 in Zion National Park and was backpacking by age 11. He's now a full-time nomad and travels the American West in an RV with his wife Kim and daughter Maia, doing hikes along the way.

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Peekaboo, Spooky, & Brimstone Slot Canyon Map – 2 Deaths on the Loop

updated: November 27, 2020

spooky gulch canyon utah

A super-fun scramble through a network of slot canyons in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, off of the Hole-in-the-Rock Road

Quick Facts

MAP: Trails Illustrated PERMITS: none DESIGNATION: Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument (now BLM) BEST SEASONS: year-round, though summer is hot and beware of flash floods in July and August! DISTANCE: 3.5 mile loop – Brimstone is 3 extra miles ELEVATION: trailhead 4,960ft – low point 4,600ft ACCESS: dirt roads to the trailhead – high clearance is recommended, though passenger cars sometimes can get close enough DRIVING DIRECTIONS: Hike begins at the Dry Fork Trailhead , off Utah’s Hole in the Rock Road. From Escalante, UT, drive east 5 miles to the Hole-in-the-Rock Road. Turn right, and travel 26 miles down the wide, well-graded,  super-washboardy dirt road. Turn left onto BLM road 252 (signed for Dry Fork). Continue for 1.7 miles (or as far as you can) to the trailhead. ROUTE: Fairly trafficked through narrow canyons with 2 easy climbs – overland routes marked with cairns – pay attention, it’s easy to lose your bearings in this confusing landscape.

This loop hike generally takes about 3 to 4 hours to complete.

Dogs are allowed out here, but our furry friends can be especially unwieldy in these narrow canyons. As always, use a leash and pick up after them. It’s strongly recommended to use a full-body harness (as opposed to a simple collar), to help them up and down the difficult sections.

Politics – Grand Staircase Reduction

Technically, this area was removed from Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and returned to the BLM by President Trump. For more details about how and why this happened, see this 2019 article in the Washington Post .

Here’s a map that details this loop hike, including Peekaboo Slot Canyon, Spooky Gulch, and Brimstone Gulch. You can right-click on it to view the map as large as possible.

spooky gulch canyon utah


This loop up PeekaBoo Gulch and down Spooky Gulch is an incredibly fun, 3.5-mile scramble through some of the best slot canyons in southern Utah. Some caveats include:

  • a 15-foot, 3rd class climb to enter Peekaboo Canyon
  • a 7-foot downclimb in Spooky Gulch
  • claustrophobic, skinny conditions in Spooky Gulch
  • 27 miles of dirt road that are impassable when wet
  • hot summer weather
  • high flash-flood risk in July and August
  • growing popularity – not especially off the beaten track

If nothing above sounds especially daunting, go for it and enjoy!

spooky gulch canyon utah

Driving Times and Road Conditions

Specific driving directions are detailed in the Quick Facts section at the top of this page.

For a broader perspective, note that the trailhead is about 2 hours one-way from Bryce Canyon National Park . From Torrey (Capitol Reef), it takes about 2 hours and 20 minutes. Note that if you travel east on Route 12 beyond the junction with Hole-in-the-Rock Road, the popular Calf Creek Falls is only an additional 14 miles.

In dry conditions, the Hole in the Rock road can be negotiated by a brave soul behind the wheel of a passenger car. The surface progressively gets worse after turning left onto the Dry Fork Road, making high-clearance necessary (Subaru Outback, Hyundai Sante Fe, etc). The last mile or so requires a true 4×4 vehicle, but at this point you can get out and walk the remaining distance to the trail.

If you park at the junction of Hole in the Rock Road and the Dry Fork Road, you’ll have to walk an extra 1.7 miles to the trailhead. This effectively makes the round trip distance of the hike about 6 miles – still totally doable.

spooky gulch canyon utah

Descending into the Canyons

Beyond the trailhead sign, you’ll follow a set of cairns (rock piles) down into the wash that’s immediately in front of you.

Once you reach the bottom, you’ll turn right and follow the sandy wash to its junction with a deeper canyon with even more sand. This canyon is the Dry Fork , technically a distant upper arm of the popular Coyote Gulch canyon.

If you turn left here, you’ll be going up Dry Fork Canyon into the Dry Fork Narrows (On the map provided above, the Dry Fork Narrows are located immediately under the phrase “Climb into Peekaboo”). Though this is an interesting excursion that’s certainly worth your time, it’s not why you came.

Turn right to find the entrance to Peekaboo Canyon.

spooky gulch canyon utah

Entering Peekaboo

Take a good, long look at the above photo, depicting the 15-foot climb into Peekaboo. It’s easy to miss (I missed it the first time)!

After you make the right turn into Dry Fork, you’ll only walk about 100 yards (certainly less than a quarter mile) before the entrance to Peekaboo appears on your left.

Its narrow mouth hangs above the sandy floor of Dry Fork, and it does not have the telltale characteristics one would expect to see at the mouth of a canyon (like a delta of debris).

spooky gulch canyon utah

After the climb up, it’s a straightforward jaunt up the canyon. Enjoy!

Leaving Peakaboo

Once Peakaboo Canyon begins to open up, keep your eyes open to find a way to climb up and out of the canyon, on your right. It’s best to wait until you see a large cairn.

There are a few different ways to do this, and at least two cairned tracks that connect to Spooky Gulch. As you head up and over to Spooky, use your sense of direction and just remember that Spooky runs generally parallel to Peekaboo. If you see a cairn, go to it, try to locate the next one to the east, and so on.

My experience on the connection:

We climbed out of Peekaboo at the very first opportunity, and headed directly toward Spooky. This brought us over to Spooky at a place where the canyon was too deep, and it was impossible to climb into it. We had to follow Spooky to the left (upstream) to eventually find an entrance.

spooky gulch canyon utah

Spooky Gulch

As you get into Spooky Gulch, be prepared to get up close and personal with the sandstone! You’ll find it necessary to remove your backpack and squeeze sideways through its tightest sections.

PRO TIP: If you’re hiking with a small group, it’s a good idea to share just a single backpack for the duration of the hike. You’ll be passing it back and forth a lot, and it makes things easier to have only one pack.

As you descend Spooky Gulch, at one point you’ll encounter what may appear to be an impassable chockstone pourover. Fear not, with a little exploration you’ll find it to be just a 7-foot downclimb. If you’re with a group, the first person down can help the others.

spooky gulch canyon utah

Once you’re out of the enclosed confines of Spooky Gulch, you’ll once again find yourself in the main Dry Fork Canyon. You’ll be hanging a right and going back up this canyon, passing the entrance to Peekaboo and retracing your steps to your vehicle. The sensible way to meet the Dry Fork from Spooky is to follow the sandy bottom of the wash, but there’s also a shortcut route immediately to the right once you exit the Spooky narrows.

Brimstone Gulch

If you have the extra time and energy, it’s a worthy excursion to turn left when you exit Spooky Gulch and continue to Brimstone Gulch. This can add up to 3 miles (round trip) to your day, depending on how far you go up Brimstone.

To find Brimstone Gulch, continue about 0.75 miles down the main Dry Fork Canyon from its confluence with Spooky Gulch. You’ll go through two decent sets of narrows along the way, though they’ll be less spectacular than the ones you just experienced.

Brimstone Gulch will enter from the left. Again, the wise course of action is to follow the distinct bottom of the canyon to the obvious confluence, but you may shortcut this via a 0.1-mile use-trail.

Explore up Brimstone Gulch as far as you can. After about a mile, you’ll come to place that’s even more narrow than Spooky Gulch, too tight for mere mortals like you and me.

spooky gulch canyon utah

As it’s always sad to say, this hike has a death toll.

Here’s some details on two specific deaths from the last decade. Both were caused as a result of disorientation, dehydration, and heat stroke when hiking in the mid-summer heat.

  • July 2013 – Cindy So, a 35 year-old medical student from Denver, was hiking here with a friend. They got lost, and found themselves wandering for at least 2 extra hours in the summer heat. She collapsed and ultimately passed away before anyone could revive her.
  • June 2017 – Lane Friedman, a 62 year-old male from Alabama, succumbed to the heat after getting lost in the canyons with his wife and two children. Friedman had left his family, heading up a hill to “get his bearings.”

On a lighter note, it’s not only humans that get into trouble out here. In December of 2014, a poor cow was famously stuck in Peekaboo Canyon. Getting it out of there proved to be quite a project!

spooky gulch canyon utah

My Additional Photos and Trip Notes

Haley and I hiked this loop on November 19, 2017. We did it as a day trip, beginning and ending at Ruby’s Inn, near the entrance to Bryce Canyon National Park. We were spending a few days at the inn, hiking nearby attractions like the Fairyland Trail and Riggs Spring Loop.

spooky gulch canyon utah

lower Dry Fork Canyon

spooky gulch canyon utah

Related posts:

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About Jamie Compos

I'm the guy behind DownTheTrail.com. I love the outdoors, and the Grand Canyon is my favorite destination. Be sure to subscribe to my newsletter (at the bottom of the page), or else I'll slip a rock into your backpack when you're not looking.

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November 15, 2020 at 1:52 pm

I read this article after hiking the Peekaboo and Spooky Gulch canyons two weeks ago. This article nailed it. The only difference is we continued in Peekaboo until the end. This was great because the cairn trail markers from that point to the entrance of Spooky were easy to follow.

Great article, amazing photos. The canyons are a challenge to photograph so kudos!

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November 15, 2020 at 4:47 pm

Thanks for the comment Holly!

