Are you planning a trip to Utah? If so, you won’t want to miss visiting slot canyons in Utah. They will genuinely transport you to a new world with their grandeur and intricate natural designs.
Keep reading to learn what a slot canyon is and how many Utah has. And we’ll show you where to find the best ones in the state. Let’s go hiking!
What Is a Slot Canyon?
A slot canyon is a narrow gorge of soft rocks with layered sedimentary deposits. Utah has some of the most famous slot canyons in the world. The wear and tear of rain and flood waters rushing through rock formed these features. The elements contribute to making slot canyons beautiful natural wonders.
How Many Slot Canyons Does Utah Have?
Utah has more than 1,000 slot canyons and the densest collection in the world. As a result, many hikers and travelers across the country and the world seek out these natural wonders. You can have difficulty getting to some, while others you can easily hike in and explore.
Where to Find Slot Canyons in Utah
You can find slot canyons in Utah in various locations. You’ll find some of the most beautiful in southern Utah near the Arizona border. For example, Zion Narrows in Zion National Park is one of the most visited. Although it takes about six hours to get through on foot, it’s a moderate hike and well worth it.
The slot canyons typically require a hike or guided tour to see up close. Mainly because of how narrow they are, it’s best to see them from the ground of the canyon. And some may require a whole day to hike. But whichever canyon you decide to visit, you’ll find plenty of options for lodging or camping.
Essential Safety Tips to Know Before Visiting Slot Canyons in Utah
Do your research and watch the weather before visiting slot canyons in Utah, especially if you hike without a guide. The narrow gorges can quickly fill with water in rain storms, and the water typically contains a lot of debris. Also, ensure you have the proper gear when on self-guided hikes and let someone know where you are. Finally, bring enough food and water, especially for the longer hikes.
Pro Tip: Make sure you pack these 10 Hiking Essentials You Should Never Hit the Trail Without when hiking the different slot canyons in Utah.
What’s the Longest Slot Canyon in Utah and the World?
The longest uninterrupted slot canyon in Utah and the world is Buckskin Gulch. It’s 12 miles long and about 10 feet wide, with 400 feet of walls at the canyon’s deepest point. You can access it from Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
While Utah and Arizona have some of the most magnificent slot canyons, others exist worldwide. For example, you can find the famous Colored Canyon in Egypt, which is a half-mile long. And it rises 16 stories with walls only a few feet away in some places. Siq, Jordan, is also home to a famous slot canyon.
The 10 Best Slot Canyons in Utah That Will Transport You to a New World
Now, let’s take a closer look at the ten best slot canyons in Utah. The canyons will transport you to a new world because of the unique views looking up at their magnificence. From various rock colors to degrees of light shining through the narrow openings above, you can’t help but be transfixed when exploring.
1. Zion Narrows
Location: Zion National Park
Best for: You can see the Zion Narrows from the paved accessible Riverside Walk for a mile. The river hike in the canyon is for moderate skill levels and is family-friendly.
About: Zion Narrows is the narrowest section of Zion Canyon. It has stunning rock formations and is one of the most visited places in the national park. The Virgin River lies at the bottom of the slot canyon, so you’ll need to hike in to see the canyon from below. Visitors typically go about 2.5 miles into the canyon and back.
Pro Tip: We hiked The Narrows, and we think you should too! Check out these 6 Reasons Why The Narrows Hike in Zion Should Be on Your Bucket List.
2. Peekaboo Slot Canyon
Location: Dry Fork, near the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Best for: Moderately skilled hikers, as there is some mild rock climbing.
About: Peekaboo Slot Canyon resembles the famous Antelope Canyon in Arizona. The sunlight hits the rocks just right so colors dance off the walls. It’s about a three-mile hike through Peekaboo Slot Canyon and Spooky Gulch. Some very narrow sections are better suited for smaller body types.
3. Buckskin Gulch Wire Pass Slot
Location: The gulch lies on the Utah and Arizona border near Kanab, Utah.
Best for: The Wire Pass Trail has an easy rating.
About: Buckskin Gulch Wire Pass is a 5.6-mile out-and-back hike. You’ll get a beautiful view of the longest slot canyon in Utah and the world on this hike. Its massive walls transport and inspire you with their various shapes and hues. Additionally, it’s a dog-friendly trail as long as you have your pup leashed.
