10 Best Slot Canyons in Utah

Slot canyons in Utah are some of the most typical sights to see and are very unique to the region. Slot canyons are great road trip destinations and make for amazing hikes. The hikes can range in difficulty and length to accommodate all hiking abilities.

During our travels of Southwestern Utah, we have been fortunate to explore many slot canyons, and have compiled a list of the 10 best slot canyons in Utah for you to explore, plus two bonus slot canyons in nearby Arizona and Nevada!

Best Slot Canyons in Utah

Where Are the Best Slot Canyons?

The Southwest USA has most of the world’s most well-known slot canyons. Southern Utah has the vast majority of these slot canyons and is the densest population of slot canyons in the world. The neighboring states Arizona and Nevada also have a fairly large number of impressive slot canyons which are worth exploring.

If you find yourself on the other half of the world, Australia has a very large number of slot canyons, however they are mostly quite difficult to access.

Given how easy Utah slot canyons are to access and the vast number of them in the state, Utah is the best place in the world to explore them. We’re sharing the 10 best slot canyons in Utah, with all the details needed to plan your trip.

Peek-A-Boo Slot Canyon in Utah

Best Time of Year to Hike Slot Canyons

Depending on which Utah slot canyon hike you are planning to complete, some may be easily doable anytime of the year and others are best left for the shoulder seasons of March to June and September to November. This is because the summer months are the monsoon season in this area, and the risk of flash floods greatly increases in the slot canyons. In addition, the area is a desert, so it is very dry and very hot in the intense summer heat. In the winter months it can just be too cold to enjoy hiking in the slot canyons.

For each of the slot canyon hikes below, you can find the recommended best time of year to go.

Peek-A-Boo Slot Canyon, Utah

Utah Slot Canyon Map

There are so many slot canyons in the Southwest USA spread across Utah, Arizona, and Nevada, that it is hard to decide where to go. The below map shows the best slot canyon hikes. Use this map to plan out your trip and to figure out the best order for your trip.

Best Slot Canyons in Utah

Utah is jam-packed with many great slot canyon hikes. These Utah slot canyon destinations will make your trip through this beautiful area unforgettable.

The Narrows – Zion National Park, Utah

The Narrows are extremely popular and well-known, and one of the many highlights of Zion National Park. There are two ways to hike The Narrows – the bottom up hike from the Temple of Sinawa which includes a 1-hour hike in the river, and top down hike from Chamberlain’s Ranch which is a longer downstream hike. Due to its popularity, the downstream hike can become quite busy, however there is a permit system in place to limit overcrowding and overuse.

The Narrows is the narrowest section of the famous Zion Canyon that gives the park its name. The Virgin River flows through the Narrows, and so a requirement, and rite of passage, is to get your feet wet and wade through the river. The water level can vary from knee high to hip high and it can be quite challenging to hike upstream with that much water. However, the views of the narrows is completely worth it!

Travelwithtalia hiking the Narrows in Zion National Park Utah

Photo Contributed by Talia from Talia’s Bucketlist

The full hike is a long 16 miles, taking most people 12 hours to complete. The National Park Service has great information on hiking The Narrows, and includes up to date shuttle times, weather conditions, and water conditions, to better plan your visit.

Tips:

  • Bring enough water for your hike, as well as hiking poles to better navigate the large rocks
  • There is weak to no cell reception on the hike with T-Mobile.
  • Best hiked late spring and summer when the water is lowest and warmest, although it is accessible almost year-round with occasional closures in early spring when the water levels and flow become unsafe. Purchase a pair of aqua shoes to better navigate your way through the water and to keep you from slipping on rocks.
The Narrows in Zion National Park Utah

Photo Contributed by Talia from Talia’s Bucketlist

Length/Time: 16 miles (25.7 km) one way (use the park shuttle to return), takes 10-13 hours.

Hours: Open 24 hours a day, although facilities have varying operating hours during the different seasons.

Facilities: There are washrooms in various locations throughout Zion National Park.