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Spooky Gulch & Peekaboo Gulch Slot Canyons

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USA, Utah, Escalante, Peek-A-Boo and Spooky Slot Canyons

USA, Utah, Escalante, Peek-A-Boo and Spooky Slot Canyons

Martin Benik/age fotostock

These fun slot canyons are just under 30 miles from the town of Escalante down the unpaved Hole-in-the-Rock Road. Easy day—or even half-day—adventures, the canyons are carved from the iconic red Navajo sandstone and are usually completely dry. There’s some light scrambling involved, but nothing kids can’t handle. However, the walls get so narrow at some points that most adults need to turn sideways to get through. For the ultimate experience, connect the two slots by going up one and down the other.

Information on this page, including website, location, and opening hours, is subject to have changed since this page was last published. If you would like to report anything that’s inaccurate, let us know at [email protected].

Zebra Slot Canyon Utah, USA Wave formation made by creek in sand stone


13 Best Slot Canyons in Utah to Hike Through

There are countless slot canyons in Utah you can explore and in this post I want to share with you 13 of them, specifically ones that are easy to find and close to other iconic spots in the area so you can see even more there.

Note: I’m also going to be covering which of these 13 are easy slot canyons in Utah you can explore.

There are a lot of dangers involved when hiking in slot canyons and in the case of Utah, there are probably 1,000s of them, most in remote areas and/or places where you can easily get stuck, lost, caught in a flash flood or worse. This is why this list mainly focuses on the most popular (and mostly easy) slot canyon hikes in Utah. Despite that, any slot canyon hike has risks and you need to know them before you go.

Here is the list of the 13 best slot canyons in Utah:

  • Willis Creek slot canyon
  • Wire Pass slot canyon
  • Buckskin Gulch slot canyon
  • Peekaboo and Spooky Gulch slot canyon
  • Zebra slot canyon
  • Red slot canyon
  • Kanarra Falls slot canyon
  • Joint slot canyon
  • Jenny’s slot canyon
  • Cottonwood Narrows slot canyon
  • Singing Canyon
  • The Narrows

Willis Creek slot canyon ( easy ):

willis creek utah slot canyon hikes

Willis Creek slot canyon is one of the most easy slot canyons in Utah I have explored, but at the same time one of the most fun and scenic too. This 5+ mile hike involves you entering a gorge/wash area in Grand Staircase Escalante , and then walking on a pretty flat sand/rock surface for 3 miles before turning back. Half of this hike will take you through several slot canyon spots and the tightest one is only about 2-3 feet.

  • Location: Willis Creek trailhead .
  • Things to know: The trailhead is easy to find but the only real caution I would suggest is that the road getting there is pretty rough. Just make sure you have an AWD when you go. The hike is very easy, but the 5+ mile road before you get to the trailhead isn’t.
  • Permit required? No

Wire Pass slot canyon ( easy ):

wire pass utah slot canyon hikes

To my knowledge, Wire Pass slot canyon is one of the most popular hikes of that kind in Utah. It may also be one of the best hikes in Utah overall and I can personally attest that it’s a 5 star hike in my experience. You will also have to drive on a very rocky road to get to the Wire Pass Trailhead and also get a permit online before you go. The hike itself starts in a dry river wash and goes into a slot canyon, has you walk down stairs and into another, bigger slot canyon called Buckskin Gulch. Buckskin Gulch is an advanced hike itself, but the Wire Pass trail is very easy to explore and it’s only about a 3 mile hike in and out.

  • Location: Wire Pass Trailhead  
  • Things to know: This slot canyon hike also requires a dirt road drive to reach so ideally have an SUV or better for it. This area is also very close to the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument .
  • Permit required? Yes . It’s just a parking fee and you can only get it online.

Buckskin Gulch slot canyon ( hard ):

buckskin gulch utah slot canyon hike

Since I just mentioned how Wire Pass slot canyon connects to Buckskin Gulch, let’s talk about why this is even on the list:

It’s actually the most popular slot canyon in Utah and because it also goes into Arizona, it is in the top 3 for slot canyons in that state (the top one might be Antelope Canyon ). You can hike Buckskin Gulch several ways and most of them will have a moderate or higher difficulty. The more moderate way to do this hike is start at Wire Pass trail above and once it connects with Buckskin Gulch, turn left (north), walk a few miles into that, then exit out of it from the north, or head back through Wire Pass. If you want to do the full Buckskin Gulch hike, that would require a lot of experience, and even a backpacking trip that I would only recommend if you are experienced.

  • Location: Wirepass Trailhead
  • Things to know: Remember that this is a very long slot canyon (20+ miles). It’s recommended to start at one point and have someone pick you up at the other. Wirepass Trailhead is also one of several entrance points into Buckskin Gulch (the most popular).
  • Permit required? Yes , for the parking lot and if you plan to camp in Buckskin Gulch.

Peekaboo and Spooky Gulch slot canyons ( hard ):

peekaboo and spooky gulch utah slot canyon hikes

This slot canyon hike in Utah is actually 2 different hikes connected together for a 5 mile loop hike. Peekaboo slot canyon is considered moderate in difficulty, but Spooky Gulch is generally considered hard, which is why if you do both, it’ll be a difficult but very fun hike. This is one of the most popular trails in Grand Staircase Escalante and in a remote part of it (but you will usually see cars parked there). Peekaboo slot canyon can get tight but most people should be able to hike it. It’s Spooky Gulch where the slot canyon gets very tight in spots where you may have problems. I’d only do this if you are OK with that.

  • Location: Upper Dry Fork trailhead
  • Things to know: This is one of the best hikes in Grand Staircase Escalante (and possibly the 2nd or 3rd most popular slot canyon in Utah), but it’s also very challenging and might be difficult for people with claustrophobia.

Zebra and Tunnel slot canyon ( moderate ):

zebra slot canyon utah hikes 04

Zebra and Tunnel Slot canyons are actually a great alternative to Peekaboo and Spooky gulch because it’s very close to them and it’s an easier hike with less climbing involved. It’s a shorter several mile hike (in and out) that is more often known to have water in it and you may get wet when you hike through it.

At the same time, there might be climbing involved in that you may have to use both your hands and legs to cross certain spots is this slot canyon. Zebra Slot canyon is actually very beautiful and is a great Antelope Canyon alternative (if you intend to one day visit that spot in Arizona). Tunnel Slot canyon is also very beautiful as well, but you can elect to do one or both of them (they are close to each other too).

  • Location: Zebra and Tunnel Trailhead
  • Things to know: Other than the hike being tight in spots, do note that there’s a good chance you may have to get wet during it.

Red Slot Canyon ( moderate ):

red slot canyon utah hike 01

This is actually also called Peekaboo Slot Canyon but depending on which listing you look at, it can be identified as Red Canyon. Anyway, this is a type of slot canyon hike which you can drive to, but it requires a 4 mile off road type experience to reach it, or you can elect to just hike that 4 mile road, then walk the 1 or so mile slot canyon after. The Red Slot Canyon is very scenic and one of the most popular hikes in Kanab Utah.

  • Location: Red Canyon trailhead . 
  • Things to know: If you elect to do the long hike to the canyon, it may be pretty boring so it’s ideal to rent a 4×4 (if you don’t already have one) and just drive to the area.

Kanarra Falls slot canyon ( moderate ):

kanarra falls utah slot canyon hike

This is one of the most popular hiking spots outside of Zion National Park . It’s a mix of trail hiking that leads into a slot canyon and inside that slot canyon is a waterfall, ladder walk and just amazing views of the canyon overall. You will get wet from this hike! I did this hike in the winter time and had to wear waterproof socks .

I also had to break through ice with my trekking poles but it was worth it because there were no people there and this hike is typically very crowded. But overall I really enjoyed this hike and highly recommend it! The Kanarra Falls trail is awesome and if you can check it out when there’s few people, do it! The hike is going to be about 5 miles in total.

  • Location: Kanarra Falls trailhead .
  • Things to know: This hike is super crowded most seasons (not winter) so get your Kanarra Falls permit at least 1 month beforehand.
  • Permit needed? Yes . You can get it online and it’s only for the parking fee.

Joint slot canyon ( moderate ):

canyonlands slot canyon hike in utah 01

The Joint slot canyon is a popular hike you can access through the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park . The hike is about 2 miles to reach the slot canyon, then back. Attached to this hike are other popular trails, one of which is the Druid Arch, one of the most famous arches in Utah , but the hike to get there is about 9 miles one way! The slot canyon hike in this case is pretty easy to walk through and also very beautiful.

  • Location: Joint trail Utah .
  • Things to know: The hike to the slot canyon is easy but if you keep following it, you can also check out the Druid Arch (6 mile hike total).
  • Permit needed? No , but you have to pay to access the national park.

Jenny’s slot canyon ( easy ):

jenny slot canyon utah 03

Jenny’s slot canyon is one of the most popular hikes in a city called St. George Utah which is right outside Zion National Park. What’s so ironic though is that it’s mostly the locals who do it and that’s because so many people don’t even stop at St. George to check out the hikes. They usually just head straight to Zion and miss this, which is only an advantage to you since you’ll just have less people to annoy you on the hike.

  • Location: Jenny’s Canyon trail
  • Things to know: This slot canyon is located inside Snow Canyon State Park and it’s one of many awesome hikes there!
  • Permit needed? No , but you need to pay a fee to get into the state park.

Cottonwood Narrows slot canyon ( easy ):

cottonwood narrows utah slot canyon hike 09

This slot canyon isn’t far from Willis Creek at least on a map, but it is still probably one of the most remote (and popular) slot canyon hikes you’ll find on this list. I would only recommend this hike if you don’t mind a very long and bumpy ride to get there. If you don’t, then this is a very fun and easy slot canyon hike to try.