Pro Tip: We visited this slot canyon at night with head lamps and it was awesome!
4. Kanarra Creek
Location: Kanarra Creek is just outside the Kolob Canyons in Zion National Park.
Best for: It’s an easy hike up to the first waterfall in the canyon, but past that it becomes moderate with some rope climbing.
About: Kanarra Creek Canyon is one of Utah’s most unique slot canyons. It contains waterfalls and opportunities to rope climb. But the water against the rocks makes it all worth it. The hike into the canyon is 3.5 miles roundtrip if you go beyond the first waterfall. Otherwise, it’s a short and easy hike.
5. Furniture Draw
Location: Elmo, Utah
Best for: The hike is easy and family-friendly.
About: Furniture Draw is a 3.7-mile out-and-back hiking trail. It will take you through one of the beautiful slot canyons in Utah that is easy to navigate and broader than other canyons on this list. There’s not much shade on the trail, and the canyon portion of the hike is relatively short. It is also a dog-friendly trail.
6. Zebra Canyon
Location: Escalante, Utah, in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Best for: The trail is for moderately skilled hikers.
About: Zebra Canyon is named for its striped walls. The slot canyon brings out stunning hues of colors depending on where the light hits the walls. The trail out and back goes 5.2 miles. It tends to be a high-traffic trail and dog-friendly.
7. Red Hollow Slot Canyon
Location: Near Orderville, Utah, about 30 minutes east of Zion National Park.
Best for: An easy, family-friendly hike.
About: Red Hollow Slot Canyon has an easy 1.9-mile out-and-back trail, but the ground is sandy for a portion of it. This is one of the popular slot canyons in Utah for hikers and bird watchers, and it’s dog-friendly. The canyon has delightful red walls that are incredibly photogenic.
8. Spring Creek Canyon
Location: Kanarraville, Utah
Best for: The trail through Spring Creek Canyon has moderate difficulty.
About: Spring Creek Canyon doesn’t disappoint. The canyon walls vary in shape and size, with beautiful colors. You can take a 5.3-mile out-and-back trail to see the slot canyon. It does have some sand and an incline. You can also hike with your furry friends.
9. Willis Creek Slot Canyon
Location: Kanab, Utah, in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Best for: It’s an easy trail with no ropes or climbing required.
About: Willis Creek Slot Canyon does the job of transporting you to a new world and making you feel small in its midst. Its towering walls are awe-inspiring. The trail is 4.8 miles roundtrip, but you can shorten it to 2.6 miles if you turn around after the narrow section. However, it does incline to about 300 feet. And you will need to cross some very shallow creeks, approximately one to two inches deep.
10. Dry Fork Narrows
Location: In the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Best for: The trail is for moderate skill levels.
About: You’ll find many slot canyons in this part of Utah. Dry Fork Narrows is a short distance from Peekaboo Slot Canyon. The Dry Fork Narrows are a half-mile canyon without any difficult obstacles, making it accessible for most. Its trail is 2 miles roundtrip. We think you’ll love this often overlooked canyon full of various colors.
When’s the Best Time to Visit Slot Canyons in Utah?
Late summer and early fall are the best times to visit slot canyons in Utah. However, summer has high temperatures and flash flood warnings. You don’t want to find yourself in the canyons during heavy rain. Areas farther away may have storms that then wash through the canyons. So even if the weather seems nice, you might still get hit with unexpected flooding. This can become very dangerous.
The fall has more moderate temperatures and fewer flood warnings. We also recommend visiting in the morning or late afternoon to avoid crowds. You’ll likely enjoy the narrow canyons more with fewer people.
This list has family-friendly hikes to harder ones that require squeezing through tight gaps and rock climbing. So no matter your skill level, you can experience some of the best slot canyons in the world. See rushing water flowing down red rocks or zebra-striped walls as tall as skyscrapers. This area of Utah won’t disappoint.
After taking on the slot canyons of Utah, you might be looking for a few easy hikes to round out your trip. We recommend these 7 Easy Hikes in Zion to Experience the Red Rocks.
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