Cost: The cost to enter Zion National Park is $35 for a 7-day pass for a private vehicle; alternatively, annual National Park passes are accepted. In addition, permits to hike The Narrows are $15 for 1-2 people, $20 for 3-7 people, and $25 for 8-12 people. Reservations can be made in advance online or through a last-minute draw, beginning a week in advance.

Location: The Narrows, Zion National Park

Wire Pass – Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, Utah

While you may not have heard of Wire Pass before, surely you have heard of its nearby neighbor which is famous worldwide: The Wave. The Wave is actually an easy hike, and is reachable from the same trailhead parking lot, however entrance to The Wave is heavily restricted, and you must obtain a permit to enter. Permits are obtained through a lottery system at the BLM office in Kanab, Utah. The permits can be very difficult to obtain due to the popularity of The Wave and limited spots available as only 20 permits are granted each day.

The hike through Wire Pass is an easy hike and relatively short, with one obstacle, and is also one of the most popular access points to Buckskin Gulch (listed next, below). What it lacks in length compared to Buckskin Gulch, it makes up for with a very narrow and deep canyon with beautiful smooth sandstone walls.

Wire Pass Slot Canyon in Utah

The beginning of the hike follows a wide wash, hiking through gravel and zigzagging along the wash until the beginning of Wire Pass. The slot canyon begins rather abruptly, and once you enter there are a few quick turns before you see how impressive it truly is. The walls are steep and smooth and the slot canyon is generally less than 5 feet (1.5 m) wide.

Wire Pass Slot Canyon in Utah

A few turns into the slot canyon, you will approach the main obstacle of Wire Pass, an 8 foot (2.4 m) drop in the middle of the narrow canyon. Most of the time there is a tree trunk positioned here to help you navigate up and down this obstacle. It’s easier than it looks, but it definitely helps to have someone help spot where you put your feet going up and down.

8ft drop at Wire Pass Slot Canyon Hike Utah

Alternatively, if you don’t feel like navigating the drop you can retrace your steps out of the slot canyon and take the first trail on your left that you see. This trail will lead you on a short detour around the narrowest part of the slot canyon, and position you in Wire Pass after the obstacle so you can still access the confluence with Buckskin Gulch.

You’ll want to make it this far as there are some beautiful petroglyphs on the rock walls just before Wire Pass reaches Buckskin Gulch.

Tips:

If you’re afraid of heights or navigating the drop, use the detour around this section. You can still have the full slot canyon experience of Wire Pass.

  • Bring enough water but carry a small backpack.
  • There is weak to no cell reception on the hike with T-Mobile.
  • Best hiked between April and October, but accessible year-round
  • Length/Time: 3.7 miles return (6.0 km), takes 1-2 hours.
  • Hours: Open 24 hours a day

Cost: The permit to hike Wire Pass costs $6 per person per day. There is no need to make any reservations, and you just pay for the permit at the trailhead in cash. If you are looking to stay overnight on the trail, a reservation and additional fees are required. The permit is valid for Wire Pass, as well as Buckskin Gulch, and the further reaches of Paria Canyon.

Facilities: There is an outhouse at the trailhead.

Location: Wire Pass. Access to the Wire Pass trailhead is located 8.4 miles (13.5 km) south of Highway 89 on House Rock Valley Road. The road is passable to cars when dry, but should be avoided when wet as the road turns to thick mud very quickly.

Buckskin Gulch – Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, Utah and Arizona

Buckskin Gulch is widely considered one of the best slot canyons in the world and the longest slot canyon in the world. The slot canyon stretches for 15 miles (24 km). It is possible to hike all of Buckskin Gulch in one day, though it is best completed over multiple days. Additionally, Buckskin Gulch is great because you can easily access a portion of it through Wire Pass, and explore as much or as little as you like.