  • Location: Cottonwood Narrows Utah .
  • Things to know: This is also a part of the Grand Staircase Escalante region but you will need a car to get the trailhead. The road here is a bit dirty, but it’s OK to drive to the trailhead and on the Cottonwood Narrows road on a regular vehicle too.
  • Permit needed? No

Singing Canyon ( easy ):

singing slot canyon hike in utah 03

This is the shortest slot canyon hike on the list and possibly in Utah but it’s extremely easy to hike, isn’t difficult to reach and is close to the Red Canyon area of Utah which has many sights, hikes, campgrounds and more. This slot canyon is only about 100 feet and it is beautiful in there, and if you are someone who isn’t interested in tight slot canyon hikes, then this is a perfect, simply one to explore. Singing Canyon is right by the road (one of the best scenic drives in Utah ) so you don’t have to hike far into it.

  • Location: Singing Canyon .
  • Things to know: I highly recommend exploring the scenic drive near Singing Canyon (Burr trail).

The Narrows ( moderate ):

the narrows utah slot canyon hike 05

The most popular slot canyon hike in Utah is probably the Narrows which is in Zion National Park. I actually didn’t know it was a slot canyon because of how wide it is, but it is known to be that. Anyway this is the second longest slot canyon hike in Utah (Buckskin Gulch is first) and you’ll need to get into Zion National Park first, then drive up to the trailhead to it. You will have to get into mostly knee deep water when you hike here and at times, waist deep water too.

This is also a very popular and scenic hike across the world and if you come here during the summer, it will be packed. Winter time, you’ll find way less people, but because the water will be freezing cold, you will need to wear a dry suite (that’s how I did this hike).

  • Location: Temple of Sinawava
  • Things to know: This is a very long hike that I recommend starting super early (7 miles each way).
  • Permit needed? No, but you have to pay to get into Zion NP.

The Subway:

the subway utah slot canyon hike 03

This is definitely going to be one of the most scenic and best slot canyon hikes you’ll ever explore but there are 2 things to know about it:

  • First you have to win a lottery entry to get there because it’s so popular.
  • Second, the hike is tough and requires you to be in very remote parts of Zion National Park to reach.

The Subway hike is amazing though and if you can actually try it, definitely do it!

  • Location: Left Fork Trailhead
  • Things to know: Because it’s remote you will want to have navigation skills and use a map (GPS) to reach this area.
  • Permit needed? Yes and you can only win it via a Subway hike lottery here .

Common questions about Utah slot canyon hikes:

easy slot canyons utah 04

Where are the most slot canyons in Utah?

Most of the slot canyons in Utah are around the San Rafael Swell area.

Are there slot canyons near Moab?

There are no slot canyons near Moab. The closest is about 20 or more miles from it.

Are there slot canyons in Zion?

Yes the most popular slot canyon hikes in Zion are the Narrows and Subway hikes.

I will be adding more slot canyon hikes to this list and if you have your own recommendations of simple ones (no rappelling involved), let me know!

spooky gulch canyon utah

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19 Incredible Slot Canyons in Utah & How to Visit Them

Utah slot canyons are some of the best slot canyons in all of the United States. Unlike the  slot canyons in Arizona , which often require booking a tour, you can hike many of the slot canyons in Utah all on your own. If you are looking to explore some of the best slot canyon hikes in Utah, you’ve come to the right place.

We recently went on a road trip around Utah and Arizona in our RV and we visited many of these incredible slot canyons below.

We put this article together to tell you all about our favorite slot canyons, how to find them, what to expect, as well as lots of useful tips for exploring them!

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission (for which we are very grateful for) at no extra cost to you. Thank you for the support!


Looking for an incredible adventure?  These tours are a great way to experience a slot canyon without having to worry about how to get there, getting lost, or inclement weather.  

Some of them are impossible to do on your own, so going on a tour is the only way to experience these incredible slot canyons.

  • Peekaboo Slot Canyon UTV Tour – On this awesome tour , you will drive UTVs through the Utah desert and then hike to Peekaboo Slot Canyon. Your guide will make sure you’re comfortable driving and teach you about the history & geology of the area.
  • Via Ferrata in Zion National Park – On this thrill-seeking tour , you will hop on ATVs and drive out to Cave Lake Canyon where you’ll climb up the iron path before rappelling 180 feet back down the canyon.
  • Canyoneering in Zion National Park – Another  awesome adrenaline-pumping tour  where you’ll get to have a real slot canyon adventuring experience. On this tour, you’ll hike through Lambs Knoll, a beautiful slot canyon that has various obstacles you’ll have to scramble over, skinny slots to squeeze through, and plenty of rappels to go down.

How to Use This Guide

To make it easy to plan your slot canyon hike, we’ve divided this guide into sections based on regions.

We’ve included everything you need to know about hiking these amazing slot canyons like how to get there, the hike length, and the best places to stay nearby.

Click on any section below to jump to that part of the article:

  • Slot Canyons in/near Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
  • Slot Canyons in/near Zion National Park
  • Slot Canyons near Capitol Reef National Park
  • Slot Canyons near San Rafael Swell Recreation Area
  • Slot Canyons near Moab

Map of the Best Slot Canyons in Utah

This map shows you where to find the best slot canyons of Utah so you can easily plan a road trip to the region or complete multi-day hikes. We’ve even included the locations of our favorite hidden slot canyons in Utah, which are a little trickier to find.

The Best Slot Canyons in/near Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument is located between Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef and is an easy area to get to via Scenic Highway 12.

Here you’ll find some of the best hikes in the state. There are plenty of great slot canyons in Escalante to explore, and we’ve listed our favorite ones below. Several hikes in the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument frequently show up in the top 10 slot canyons in Utah lists, and for good reason!

Where to stay:  Escalante Yurts

1. Zebra Slot Canyon

Zebra Slot Canyon in Utah

This beautiful-looking canyon gets its name from its striped walls. It’s one of the shortest Escalante slot canyon hikes. Finding the entrance can be challenging if you haven’t done a bit of advanced research.

There’s a slight uphill walk on the way back to the parking lot and this hike typically takes between three and four hours. This depends, of course, on how often you stop to take photos, which will probably be quite often!

  • Hiking Distance:  5.3 miles out and back
  • Location:  Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.
  • How to Get There:  From Escalante head East on UT-12 E/W Hwy 12 for about 5 miles. Then turn right onto Hole In The Rock Rd and continue on for about 8 miles, the parking area will be on your right, but the trailhead is on the other side of the road.
  • Useful Things to Know:  It can be hiked at any time of the year, although summers are very hot. Depending on recent rainfall, there can be standing water at the bottom of the canyon.

The  Bureau of Land Management Visitors Center  in the town of Escalante will have up-to-date information on the water levels inside the canyon.

2. Peekaboo Gulch / Spooky Gulch

Peekaboo Slot Canyon

Although Peekaboo Slot Canyon and Spooky Gulch are two separate hikes, most people make a full day of it and hike them as an epic loop over a full afternoon. These are two of the most popular southern Utah slot canyons for adventure lovers thanks to the fact that you have to scramble and shuffle your way through the natural waves and contours of the canyon.

It’s a beautifully scenic hike through red and purple rock with some moderate scrambling down cliffs. However, there are hand and foot cut-outs in the rock face to help you.

Peek-A-Boo is a mix of slot and corkscrew canyon, and Spooky Gulch is a narrow slot canyon.

  • Hiking Distance:  3-mile loop
  • Location:  Dry Fork area of Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument
  • How to Get There:  From Highway 12, head down Hole-in-the-Rock Road for 26.3 miles. Go as far as Dry Fork road and you’ll find the trailhead. It’s worth noting that after rain, this area can become impassable, even if you have 4-wheel drive because of the clay-like dirt road.
  • Useful Things to Know:  Spooky Gulch and Peek a Boo Canyon, Kanab don’t require any special gear, so they’re great for hikers of all skill levels.

There are a few tight squeezes here, so if you’re claustrophobic, some parts of this trail may not be for you. Also, parts of Spooky are very narrow, so make sure you are comfortable with this before heading out! It can be quite hard to turn around, especially if there are other people behind you.

It’s also worth noting that there have been sightings of Great Basin rattlesnakes in the canyons, so be mindful as you hike.

3. Little Death Hollow

Slot Canyon in Utah Little Death Hollow

Little Death Hollow is one of the more challenging slot canyons in southern Utah mostly due to its length (it’s 21 miles out and back).

An experienced hiker could complete this in a full-on day, but if you would rather move slower, it’s better to split it over two days and camp along the trail.

You don’t need any technical skills or gear to visit this beautiful Utah slot canyon. At the upper end of the canyon, near Wolverine, you’ll find large amounts of petrified wood. This area is The Wolverine Petrified Natural Reserve. It’s not uncommon to find ten to twenty-foot-long petrified logs.

Dogs are allowed on this trail, and if you have older children there are plenty of formations for them to explore.

  • Hiking Distance:  21 miles out and back
  • Location:  Between Capitol Reef National Park and the Escalante River
  • How to Get There:  Drive 19 miles east of Boulder, on the Burr Trail road. Drive another 19 miles, then turn right onto Wolverine Loop Road. Continue for 12 miles to find the Little Death Hollow trailhead.
  • Useful Things to Know:  You can get a free backcountry camping permit when you arrive at the National Monument by visiting the BLM office in Escalante.

On the trail, you can camp anywhere, except the trailhead area. Also, keep in mind that it’s against the park rules to take any of the petrified wood.

4. Burr Trail Singing Canyon

The Singing Canyon is by far one of the best Utah slot canyons for seeing something a little different!

As the name suggests, people come here to sing. Why, you might ask? The Singing Canyon offers the most incredible acoustics thanks to the vertical 80ft walls. And it’s something you have to check out if you’re in the area.