Buckskin Gulch Canyon in Utah

If you are entering Buckskin Gulch from Wire Pass, it is an impressive entrance as the narrow Wire Pass Slot Canyon suddenly opens up into the wider Buckskin Gulch, with towering canyon walls. Make sure to look for the petroglyphs here. You can find them right as you exit Wire Pass, on the right-hand side. There are a variety of different petroglyphs and the most impressive of all is the panel of big horn sheep.

Panel of Big Horn Sheep Petroglyphs at Buckskin Gulch Utah

Buckskin Gulch is not a technical hike, although it does have some sections which require rock scrambling, and various levels of wading through water, depending on the time of year and water levels.

Tips:

  • You will get wet! It seems that no matter what time of year, some portion of Buckskin Gulch is sufficiently full of water that you will have to wade through water. For those looking for a shorter day-hike there are plenty of sections explorable without getting wet.
  • If you are looking to wade through the water, get a pair of good aqua shoes in advance. They will help protect your feet and keep you from slipping on rocks.
  • You need to be prepared for when nature calls. The slot canyon ground area is not overly large given the number of people that pass through it each day, as well as those camping overnight. For this reason, and the fact that it often fills with water, you are required to bring a “wag bag” to carry out human waste. You can find wag bags on Amazon that even come with paper and a hand sanitizer wipe.
  • There is no cell reception at Buckskin Gulch with T-Mobile.
  • Best hiked between April and October, but accessible year-round.
Buckskin Gulch Utah

Length/Time: 45.6 miles (73.4 km) one way from Buckskin Gulch to Lees Ferry, takes multiple days; however, you can hike as much or as little as you would like during a day-hike from Wire Pass.

Hours: Open 24 hours a day

Cost: The permit to hike Buckskin Gulch costs $6 per person per day. There is no need to make any reservations, and you just pay for the permit at the trailhead in cash. If you are looking to stay overnight on the trail, a reservation and additional fees are required. The permit is valid for Buckskin Gulch, as well as Wire Pass, and the further reaches of Paria Canyon.

Facilities: There is an outhouse at the trailhead.

Location: Buckskin Gulch. The most popular way to access Buckskin Gulch is through Wire Pass, at the trailhead noted for Wire Pass, above. However, if you are looking to hike the full length of Buckskin Gulch, access to the Wire Pass trailhead is located 8.4 miles (13.5 km) south of Highway 89 on House Rock Valley Road. The road is passable to cars when dry, but should be avoided when wet as the road turns to thick mud very quickly.

Spooky Gulch – Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah

Have you ever heard of Spooky Gulch? Me neither until I went there. This slot canyon definitely lives up to its name and is a lot of fun to explore. The canyon is closest to Escalante, Utah and is a 1-hour drive along a gravel road before a 3-hour hike round-trip from the parking lot. The hike starts off on a flat sandy trail and continues to a climb down into the dry canyon area. The steep climb down is over smooth slick rock.

Peek-A-Boo Slot Canyon Utah

This hike is best combined with the Peek-A-Boo Gulch hike below as they start at the same trailhead. If hiking in a loop, Spooky slot canyon will be the second of the hike, and you will enter at the “rear” of the canyon. Spooky slot canyon very much lives up to its name. It is incredibly narrow, dark, and spooky! In some places, you can only pass by taking off your backpacks, and shuffling sideways.

Spooky also has one technical section halfway through where you need to climb overtop some car-sized boulders, and then crawl back underneath them to continue through the slot canyon. It is not overly technical, but does require some decent flexibility and willingness to crawl into small dark spaces.

Peek-A-Boo Canyon Utah

Tips:

  • Please don’t visit these canyons if you’re claustrophobic! Both canyons have some very narrow spots and are dark at times.
  • Bring enough water but carry a small backpack. A large backpack is much harder to squeeze through the tight corners of Spooky Slot Canyon.
  • There is weak to no cell reception on the hike with T-Mobile.
  • Best hiked between May and November, but accessible year-round

Length/Time: 6.3 mile (10.1 km) loop, takes 3 hours

Hours: Open 24 hours a day

Cost: Visiting Spooky Gulch is free.