Not only is this one of the most easily accessible slot canyons in Utah, but it’s also a super iconic landmark. The high-walled, bright red rock is one of the most popular attractions in the region, Regardless of whether you’re interested in hiking or not.

It’s a flat, 10-minute walk, which makes it accessible to everyone, and one of the best easy slot canyon hikes in Utah. It’s also dog-friendly if you have your little four-legged buddy with you.

  • Hiking Distance:  15-minute round-trip hike
  • Location:  Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
  • How to Get There:  Drive for 11 miles east on Burr Trail Road. This is a paved road, so you don’t need a 4×4 to access this slot canyon. You’ll find the parking area on the left side of the road, it’s unmarked, so keep a lookout for the paved pullout. Parking here is free.
  • Useful Things to Know:  Unlike lots of the other slot canyons on this list, the Singing Canyon is a great option to visit if you’re not good with enclosed space. You won’t feel claustrophobic here at all.

There are plenty of shaded areas all around this canyon, so make a whole day of it and find a relaxing spot for family picnics. There are no fees to enter Burr Trail Road or Singing Canyon.

5. Willis Creek Canyon

Willis Creek Canyon Slot Canyons in Utah

Wills Creek Canyon follows a waterway and while you hike this narrow canyon, you’ll have to hop from one side of the creek to the other.

Although a little more challenging than Burr’s Trail Singing Canyon, this is another one of the easiest slot canyons in Utah to hike and is a lot of fun for the whole family, whatever their hiking ability. Kids in particular love this trail.

The trail starts with a route that leads through bushes and trees before dipping down into Willis Creek. From here, the trail follows alongside the creek. It starts reasonably wide but gets narrower as it goes on.

  • Hiking Distance:  3 miles out and back
  • Location:  Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
  • How to Get There:  The closest town is Cannonville. From the town, head south on Kodachrome Road, this road eventually becomes Cottonwood Canyon Road. Then turn right onto BLM 500, which is also called Skutumpah Road. Look out for the signpost pointing you in the correct direction. Follow the road for 5.8 miles, the car park will be on your right, and the trailhead is on the opposite side of the road to the car park.
  • Useful Things to Know:  It’s worth noting that Skutumpah Road is a dirt road. Most of the year, you will be able to access it with a regular car. During wet seasons you will need a 4×4.

Because the trail follows the creek, you’ll be skipping over it numerous times. Wear suitable shoes that you don’t mind getting wet.

Planning a trip to the American Southwest?  Check out these other articles that will help you plan your trip:

  • Upper vs Lower Antelope Canyon- Choosing Which to Visit
  • The Complete Guide to Slot Canyons in Arizona
  • Hiking in Sedona: 12 Incredible Must-Do Sedona Hikes
  • Top 10 Best Zion National Park Airbnb Rentals
  • Arches National Park Sunset: Top 8 Spots You Can’t Miss!

The Best Slot Canyons of Utah in/near Zion National Park

Have you ever wondered if there are any slot canyons in Zion National Park? If so, you’ll be glad to hear, yes there are! There are actually dozens of great slot canyons in and near Zion National Park. They have been formed by the Virgin River and its tributaries.

If you’re headed to Zion National Park, here are our favorite slot canyon hikes.

Where to stay:  Zions Tiny Oasis

6. Zion Narrows

Zion Narrows Slot Canyons Utah

The Narrows is one of the most famous slot canyons Utah has to offer. This hike follows the North Fork of the Virgin River and features 2,000-foot-high vertical walls. The Zion Narrows is also one of the region’s premier canyoneering experiences.

Although this trail starts as a paved trail towards the northern end of Zion Canyon, it becomes narrower until the water covers all of the canyon floors.

You can hike upstream here during the summer and autumn months when the water levels are low. Even when the water is low, you will still have to wade through parts that are waist and even chest-deep.

  • Hiking Distance:  15.6 miles, point to point. Although, you can choose to hike however much you want of the Narrows and just turn around when you’re ready.
  • Location:  Zion National Park
  • How to Get There:  The starting point for hiking upstream and through the Zion Narrows is at the old parking lot at the Temple of Sinawava. To get to the trailhead from here, take the free Zion shuttle bus, which picks you up at the visitor center by Watchman Campground.
  • Useful Things to Know:  Make sure you watch for weather warnings, as flash floods caused by sudden storms can happen. Each day, the flood danger level is posted by NPS at the start of the trail. Also, take extra care when you’re crossing between the sand banks as parts of the Narrows have a fast current and a rocky river bed.

At the parking lot, there is drinking water available as well as additional signage boards with information.

You don’t need a permit for day trips up the Narrows, just the standard park entry fee. If you’re planning on staying overnight then you will need a permit, only a limited number of these are issued each day.

Permits are only released if the river flow is less than 120 cubic feet per second (CFS) and you’re not allowed more than 12 people in a group in the Narrows.

7. Kanarra Creek Falls

Slot canyon hiking Utah Kanarra Falls

Kanarra Creek is one of the more family-friendly slot canyons near Zion National Park. It’s also an incredibly photogenic canyon. It’s easy to get to and the hike can be customized to make it easy or a little more challenging.

Water flows here year-round, however, it’s best visited during the warmer months because you will have to wade through the stream in many places. The first hike, to the base of the first waterfall, is easy. For a more challenging route, then you can climb the falls to continue up the canyon.

  • Hiking Distance:  3.5 miles loop
  • Location:  Kolob Canyons section of Zion National Park

How to Get There:  It’s located just east of Kanarraville. Follow 100 North and you’ll see a parking lot after four blocks. The trailhead is next to the kiosk.

  • Useful Things to Know:  You’ll need to purchase a permit to hike this trail. You can do this at this website or the kiosk at the trailhead. It’s also worth noting that ticket sales are limited to 150 hikers per day. Because Kolob Canyons is one of the best slot canyons Utah has to offer, tickets can sell out during the busy season and on weekends, so plan accordingly.

8. The Subway

slot canyon hikes utah the subway

The Subway is a semi-technical slot canyon Utah hike that combines wading, swimming, scrambling, and climbing. Most of the trail follows a stream that goes into holes that are deep enough that you do have to swim.

The hike is similar to the famous Narrows, that we wrote about above, just that The Subway is more intense because some of the climbing is down waterfalls and you’re scrambling over boulders.

Keep in mind this is a technical canyon and ropes are helpful to help you down the waterfalls, so only attempt this hike if you have canyoneering experience.

  • Hiking Distance:  9.5 miles point to point
  • How to Get There:  The hike begins at Wildcat Trailhead. You will find this on the Kolob Reservoir Road, it’s about 15.3 miles north of a town called Virgin.
  • Useful Things to Know:  Although serious rappelling isn’t necessary, you might find it useful to bring ropes to lower packs, and help people over the cliffs. Do not attempt unless you have prior experience with using ropes in this way as it can be dangerous.

Most people canyoning here do it from the top down as it’s too difficult to do it bottom up.

You must have a permit to hike The Subway, which you can pick up at any Zion visitor center.  Take drinking water, as it’s not available at the trailhead, and it’s good to know that there is a shuttle at the exit of the trail to take you back to the car park.

9. Red Hollow

Red Hollow is a very popular area for birding and hiking, it’s also an easy hike so it’s great for younger walkers. Dogs are allowed on this trail but must be on a leash.

The trail features narrow and vertical-walled passages that go through deep red rocks. Most of this area is hikeable. The canyon’s dry most of the year although, after heavy rainfall, there can be a fair amount of water at the bottom, turning a pleasant and easy hike into a more challenging one.

  • Hiking Distance:  3.3 miles out and back
  • How to Get There:  The trailhead can be a little tricky to find, there’s a definite lack of signage. Head north on Hwy 89, then turn right onto 100 E, turn right when you see a school called Valley Elementary. Follow the road that runs to the side of the school to find the trailhead.
  • Useful Things to Know:  Not only is this a great trail for hiking, but it’s also popular for mountain biking.

If you’re into birdwatching or wildlife, there’s an abundance of it in this area ranging from woodpeckers, minks, foxes, owls, and coyotes.

10. Spring Creek

Spring Creek is an easy hike running through an incredibly photogenic slot canyon. If you’ve never done canyoning before then this is a good place to start as it’s relatively easy, and in an area that’s easily accessible. It’s also a good route for mountain bikers.

One of the great things about this canyon is that it’s not so well known and gets overlooked by most hikers, so if you’re looking for a bit of a hidden gem that isn’t too taxing, then this is a great choice.

  • Hiking Distance:  5.2 miles out and back
  • Location:  Kolob Canyons area of Zion National Park
  • How to Get There:  It’s located about 0.8 miles south of the town of Kanarraville, which is just south of Cedar City. To get to the trailhead, take the I-15 to the Kanarraville Exit, and follow the main routes to the south edge of town. Keep going until you see 400 South Main Street, then take the route towards the cliffs for about 0.82 miles. Here you’ll find the parking area and trailhead.
  • Useful Things to Know:  You’ll find a small flowing river from this canyon most of the year, so follow this into the narrow section for about 1.5 miles. There probably will be boulders and small dry falls that you will have to climb over or maneuver around. Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash.

11. Buckskin Gulch (Via Wirepass Trailhead)

Utah Slot canyon Buckskin Gulch.jpg

Buckskin Gulch stretches for more than 12 miles across Utah; it’s considered the longest slot canyon in the world. If you’re looking for great, slot canyons near Kanab, Utah, this is it!

While hiking through all of Buckskin Gulch may not be for everyone there is actually a shorter easier way to see this beautiful slot canyon.

If you start from the Wirepass Trailhead on House Rock Valley Rd you can cut your 12-mile hike down to about 5 miles!