Facilities: There are two outhouses at the trailhead.

Location: Spooky Slot Canyon. The slot canyon is located along Hole-In-The-Rock Road, and requires driving about one hour on dusty gravel roads. The roads are fine for a car when dry, but do not attempt to drive when the ground is wet as it instantly turns to slick mud. It is the same hike and trailhead as Peek-A-Boo Gulch, below.

Peek-A-Boo Gulch – Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah

If Spooky Gulch didn’t get you excited, then surely Peek-a-Boo Gulch will. These two slot canyons are right next to each other and are best completed by hiking in a loop. Talk about the perfect pairing for a Halloween slot canyon hike! Combined with Spooky Gulch, the two slot canyons are 3-hour hike round-trip from the parking lot. The hike starts off on a flat sandy trail and continues to a climb down into the dry canyon area. The steep climb down is over smooth slick rock.

Start of Spooky Canyon and Peek-A-Boo Canyon Hike

The best way to hike these two slot canyons is in a one-way loop, starting with Peek-A-Boo, traveling cross-country to reach Spooky, and then exiting Spooky in the original canyon area near the Peek-A-Boo entrance. Some people who are claustrophobic may not want to hike Spooky, which is narrower and much deeper. Spooky also has a large rockslide obstacle that requires some rock scrambling and crawling through crevices. It is totally possible to only hike Peek-A-Boo, you would just return the way that you entered.

Once you reach Peek-A-Boo Slot Canyon, you need to climb up about a 12-foot (3.7 meters) rock face to enter the canyon. It’s definitely manageable, and the most technical part of hiking Peek-A-Boo. If you are on the shorter end, it helps to have a friend that can help you up or spot you. Once you start walking through, you quickly understand where the name Peek-A-Boo comes from. The canyon has some fun rock loops you can climb through and each corner is hidden – providing the best peek-a-boo game! As the slot canyon is not overly deep, you can also play peek-a-boo with people in the canyon, while walking along up top.

Peek-A-Boo Slot Canyon Loops Utah

When you reach the end of Peek-A-Boo, there is an easy to follow trail that travels cross-country to the entrance of Spooky Slot Canyon, allowing you to check out both slot canyons in one hike. If you’re not interested in hiking through Spooky, then you can easily return back through Peek-A-Boo which mostly has enough space for hikers to pass in both directions. The combination of Spooky and Peek-A-Boo makes for one of the best slot canyon experiences in Utah.

Tips:

  • If you are claustrophobic, this slot canyon may be the best way for you to experience a narrow canyon without worrying too much. Only the very end of Peek-A-Boo is very narrow, and at this point it is only about 8 feet (2.5 m) deep, allowing you to easily see the open area above the slot canyon.
  • Bring enough water but carry a small backpack. A large backpack is much harder to squeeze through the tight corners at the end of Peek-A-Boo.
  • There is weak to no cell reception on the hike with T-Mobile.
  • Best hiked between May and November, but accessible year-round.

Length/Time: 6.3 mile (10.1 km) loop, takes 3 hours

Hours: Open 24 hours a day

Cost: Visiting Peek-A-Boo Gulch is free.

Facilities: There are two outhouses at the trailhead.

Location: Peek-A-Boo Slot Canyon. The slot canyons is located along Hole-In-The-Rock Road, and require driving about one hour on dusty gravel roads. The roads are fine for a car when dry, but do not attempt to drive when the ground is wet as it instantly turns to slick mud. It is the same hike and trailhead as Spooky Gulch, above.

Zebra Slot Canyon – Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah

Generally speaking, slot canyons tend to have some of the most descriptive names of any of the hikes you can find. With Zebra Slot Canyon, it’s perhaps not surprising that you will find incredible stripes in the sandstone rock in the canyon. The slot canyon is not very long, but the unique features of the sandstone rock are worth the hike, plus it is easy to combine Zebra Slot Canyon with Tunnel Slot Canyon (listed below).

The parking lot is not signed, so it is easy to miss. To get there you drive 7.8 miles (12.6 km) down Hole in the Rock Road, which begins near the town of Escalante. The parking lot is on the right-hand side of the road, just after the 3rd cattleguard on Hole in the Rock Road. The trailhead is on the opposite side of the road.

Zebra Slot Canyon Utah

For most of the way, the trail is easy to follow through the wash. However, once you reach Harris Wash, there are multiple trails in all directions. To reach Zebra Slot Canyon, follow the left-most trail as you approach Harris Wash, and stay on this trail as long as possible. At some point the trail leads into Harris Wash, continue to follow it and you will shortly be at the entrance to Zebra Slot Canyon.

Zebra Slot Canyon is a relatively short slot canyon and has incredibly impressive striped canyon walls which will remind you of The Wave.

Once you have thoroughly explored Zebra Slot Canyon, exit into Harris Wash and follow the trails in the wash towards the left (South) for 20 minutes until you reach Tunnel Slot Canyon.

Tips:

  • Take a small backpack as the slot canyon is quite narrow. You can also leave your backpack at the entrance to the slot canyon.
  • Be prepared to wade through pools of water as you progress into Zebra Slot Canyon. Depending on the time of year, it may be too deep to make it through to the end.
  • There is weak to no cell reception on the hike with T-Mobile.
  • Best hiked between May and November, but accessible year-round.

Length/Time: 5.2 miles (8.4 km) return, takes 3-4 hours (excluding Tunnel Slot Canyon)

Hours: Open 24 hours a day.

Cost: Hiking Zebra Slot Canyon is free.

Facilities: There are no facilities.

Location: Zebra Slot Canyon

Tunnel Slot Canyon – Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah

Tunnel Slot Canyon is one of the more uniquely shaped slot canyons in southern Utah as it narrows significantly at the top, creating a tunnel effect.

It is highly recommended to complete both Zebra Slot Canyon and Tunnel Slot Canyon one after the other, as they are only an easy 20-minute hike apart. As you follow Harris Wash south from Zebra Slot Canyon, there is one clearly defined trail that follows the wash. Keep going on this trail for approximately 20 minutes until the first opening on your left. There will be another wash that you can walk up for another few minutes which ends at Tunnel Slot Canyon.

Tunnel Slot Canyon Utah

Tunnel Slot Canyon has a narrow base and very narrow top, but widens slightly in the middle, creating a tunnel effect. It is not an overly long slot canyon, and you can see from one end to the other, however water can still fill the bottom of the slot canyon sufficiently that you won’t be able to completely make it through to the end of the slot canyon.

Tunnel Slot Canyon Utah

Once you’ve thoroughly explored Tunnel Slot Canyon, head back along Harris Wash in the direction you came from, turning left to follow the trails back to the parking lot when you get closer to Zebra Slot Canyon.

Tips:

  • Take a small backpack as the slot canyon is quite narrow. You can also leave your backpack at the entrance to the slot canyon.
  • Be prepared to wade through pools of water as you progress into Tunnel Slot Canyon. Depending on the time of year, it may be too deep to make it through to the end.
  • There is weak to no cell reception on the hike with T-Mobile.
  • Best hiked between May and November, but accessible year-round.

Length/Time: 6.6 miles (10.6 km) return, takes 3-4 hours (inclusive of Zebra Slot Canyon)

Hours: Open 24 hours a day.

Cost: Hiking Tunnel Slot Canyon is free.

Facilities: There are no facilities.

Location: Tunnel Slot Canyon

Neon Slot Canyon – Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah

Neon Slot Canyon is one of the widest slot canyons on this list, especially the lower portion which is the only section that we recommend without serious rock-climbing skills. However, Neon Slot Canyon has a special surprise for those that make the trek. At the end of the lower portion of Neon Slot Canyon is the Golden Cathedral. The Golden Cathedral is a natural Amphitheatre and contains three separate natural rock bridges, formed by water eroding the rock above. At the right time of the day, sunlight can shine brightly through the arches, spectacularly lighting up the canyon.