This hike will take you through the beautiful Wirepass Slot Canyon and bring you right up to Buckskin Gulch. From there you can hike as far as you would like through Buckskin before heading back the same way you came in.

You will need to purchase a day-use pass to park & hike in this area. Make sure to purchase the pass before you head out to the trailhead as cell service isn’t reliable in this area. Passes can be found  here  and are issued by Recreation.gov.

  • Hiking Distance:  5.6 miles roundtrip
  • Location:  Utah/Arizona border, near Kanab
  • How to Get There:  The road to the trailhead can get a little rough at times. While a 4-wheel drive vehicle isn’t always needed, be sure to pay attention to the road conditions as you’re driving in and know the limitations of your vehicle.
  • Useful Things to Know:  Just like hiking any other slot canyon, the danger of flash flooding is very real. Even if it looks like nice weather where you are, storms happening miles away can cause a flash flood in your area. Check the local weather reports and make sure there is no rain forecast.

The Best Slot Canyons in Utah Near San Rafael Swell Recreation Area

The San Rafael Swell Recreation Area offers a ton of leisure activities. Aside from some great slot canyons, you’ll also find plenty of opportunities for biking, four-wheel driving, and horseback riding. There are also plenty of places for canyoneering, and river running.

Where to stay:  Under Canvas Moab

12. Baptist Draw and Upper Chute Canyon

If you’re looking for something a bit more than just slot canyon hiking in Utah, then we think you’ll enjoy Baptist Draw. This class 3 canyoneering route is a fun slot canyon with 4 rappels, which ends on an 80 ft rappel leading into Upper Chute Canyon.

Although a large part of the canyon, especially the narrows, can be explored without the use of ropes, you will need equipment to hike the entire loop.

  • Hiking Distance:  6.2-mile loop
  • Location:  San Rafael Swell Recreation Area
  • How to Get There:  Reach the canyons from a side track along the main road to Tomsich Butte/Hidden Splendor Mine. You’ll find it 4 miles south of the junction with the road to Reds Canyon. Ideally, you will want a 4WD to get there.
  • Useful Things to Know:  Check the local weather forecast for rainfall in the area which could cause flash flooding. The trail is suitable for people with canyoneering experience and who know how to use rappels. Make sure you bring the correct equipment with you. It’s not advisable to do this canyon in the winter months.

13. Little Wild Horse Canyon

Little Wild Horse Canyon Slot Canyon Utah

This is a popular hiking trail, especially for those with families and youth groups. Part of its popularity comes from the long stretch of “narrows,”. This is where the canyon walls are so close you have to turn sideways to get through, although for small children this isn’t too much of a problem.

Visually, Little Wild Horse Canyon is a beautiful canyon, which needs little technical ability. Because of the scrambling involved, this hike makes a great introduction to the sport of canyoneering.

  • Hiking Distance:  8-mile loop
  • Location:  Near Goblin Valley
  • How to Get There:  The trailhead can be reached by taking Hwy 95 south toward Hanksville. Turn west and enter Goblin Valley Road. Just before Goblin Valley State Park, turn west. There’s a dirt road with a sign to the trailhead.
  • Useful Things to Know:  This trail is popular for backpackers and birdwatchers. You can camp along the trail and dogs are welcome if they’re on a leash. This is one of the slot canyon hikes of Utah that looks beautiful whichever season you visit and can be easily hiked at all times of the year.

Although the canyons are normally dry, you may find pools of water during the spring as well as after summer storms. It’s possible to wade through them as the water is usually only ankle-deep.

14. Ding & Dang Canyon

This is a relatively challenging route and technical gear is needed for lowering packs & emergency use. There are short drops of about 10-12 feet, so bringing a rope is useful. The area is also popular with rock climbers.

Ding and Dang are two different canyons that are a few hundred yards apart and have different characteristics. Ding is the narrowest and has the prettier passages. Dang is the more challenging of the two and features a few deeper pools and chockstones (which are large boulders wedged in the slot canyon that you have to climb over.)

  • Hiking Distance:  5-mile loop
  • Location:  Near Green River
  • How to Get There:  The trailhead is along the same unpaved track that Little Wild Horse Canyon is located on. Take the side road heading west, just before the entrance to Goblin Valley State Park. Drive past the entrance for Little Wild Horse Canyon, and continue west along the stony creek bed for 1.3 miles to the starting point for the Ding and Dang trail. You can camp near this trailhead.
  • Useful Things to Know:  This loop hike passes through both of the canyons. Usually, it’s done in a counter-clockwise direction because the obstructions in Dang Canyon are easier to navigate and pass when you’re walking downstream. So, start at the lower end of Ding Canyon.

The Best Slot Canyons in Utah Near Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef has some great slot canyon hikes if you enjoy more challenging hikes, like scrambling over chockstones and squeezing through tight spaces. There are several hidden canyons in this region, Burron Wash is a really neat, lesser-known canyon.

Where to stay:   Cougar Ridge

15. Burro Wash

This is a reasonably challenging trail that follows the river and goes through dark passages, pools, dry falls, and chockstones. This is a great place for multi-day hikes, as there are camping spots next to the creek along the way.

The trail starts with an upstream walk along footpaths that cut across the creek. Eventually, you’ll reach Waterpocket Fold. This is where the canyon narrows, you’ll also see the ground littered with colorful pebbles and boulders.

  • Hiking Distance:  7.5 miles out-and-back
  • Location:  Capitol Reef National Park
  • Useful Things to Know:  This is not an official trail and there are no markers. Make sure you bring a map and have route-finding skills. Because of the challenging nature of this trail, dogs are not allowed on this trail. Backcountry permits are required for camping in this area.

16. Leprechaun Canyon – Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

Leprechaun Canyon Slot Canyons in Utah

This is a narrow slot canyon and if you hike the whole thing you will need technical gear and experience with canyoneering. Although, it is possible to hike the first section of this slot canyon without any gear.

Make sure when exploring this slot canyon that you do not climb up or down anything that you aren’t sure you can’t get out of. People have had to be rescued here so make sure you know your limitations!

  • Hiking Distance:  2.2 miles out and back
  • How to Get There:  There is a short dirt road on the east side of the canyon mouth. This leads to a short sand-trap road. The road is off Highway 95, which is 2.0 miles east of the intersection with Utah 276.
  • Useful Things to Know:  If you hike the entire canyon make sure to bring gear as well as a headlamp. You don’t need a permit to hike Leprechaun Canon, and dogs are not allowed on the trail. Take water as there is none available.

The Best Slot Canyons in Utah Near Moab

There aren’t a ton of Moab slot canyon hikes but there are a few! You will need to go on a bit of a road trip to reach the slot canyon hikes near Moab. While you’re near Moab, make sure to check out Arches National Park & see the  gorgeous Arches sunsets.  If you are an early riser, the  Arches sunrises are just as good but without the crowds.

Where to stay:   Expedition Lodge

17. Moonshine Wash

This is a bit of a hidden gem and one of the best non-technical slot canyons near Moab. Moonshine Wash is tucked away in the middle of the San Rafael desert.

The canyon gained its interesting name from the illegal whisky production that happened here during the 1900s prohibition.

Because this is one of the lesser-known Moab slot canyons, you will most likely have the whole trail to yourself.

  • Hiking Distance:  6.4mile loop
  • Location:  San Rafael desert
  • How to Get There:  From Moab, head north to South Lower San Rafael road. Drive to the end of this road and head east along the dirt track for 1 mile. It will go down a steep and rough road and then back up again. You’ll need a 4×4 to get there.
  • Useful Things to Know:  Dogs are allowed off leash however be careful of the chockstones that vary between 1 – 9 foot drops where you’ll need a harness to lower them.

18. Joint Trail (Via Chesler Park Loop Trail)

Joint Trail Chesler Park Loop Slot Canyon

We love this trail for its impressive geology. It features a maze of towering pinnacles, with winding canyons and mushroom rocks. The Joint Trail is a short section through a slot canyon and makes up part of this hike. This trail is popular with backpackers and overnight campers.

The trail goes through the sandstone spires of the Needles, which are something to awe at. This is an incredibly scenic trail, especially near the start when you climb up a staircase that is wedged between two massive boulders. The view when you reach the top is outstanding.

  • Hiking Distance:  10.7-mile loop
  • Location:  The Needles District in Canyonlands National Park
  • How to Get There:  The Chesler Park Loop Trail starts at Elephant Hill Trailhead. From Federal Route 2444 head toward Needles campground. Just after the campground, the road becomes a dirt road. You’ll see signs for Elephant Hill in the parking lot.
  • Useful Things to Know:  This is a reasonably challenging hike with 2140 feet of elevation gain throughout the hike.

You can walk the loop in either direction, although if you do it counterclockwise, you’ll get the toughest part of the hike out of the way early on.

19. Mary Jane Canyon

Mary Jane Canyon Utah Slot Canyon

Mary Jane Canyon is one of the easy slot canyons in Utah. It’s family-friendly and runs along Professor Creek. Because it goes through the creek, expect to skip from one side to the other, and wade through sections. Your feet will get wet.

The creek flows all year round and for the majority of the trail, the creek is shallow. You will reach a waterfall at the end of the trail which is something to marvel at! Overall this is an easy upstream walk and pleasant in the hot summer months.

  • Hiking Distance:  8.3 out and back
  • Location:  Professor Valley
  • How to Get There:  Take the road that links Moab with Cisco, the UT 128. About 3 miles before you reach the turn-off to Castle Valley you’ll find a gravel track called Professor Valley Road. Follow this track for 2 miles to the parking lot.
  • Useful Things to Know:  This hike is best done in the summer months, as it involves walking in the streambed for most of it. During the summer the water should only be a few inches deep. Always watch the weather as flash flooding can happen in this canyon.