Neon Slot Canyon in Utah

To reach the Golden Cathedral and Neon Slot Canyon, you first have to hike 4.5 miles (7.3 km) across the open desert. When you approach the entrance to Neon Slot Canyon, one or more water crossings will be required. The more conventional route involves five river crossings, however there are alternate trails that are more direct which only involve one river crossing. It can be fun to experience both trails by making a loop.

Be sure to have the AllTrails app downloaded prior to hiking as there is no cell reception. Using the app will allow you to figure out which of the many trails to take that criss-cross the open sand. The hike is unique in that the parking lot and trailhead is the highest elevation point, so you will hike downhill to the slot canyon, but your return, especially the last mile, is a strenuous uphill climb.

Golden Cathedral at Neon Slot Canyon Utah

If you are more adventurous and have rock climbing experience, you can explore the full length of Neon slot canyon. This involves ascending Choprock Bench to reach the upper Neon Canyon. It is technical and strenuous.

Tips:

  • Do not underestimate this hike. If attempted on a hot sunny day, you will be exposed to the elements for almost the entire 9.1 miles (14.6 km) return.
  • Leave mid-morning to see the sunlight shine through the Golden Cathedral, which happens around mid-day/early afternoon
  • Bring a snack to spend some time at the Golden Cathedral, the end of the lower section of Neon slot canyon. If you have a great singing voice, stand in the middle facing the cathedral and start singing – the acoustics here are incredible!
  • There is no cell reception on the hike with T-Mobile.
  • Best hiked between May and November, but accessible year-round.

Length/Time: 9.1 miles (14.6 km) return, takes 5-7 hours

Hours: Open 24 hours a day.

Cost: Hiking Neon Slot Canyon is free.

Facilities: There are no facilities at Neon Slot Canyon.

Location: Golden Cathedral / Neon Slot Canyon Trailhead. Follow signs to Egypt Trailhead, which is the same location.

Cottonwood Wash Narrows, Utah

Cottonwood Wash is one of the lesser known and less popular slot canyons in southern Utah to outsiders, but is popular with locals as it is relatively easy to access. It has a slightly different feel than the other, more famous, slot canyons.

The slot canyon is located along Cottonwood Canyon Road, and the entrance can easily be missed as signage is minimal, however there is a small parking lot which gives the entrance away. The Cottonwood Wash Narrows can be accessed from Highway 89 near Kanab, and driving 25 miles (40.2 km) north. Alternatively, it can be accessed driving south 22 miles (35.4 km) from Cannonville.

Cottonwood Valley Road is a dirt and gravel road that is easily driven in a car during good weather conditions, however can turn muddy and slippery very quickly when wet, which would require four-wheel drive.

Cottonwood Canyon Road in Utah

From the entrance, you have the option of heading north or south to explore the slot canyon. Heading north, there is only maybe 1,000 feet (300 m) of interesting slot canyon, however heading south there is about a mile (1.6 km) of slot canyon to explore.

Cottonwood Canyon Utah

Tips:

  • Make sure you bring plenty of water and food with you.
  • There is weak to no cell reception on the hike with T-Mobile.
  • Best hiked between May and November, but accessible year-round.

Length/Time: 3.2 miles (5.1 km) return, takes 2-3 hours

Hours: Open 24 hours a day

Cost: Hiking Cottonwood Wash Narrows is free.

Facilities: There are no facilities at the trailhead. The nearest outhouse is at Grosvenor Arch (5 miles or 8 km north), which is also worth a visit if you are in the area. Check out Grosvenor Arch as part of our list of the best Southwest USA road trip destinations.

Location: Cottonwood Wash Narrows

ARIZONA SLOT CANYON BONUS: Antelope Canyon, Arizona

There is nothing quite as magical as catching the sunrays as they shine through a slot canyon! Antelope Canyon is one of the most famous slot canyons in Arizona and the world, and despite its popularity is still worth a visit. You will need to book a tour to access the canyon and I recommend booking far in advance as the slot canyon can be incredibly busy, especially in summer.

Lower Antelope Canyon Arizona

You may not know this but there is an Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon in Arizona. Lower Antelope Canyon is slightly less busy and tours are cheaper. Both slot canyons are beautiful and you will get a similar experience regardless of which slot canyon you visit.

Sunrays shining through lower Antelope Canyon Arizona

Tips:

  • The tour moves quite fast and taking a lot of pictures can be difficult. If you’re planning to take photos, consider booking a tour first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon.
  • The light in the canyon is best around midday, which is also the busiest time to visit.
  • The descent into the canyon is a very steep staircase. Make sure you wear good shoes.
  • It can be incredibly windy in the slot canyon and especially when you exit. Expect to have sand blown everywhere.
  • This canyon is the most accessible and open year-round.

Length/Time: 0.5 miles (0.8 km) return, takes 1 hour

Hours: You cannot access Antelope Canyon without a tour. Daily tour hours are 7:30 AM – 5:45 PM.

Cost: Costs for a tour at lower Antelope Canyon starts at $40 for a 1-1.5 hours tour plus $8 Navajo Parks fee. Costs for a tour at upper Antelope Canyon starts at $54 for 1.5 hour tour plus $8 Navajo Parks fee. If you decide to take a tour of both Upper and Lower, you only pay the Navajo Parks fee once!

Facilities: There is a visitor center at the Antelope Canyon with washrooms.

Location: Antelope Canyon

NEVADA SLOT CANYON BONUS: White Domes Slot Canyon, Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

Not to be left out by the heavyweight slot canyon states of Utah and Arizona, Nevada also gets in on the action with a few desirable slot canyon hikes for itself. One of the best is the White Domes Slot Canyon located within the Valley of Fire State Park, less than an hour north of Las Vegas. While you are here exploring the slot canyon, be sure to check out all of the other amazing features of Valley of Fire State Park.

White Domes Slot Canyon Nevada

The White Domes trailhead is located at the end of the Mouse’s Tank Road in the park where there is a large parking lot. The trail begins with a short uphill section through loose sand, but then quickly descends into a canyon where the slot canyon begins.

It is relatively short compared to some of the extensive slot canyon networks in Utah, but the White Domes slot canyon is just as impressive, and the short 1.1 mile (1.8 km) loop also includes some historical sights and impressive rock formations in addition to the slot canyon.

Tips:

  • The desert here is extremely hot. Make sure to bring sufficient water and protection from the sun.
  • Begin hiking as early as possible in the morning to avoid being outside during the intense mid-afternoon heat.
  • There is reasonable cell reception in Valley of Fire State Park. Wi-fi is available at the visitor’s center.
  • Best hiked in May-June and September-October, to avoid the intense summer heat.

Length/Time: 1.1 miles (1.8 km) return, takes 30 minutes to 1 hour

Hours: The Valley of Fire State Park is open year-round from sunrise to sunset.

Cost: Entrance fee to the state park is $10 per vehicle.

Facilities: There is a washroom and picnic tables at the trailhead.

Location: White Domes Slot Canyon

Orange Rock Formations Utah

Slot Canyon Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the answers to the most frequently asked questions regarding slot canyon hikes in Utah, Arizona, and Nevada.

What is a Slot Canyon?

What makes a slot canyon unique compared to other canyons is that they are generally very narrow in width, ranging from just wide enough for a human to pass through to wide enough to drive a truck through. There is no specific definition, but most slot canyons have a depth-to-width ratio of over 10:1, sometimes approaching an incredible 100:1.

Slot canyons generally have smooth-sided walls with many twists and turns. The difficulties of hiking slot canyons can vary substantially, though most are easily explored via hiking, whereas some require more advanced canyoneering, rock scrambling, and rock-climbing skills.

How Are Slot Canyons Formed?