Tips for Hiking Slot Canyons in Utah

Whichever of these great Utah canyons you choose to hike, we suggest you follow these basic tips to make sure you’re safe.

Be Prepared: Check the Weather

Check the weather in the week leading up to your hike as well as on the day. If it rained a lot in the days leading up to your hike, you might find some parts of the trail are impassable.

Look out for any warnings of extreme weather and things like flash flooding. Make sure to look at the weather miles away as well, as flash flooding can occur even if it’s not raining in the area you’re in.

Before you start your hike, make sure you have packed everything you need and you have a backpack that disperses the weight, there’s nothing worse than an uncomfortable backpack during a full-day hike.

Take plenty of water, especially if it’s hot weather as well as high-energy snacks for the day. It’s also a good idea to take a basic first aid kit for blisters, cuts, and grazes. Make sure your boots are broken in and comfortable as well as wear suitable clothing.

Take a windproof or lightweight jacket, even in the summer months, some canyons see very little sunlight and it can get chilly, especially if you’re wet.

Tell Someone Where You’re Going

There’s frequently no cell service on these hikes, or if there is, then it’s a sporadic signal. It’s a good idea to tell somewhere where you’re going before you hike in case something goes wrong.

Tell them your intended route, and what your itinerary is so if you do have a problem, and you’re without a phone signal, someone knows where to find you.

Practice Leave No Trace Principles

The essence behind Leave No Trace is to sustain the environment for future generations by lessening our impact on the places we visit. There are seven principles of Leave No Trace that you should take note of whenever you do these Utah canyon hikes. These are:

  • Stay on the trail
  • Pack out what you bring to the hiking trail
  • Properly dispose of waste
  • Leave areas as you found them
  • Minimize campfire impact
  • Be considerate of other hikers
  • Do not approach or feed the wildlife

Now Go and Explore the Best Slot Canyons in Utah

So, which Utah slot canyon are you going to explore first? We dived into a wide selection of slot canyons for all levels of hiker, there really is something for everyone. So now all you need to do is get out there and enjoy them.

We hope you found this article helpful and that you’re excited about your next slot canyon adventure!

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Jess Drier is co-founder of Unearth The Voyage. She loves outdoor adventures, hiking, camping, going on float trips, and exploring new countries. She has explored more than 20 countries, taught English in South Korea, and visited 28 stunning National Parks while living in her RV. She loves sharing her knowledge here on Unearth The Voyage in detailed guides and helping others discover the great outdoors and their love for travel!

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A Beginner’s Guide to Utah’s Slot Canyons

Learn everything you need to know to tackle routes like the narrows and zebra slot canyon in and around utah’s national parks..

Utah’s world famous sandstone slot canyons are true works of art: these thin, maze-like passages with their multicolored and intricately patterned walls are among nature’s greatest architectural feats. They offer breathtaking sculptural formations, and weaving in and out of them is one of the most immersive ways to see the landscape. Approached with the proper knowledge, canyoneering in the Beehive State is safe and fun, even for beginners.

‘Beginners?’ you might ask incredulously. If you’ve watched the movie 127 Hours , you could be forgiven for thinking that Utah’s slot canyons automatically entail mortal peril. In that true story, adventurer Aaron Ralston finds himself stranded in a deep and narrow sandstone canyon after a boulder crushes his right arm and pins him to the wall. He escapes only by cutting off his arm above the wrist with a pocketknife.

But that is the exception of all exceptions. In reality, slot canyons can be totally appropriate—and safe!—for beginners, and diving into their shaded and sun-dappled corridors is one of the most unique adventures one can have in the American West. Our beginner guide will provide you with everything you need to get started.

What is a Slot Canyon?

But just what differentiates a slot canyon from a regular canyon, anyway? If the Grand Canyon is an example on the large end of the spectrum, a slot canyon represents the other end: these serpentine passages snake for miles and can constrict to just inches and feet apart. Spooky Gulch —the narrowest slot canyon in Utah—squeezes down to just 10 inches at one point. The main criterion for slot canyon designation is that a canyon’s walls be at least 10 times as high as its width.

A hiker in Spooky Gulch in Grand Staircase Escalente National Monument

Slot canyons form over millions of years: water—and the sediment it carries along with it—gouges out channels in the rock as it trickles down through existing cracks. While slot canyons exist throughout the world and appear in all kinds of rock, they are most commonly found in sandstone, which is why Utah has arguably the highest density of slot canyons in the world. Estimates put the number at more than 1,000, with most found in the southern portion of the state.

Within slot canyons, you’ll find birth-canal-like slots to squeeze through, massive boulders wedged between the walls (called chockstones) to slither beneath, and even pools of water to jump into which can vary between serene and downright disgusting. As such, slot canyons do require a minimum degree of coordination and mobility. Larger-bodied hikers, especially those with broad shoulders or hips, and those with physical limitations should research the canyon they intend to hike into beforehand to ensure they will be able to tackle its obstacles. While your dog would probably enjoy it, best to leave Sparky at home.

Some of Utah’s 1,000-plus slot canyons are expert-level excursions not to be undertaken without a high degree of skill and experience, but many of them are outings that are well suited to beginner canyoneers.

Are Slot Canyons Safe?

Approached with the right knowledge, preparation and gear, slot canyons are a great and safe adventure, a way to elevate the sensory experiences of your average hike.

The most acute danger when navigating a slot canyon is flash flooding . These acts of nature are localized flood events usually precipitated by periods of extraordinarily heavy rain, and can be extremely sudden and violent. Even if it’s not raining exactly where you plan to go—or even on the day you plan for—flash floods are still possible. A 12-foot wall of water rushing at you is no one’s idea of a good time, but in a narrow hallway of rock it can easily be fatal. Doing your research to ensure conditions are safe is critical.

The middle of July through the middle of September is the high season for flash floods in Utah; those canyoneering during these months should do so with even more caution than normal. Even in the shoulder seasons, however, flash floods can occur. Regardless of when you plan to go canyoneering, follow the weather reports in the days prior. Rainstorms anywhere within a 50-mile radius can increase the likelihood of a flash flood.

Be sure to check for any flash food warnings issued by the National Weather Service  on the National Park Service website .

Beyond flash floods, the best rule of thumb for safety in slot canyons is to always go with a partner. Should anything bad happen—whether Aaron Ralston-level or a simple sprained ankle—a partner ensures there’s someone there to help.

The Subway slot canyon in Zion National Park

What Do I Need to Bring with Me in a Slot Canyon?

How much you enjoy your slot canyon experience will vary directly with whether you have the right gear.

Perhaps the most important gear consideration when venturing into a beginner slot canyon is footwear. You’re going to be on your feet a lot, navigating all sorts of twisting tunnels and sandstone slabs, so it’s key to have shoes that give you good traction and are comfortable. Standard hiking boots are a great choice, but approach shoes —a type of sneaker favored by rock climbers for approaching climbs—are often even better: they’re made with a particularly sticky kind of rubber sole, offering unrivaled purchase on sandstone. If you’re in a particularly wet canyon, hopping from pool to pool, water shoes are a good option.

Speaking of water: as with going on a big hike, make sure you have enough of that wet stuff to keep yourself hydrated. Despite the cautionary words about flash floods, there is often nowhere to get water in these canyons. Pack at least two liters of water per person for short excursions and more for longer canyons.

Even in broad daylight, slot canyons can get extremely dark so bringing a headlamp is advisable. Helmets are also important: the meandering routes, sharp turns, walls and roofs occasionally jutting out at strange angles mean that there is ample opportunity to crack your head on sharp stone. In more technical slot canyons that require advanced rope skills for rappelling and building anchors, helmets can be literal lifesavers if rocks get knocked from above.

Bring layers that you can add or subtract depending on the temperature, and possibly even an entire set of dry clothes if you expect to get fully soaked. Because of the abrasive qualities of sandstone, durable tear-resistant clothing is best. Another option, since some slot canyons are also wet or muddy, is to wear a set of clothes you don’t mind trashing.

A paper map or a downloaded section of GAIA GPS (and the navigation skills to read it) is a must for orienteering in a slot canyon. The steep walls often make getting signal and positioning yourself in real time on GPS impossible.

A few other things to throw in your daypack: a basic first aid kid, snacks, sunscreen and possibly some knee- and elbow-pads for a little extra protection while wriggling and crawling.

Should I Hire a Guide?

Even for beginner slot canyons, hiring a guide is a smart idea. More advanced slot canyoneering often involves technical rock climbing skills such as rappelling, belaying and anchor building. It can take years of learning and practice to master these skills and know how to apply them in a canyon, so hiring a guide for any intermediate and advanced canyons is strongly advised.

While you might imagine slot canyons to be just one-way streets that are straightforward, getting lost—whether en route to the canyon, coming back from it, or even while inside it—can happen, and can ruin what would otherwise be an incredible day. Beyond avoiding navigation snafus, slot canyon guides do the necessary research about weather and flooding safety. Most canyoneering guides are trained wilderness first responders in case of emergency and will share knowledge about the local geology, ecology and history that will only enhance your experience.

While technical slot canyons that require ropework and anchor building should not be attempted independently without considerable training and practice, with a competent guide you can tackle these more difficult slot canyons right away. A guide will be able to help you rappel down waterfalls and sheer cliffs within these expert slot canyons in a safe and controlled manner. Furthermore, guides will provide the gear you need, like the harness and the helmet. Guided slot canyon adventures range in price from as low as $100 per person for shorter half-day outings, to several hundred dollars per person for full day excursions.

Tour Peekaboo Slot Canyon (different than Peek-a-boo Canyon) near Kanab with a Jeep or UTV tour.

For slot canyon trips in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah Canyon Outdoors and Excursions of Escalante both offer full-day guided adventures, with a number of different locations to choose from. For similar offerings in Zion, consider East Zion Experiences .

Best Slot Canyons in Utah

The zion narrows.

Beginner Up to 9.4-miles roundtrip

The Narrows in Zion National Park might seem less “slotty” than the archetypal slot canyon with narrow walls, but it is indeed a slot canyon with its depth-to-height ratio right in that 10:1 sweet spot. In addition to being a bit wider than many slot canyons, the Narrows can be enjoyed as an easy short intro to slot canyons, or extended into an expert-level outing, making it perfect for all levels of canyoneers.

For the beginner experience, you’ll start at a natural amphitheater called the Temple of Sinawava and hike up river from the bottom of the canyon for 4.7 miles. The full out-and-back is 9.4 miles. For those looking for something even shorter, simply turn around sooner. While this is the easy option, you’ll still want water shoes and clothes you can get wet,or a wetsuit, as you’ll be swimming or wading the entire way.

Solo hiker in the Zion Narrows in Zion National Park

For more experienced slot canyon hikers, top down is the way to experience the Narrows. From a place called Chamberlain’s Ranch, you’ll hike 16 miles down to the mouth of the canyon, where you’ll finish at Temple of Sinawava. This can take up to 15 hours. If pursuing this option, you’ll need to apply for a permit.

Little Wild Horse Canyon

Beginner 3.3 miles roundtrip

While still easy and accessible for those new to slot canyons Little Wild Horse Canyon, in the San Rafael Swell outside of Goblin Valley State Park , is much further off the beaten path than Zion’s Narrows, meaning you’re more likely to have the serenity of the place to yourself. The meat of Little Wild Horse Canyon arrives only half-a-mile into the 3.3-mile roundtrip outing. There are chockstones to crawl under, constrictions to slither through and pools to either plunge into or—for the brave—avoid by bridging oneself between the canyon’s narrow walls.

A woman explores Little Wild Horse Canyon

Zebra Slot Canyon

Intermediate 5.2 miles roundtrip

Zebra Slot Canyon, in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument , is aptly named: stripes of orange, red, and ochre in every conceivable shade line the sandstone walls. While it’s not the single easiest slot canyon in the state, it is perhaps the most stunning, and will be in the wheelhouse for most experienced hikers.

A 2.5-mile hike to the start of the canyon leads to the main event: the quarter-mile-long Zebra Slot Canyon, at times barely more than shoulder width, sections of it filled with water anywhere from ankle- to waist-deep. This is an out-and-back hike.

Zebra Slot Canyon in Utah

Zebra Slot Canyon is also a good litmus test for the claustrophobic: if this canyon is not your cup of tea, you’ll know not to seek out narrower slot canyons. Be sure not to pack too big of a backpack for this one—there are a few notably tight squeezes. Those with wide shoulders may want to skip it.

Buckskin Gulch

Challenging 21 miles roundtrip

Buckskin Gulch, a slot canyon in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness near Zion National Park, has one particular claim to fame: it is a contender for both the longest slot canyon in the world, snaking along for some 16 miles, as well as the deepest slot canyon in the world. That being said, it is not simply its length that sets it apart. The way the light bounces off its facets, the petroglyphs that line its walls and the lack of escape options make it an immersive experience—a step into another world, another time—unlike some of the equally stunning but shorter slot canyons in Utah.

Hiker in Buckskin Gulch

Canyoneers can opt for an easy outing, hiking from Wire Pass Trailhead for up to 5.6 miles down the gulch and turning around. Further than this, the terrain becomes technical and cannot be reversed. Continuing on to do the full 16 mile canyon—and 21 total hiking miles to the finish at White House Campground—as a through-hike is an unforgettable experience. You’ll need a 40-foot rope and the necessary skill to rig an anchor and rappel, as there are some steep sections. Unless you’re extremely fast, doing Buckskin Gulch over two days is the best option. If done in this way, you’ll hike about 15 miles of the canyon on day one, to the point where it widens and has some campsites. Whether doing the out-and-back version of Buckskin Gulch, or the full through-hike (whether one or two days), a permit is required.

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A Spooky Scare At Spooky Gulch and Peekaboo Slot Canyons | Utah

A few years ago, I was a fresh-faced adventurer taking on the wild west for the first time. Not too far off from a Filipino Alexander Supertramp, I sought to conquer the great outdoors while being entirely unprepared to do so. Not even a week after dropping acid on my first dispersed camping trip, I went off the beaten path to explore some of Southern Utah’s slot canyons. I didn’t have the foresight to book Antelope Canyon in advance, so I would have to settle for Spooky Gulch and Peek-A-Boo Gulch in Grand Staircase – Escalante.

Let’s start off with pictures because it’s only going to be all downhill from here. For those of you that have read a few of my other posts, you know I usually drop the bangin’ photos at the end. The photos are like the big payoff like an epic view at the end of a hike. However, akin to Alexander Supertramp , I could have ended up wasting away alone in the wilderness. Enjoy these pictures, because it’s only a downhill spiral from here on out.

spooky gulch canyon utah

For those of you that haven’t seen 127 Hours , slot canyons are not to be f***ed with. As gorgeous as they are, they are also potentially very dangerous . The two I decided to go to were a bit off the beaten path, and attracted me as a destination because it seemed like not too many people knew about them. When I say not too many, I mean practically no one. I was one of maybe two cars in the parking lot when I went.

spooky gulch canyon utah

That should have been a sign for my panicked mind that maybe I shouldn’t do this hike in the sweltering desert with only one or two other hikers in the vast sandy expanse. I wasn’t supposed to do this hike alone, but my friend hit a deer on his way to meet me. That was yet another ominous sign, but I was determined to make the most of my time in Utah. I optimistically chugged along in my Chevy Cruze along Hole-in-the-Rock Road’s 26 miles of bumpy dirt road towards the trailhead.

I made it to the turn-off at Dry Fork and pushed my car to the parking lot next to the trailhead. It would save two miles of hiking, and despite the narrow, bumpy road, my car made it just fine.

Here we go, y’all.

Hiking down to the slot canyons of Peekaboo Gulch and Spooky Gulch was relatively uneventful. It was sizzling hot, but aside from how much of a pain it is to trudge through sand, it was pretty straightforward. There were plenty of cairns, and you should absolutely 100% follow those cairns even if you think you know a shortcut or know the way yourself. Trust me. I’ll tell you why later.

The gulch was still pretty flooded when I got there, so I couldn’t enter through the front. I went around the back and followed the canyon until I found a place that was dry enough for me to drop in from the top. It was absolutely beautiful, and seeing how millennia of erosion carved its way through the canyons was a sight to behold. Do I genuinely believe that? I think so. I also want to justify that putting myself through one of the stupidest, most dangerous days of my life was worth it.

If you’re claustrophobic, maybe slot canyons aren’t your thing. They get really narrow. There were many instances where I couldn’t walk through a narrow part so I had to go Spider-man and climb my way through while being ten feet off the ground.

slot canyons utah

Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Eventually, I got to a point where it was completely impassable. Slot canyons have two entrances: in and out. The way in was flooded with water, so there was no way I could backtrack through that. The way out was about three inches wide. No amount of dieting could get my body through that gap. Have you ever seen the Emperor’s New Groove? Because that was me, but I didn’t have a llama to help me up.


I scooted my way up that canyon until I reached the top. It wasn’t too difficult, but it was definitely a “ what did I get myself into ” moment. I made it out no problem, but with the sun beating down on me and a severe lack of any idea where I was, I should have tried heading back.

However, I knew the second slot canyon, Spooky Gulch, should have been close by. I went after it instead of just going back. They were only a short hike away from each other, and it was stilly early in the day. I somehow ended up stumbling into Spooky Gulch, not entirely sure how. I even saw people along the way to the second one!

peekaboo slot canyon

Seeing those other people boosted my confidence enough to convince me that I was totally Bear Grylls and that I didn’t need to follow the cairns back. After all, how lost could I possibly get on a 3.5 mile roundtrip hike?

Turns out, I was no Bear Grylls.

Anyway, I was lost in the desert for the next few hours, and I’m not even exaggerating. Although I was in the desert, there were a significant amount of steep canyons there. I found myself wandering in between the canyons for a few hours because I couldn’t see anything except these stupidly tall towering rock formations. I aimlessly followed the path between the canyons until hitting a dead end. With half a water bottle left, no phone signal and a storm looming, I decided that I was probably going to die there.

Fortunately, after turning around a few times, I somehow ended up at the entrance to the first slot canyon. I wouldn’t even have recognized it if I didn’t stop to consider drinking the mud water to quench my thirst. My aimless wandering brought me back to familiar territory, and I was able to figure out my way back to the trailhead. After an hour of climbing sandy inclines, my feet were dead, I was dead, and the parking lot was even deader than before. I was the only one left out there, and if I hadn’t found my way out, I probably would have had no one to save me. I don’t know if I’m being overdramatic but that was some scary stuff.

It was 118 degrees according to my car when I got inside, and twenty minutes later, it started pouring. Slot canyons are notorious for flash floods that just wipe out groups of hikers. I felt #blessed but that day taught me to never underestimate nature.

“What did it cost? Everything…”

Was going to Spooky Gulch and Peek-A-Boo Gulch worth it? Absolutely, but be smart about it. Do not go hiking alone. Always let people know where you are beforehand. If you’ve seen 127 Hours, just know that it could end up exactly like that. Bring more water than you think you’ll need, and check the weather before you head out. If it’s going to storm, just don’t even bother going. If it’s over 100 degrees, don’t even bother going. If you are like me and are out of shape and decide to go on a stormy day when it is 118 degrees out, consider yourself lucky to survive.

You may think I’m exaggerating a little, but this is one of those hikes that you need to take extra care to make sure that you are ready for whatever happens. It is way, way, way out there and you won’t have any cell service to call for help if anything happens.

If you decide to take on these two beautiful slot canyons, best of luck! Enjoy, because it is definitely an unforgettable experience.

peekaboo slot canyon

If this post helped you out or made you laugh, show some love and support for the blog and help keep my adventures going by buying me a beer ! My adventures are entirely self-funded, so any show of support is greatly appreciated, and allows me to keep writing helpful travel guides and creating travel content to help you all travel the world on a budget.

If this post helped you out, show some love and support for the blog and help keep my adventures going by  buying me a beer ! My adventures are entirely self-funded, so any show of support is greatly appreciated, and allows me to keep writing helpful travel guides and creating travel content to help you all travel the world on a budget.

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Utah National Park Guides:

  • Arches National Park
  • Capitol Reef National Park
  • Canyonlands National Park
  • Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Zion National Park
  • Dead Horse Point State Park
  • Antelope Island State Park

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19 thoughts on “ a spooky scare at spooky gulch and peekaboo slot canyons | utah ”.

I always wanted to hike a canyon and this looks pretty awesome! Although it sounds very hard. But as you said, it must be an unforgettable experience!

I haven’t heard of these two canyons, but your experience sounds terrifyingly wonderful. I, myself, would only be brave enough if I was with a group (or atleast one other person). But I am glad to learn about these lesser known places for the future!

This was such an adventure. Fun but terrifying at the same time, at least it would be for me. Good work for exploring and sharing with us.

Remembering 127 hour make me cringe. As beautiful as the slot canyon seems, I can’t forget the sight of James Franco stuck in the ridges. I am sure you had a thrilling experience wading through the canyons. These are indeed gorgeous.

This place looks really amazing to visit and take a lot of good pictures! I want to explore these kinds of landscape in the US.

I would love to see Slot Canyons one day. That rock has such an amazing beauty about it. The color of it is just phenomenal.

I use to live in Arizona where there are a lot of canyons and never heard of slot canyons! I’m definitely adding to my bucket list! This looks like so much fun! Great pictures!

We remember watching 127 Hours!!! eeeeek – one brave dude! I’m not so sure we could have done it. Great photo opps though x

This is something I always wanted to do. I am glad I stumbled on this post. I am so exciting to visit the Canyons.

Oh wow, this looks like a great place to visit. Such a stunning place! Truly a bucket list material.

I love visiting out west. There is so much to do out there and a lot of cool things to see!

What an amazing story! Love the Emperor’s New Groove reference hahaha. Great photos too

Slot Canyons looks like such a great place for photo opportunities but it will surely give me weak knees if I was there.

Slot Canyons looks like an awesome place to check out! I bet it was an awesome experience!

this is amazing! reminds me a little of red rocks in colorado

I would love to explore somewhere like this – but after seeing the film 27hours, I’m always a bit wary LOL! x

A nicely-done article . The best places are off the beaten path.

I love to hear about places that dot not get the big write-ups in the travel books and forums.

Every place has it’s share of incredible off the beaten track spots.Thanks for sharing this secret one.

My claustrophobuia is kicking in just looking at the photos. Yaiks😳😳😳

This was my bucketlist with my 9 & 12 yo but after watching a YouTube and reading your blog….I crossed it out. Thank you so much for your details which was my worst nightmare come true. I can hear ourselves screaming crying stuck and lost in the desert 🤣

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spooky gulch canyon utah

The 7 Most Breathtaking Canyons in Utah

Utah doesn't just have the great outdoors, it has the best outdoors!

By Susanna Pilny on July 15, 2016

Canyons in Utah

It’s not exactly a secret that Utah is an amazing place to connect with the great outdoors, especially when it comes to sports like skiing or fishing. But perhaps Utah should be more famous for another reason—something more closely associated with a state like Arizona . As it turns out, Utah is filled with stunning, red-washed canyons, some of which you just need to see to believe.

The Best Places to Live in Utah

In This Article

1. Zion Canyon

Only a three hours’ drive from Las Vegas , Zion National Park is famous for its scenery. Zion Canyon in particular is a stunning drive or hike; sandstone cliffs soar up to 2,000 feet above you, as you stroll between the North Fork Virgin River and the shady forest it supports.

2. Spooky Gulch Canyon

Spooky Gulch may sound a little, well, scary, but really it has more its own unique brand of beauty. It’s a slot canyon 26 miles from the town of Escalante, and gets rather dark and narrow—it’s only 15 inches wide in some places—but the change in the light can be mesmerizing, muting dusty reds into purples and browns.

3. Bryce Canyon

Okay, so small confession: Bryce Canyon isn’t technically a canyon proper. In fact, it’s considered to be a series of natural amphitheaters—as in, enormous bowl-shaped spaces that happen to be well-suited to amplifying sound. Ignoring that, Bryce Canyon is stunning, especially with its series of hoodoos, which are spindly rock spires that can reach nearly 150 feet in height.

These 17 Pictures Will Make You Want to Move to Utah

4. Buckskin Gulch

Buckskin Gulch happens to be the longest and deepest slot canyon in the southwest U.S.—possibly the world—making it extremely popular with hikers. (Though, you need to get a permit in advance from the Bureau of Land Management first!) The path twists and turns, bathing you in alternating light and shadow for a hike that takes around a full day to complete.

5. Nine Mile Canyon

The other canyons on this list are overflowing with natural beauty, but Nine Mile Canyon made this list for a slightly different reason: It’s known as “the world’s longest art gallery.” That’s because the canyon is full of rock art left behind by several different Native American cultures, including the Fremont and Ute. It has 63 archeological sites in total.

6. Cedar Breaks National Monument

Like Bryce Canyon, Cedar Breaks is a natural amphitheater—one that’s a half mile deep. It, too, has hoodoos (and fins as well), but the ones at Cedar Breaks are famous for their vivid colors. More than fifty different hues have been recognized by experts, making it a sort of sun-drenched rainbow.

See Which Utah Cities Ranked Among the 100 Best Places to Live 2016

7. Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands is appropriately named (we’ll give you three guesses why), and being the largest national park in Utah, there is no better place to view it in all its splendor than the soaring Island in the Sky. From there, you can see for miles around, including the canyons carved out of the colorful rock by the Colorado and Green rivers, as well as other gorgeous sights, like Mesa Arch.

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Peekaboo and Spooky Slot Canyon Tours - Utah Forum

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Peekaboo and Spooky Slot Canyon Tours

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' class=

Now we are checking tours. We will be at Capitol Reef and I was planning of doing the slot canyon stopping on the way down to Bryce for a night and staying possibly in Escalante. In looking at tours they seem to mainly leave from Kanab . I found one company (Get Your Guide) that leaves from Escalante but it is an international company out of Berlin and when I looked at the site they had tours scheduled at 2am and 8am (called and it is incorrect times but that they are that lax on their web site concerns me).

We want to take the jeep ride and go to Peekaboo and Spooky. Now to my question. Does anyone know about this company ( GET YOUR GUIDE) or have other companies that they would recommend that I might get from closer to where the actual trail is.

Thanks for any help you can provide.

2 replies to this topic

' class=

Whether you drive yourselves or go with a tour operator, the trailhead parking lot is as far as anyone can drive. The drop into the wash will be by foot. There are no off-road jeep rides down. From the trailhead, it's maybe a little over a mile to the entrance to Peekaboo. When you come out of Peekaboo, you proceed thru Spooky, and then hike out of the wash to the parking lot. I think it's 5-6 miles total and will take you a couple of hours. It's not a "strenuous" hike exactly but it's also not an Antelope canyon tour.

As for the route itself, it's not difficult by southwest standards, but there's no way to avoid walking through some sand. There are also some short climbs and down-climbs. The biggest obstacle is the entrance into Peekaboo; it's a bit of a climb. If you have one nimble person who can scramble up, it's easy to pull other people up. The profile also changes from year to year, probably from flash floods depositing sand. At 5'2", I have needed a hand, though not every time. There's also one down-climb in Spooky. Again, not difficult by canyon standards but I also know someone who slipped and sprained an ankle there.

Depending on your level of experience hiking in the canyons, I would suggest doing some research about the hikes. There are a lot of photos available online. I realize your question was about the tour operator but I think the drive may not actually be your primary concern.

spooky gulch canyon utah

There are two Peekaboo canyons which can make it kind of confusing. When you pair it with Spooky one assumes you are talking about the one out of Escalante, which is the one DTF described above. I'm not sure this is one you'd want to take with a non-hiker.

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spooky gulch canyon utah


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    Peek-A-Boo is a slot and corkscrew, and Spooky Gulch is a narrow slot canyon. It is worth noting, due to the restrictive nature of the some of the spaces in Spooky, this canyon is better suited for smaller body types. Adding to the cool factor of this destination is that it's a loop — which is rare for these parts.

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    Description This loop up PeekaBoo Gulch and down Spooky Gulch is an incredibly fun, 3.5-mile scramble through some of the best slot canyons in southern Utah. Some caveats include: a 15-foot, 3rd class climb to enter Peekaboo Canyon a 7-foot downclimb in Spooky Gulch claustrophobic, skinny conditions in Spooky Gulch

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    Peek-A-Boo is a mix of slot and corkscrew canyon, and Spooky Gulch is a narrow slot canyon. Hiking Distance: 3-mile loop; Location: Dry Fork area of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument; How to Get There: From Highway 12, head down Hole-in-the-Rock Road for 26.3 miles. Go as far as Dry Fork road and you'll find the trailhead.

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