Slot canyons are formed over millions of years. A small crack or crevice may develop in the rock, and over time as water rushes through that crack it erodes the rock and the crack becomes larger and larger until a slot canyon is formed. Due to the canyons being formed from water erosion, it is also common for slot canyons to be filled with water or have rivers flow through them as we explore them today.

Are Slot Canyons Dangerous?

Yes! Slot canyons can be incredibly dangerous and deadly and should not be underestimated. There are multiple reasons why hiking in a slot canyon is dangerous, however with proper planning and know-how it can also be an incredibly safe and enjoyable experience. The top reasons why hiking in slot canyons can be dangerous are:

Too much water: The most dangerous aspect of slot canyons is that during a rainstorm, they can quickly experience a flash flood and fill with water. The narrow canyon walls and length of some of these slot canyons means that they can fill with water faster than you are able to reach the exit. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for hikers to die when there is a flash flood in a slot canyon. Even if it is not raining above you, it can be raining many miles away at a higher elevation, and the water will rush downhill through the slot canyon. It’s not unheard of for some slot canyons to instantly fill with more than 12 feet (3.7 m) of water, and you could be over a mile from the nearest exit.

Not enough water: With some of the longer hikes through slot canyons, such as Buckskin Gulch, sources of drinking water can be few and far between. Even if there is water in the slot canyons, the water is generally so silty and dirty that it is not advisable to drink. If you are planning a lot hike through a slot canyon, especially in the hot summer months, you need to plan out where you will get fresh drinking water ahead of time.

What Are Slot Canyon Safety Tips?

The number one safety tip when preparing to hike a slot canyon is to watch the weather forecast. If you are in monsoon season and it is raining at the slot canyon, or anywhere near the slot canyon within a number of miles it is best to avoid the slot canyon hike that day. The dry desert topography is primarily hard rock, and when rainfall hits the water has nowhere to go but downhill through the point of least resistance.

The slot canyons are deep areas which were created by water erosion, so they are already the lowest topographical point in their immediate area. When it rains, this is where the water goes. The top slot canyon safety tips are as follows:

– Watch the weather forecast and do not hike in a slot canyon when it is raining or there is a high chance of rain.

– Know the details of the slot canyon you are hiking before you go. For example, know how long it is and where the entry and exit points are. If you do end up getting caught in a flash flood you want to find the nearest exit as quickly as possible.

– Bring lots of drinking water. The slot canyons of Utah are in a dry desert area with little available drinking water, plan to bring all of the drinking water you will need.

– Wear solid footwear when hiking in the slot canyons. Many are filled with rocks and uneven surfaces. You may also need to scramble through some sections, which requires good grip from your hiking shoes.

– Wear proper attire for getting wet. Many slot canyons can be partially filled with water when you are hiking through them. If you are prepared with aqua shoes, waterproof clothing, or a towel to dry off after, this can go a long way to the enjoyment of the hike, especially in the colder months.

– Don’t hike alone, or at the very least tell someone where you are going and when you will be back. Some of the slot canyons can be challenging when scrambling over rock obstacles. It is best to have a hiking companion to help get through these obstacles together, and for safety.

Which Slot Canyon Will You Hike First?

Have you been to slot canyons? Which are your favorites? And which slot canyons would you hike first on this list? Let us know in the comments!

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17 Comments:

  1. I have to admit that I’ve seen pictures of Antelope Canyon but I didn’t know that slot canyons were what described it, or that there were so many others out there that are just as beautiful. I hope to get to Utah in the next year and I know I’m going to love exploring this state, especially with a handy guide like this one

  2. These are stunning! Your photos are just perfect with those blue skies and red rocks.

    I am really glad you included the safety tips as well. I was aware that they can be super dangerous in the rain, but it is always worth reiterating that!!

    • Thank you so much Josy! Yes they can be incredibly dangerous and definitely should be taken seriously. We sadly heard of a few accidents when we were in the area. Make sure you check the weather forecast and only go on a non-rainy day.

  3. These canyons are so impressive Bettina! I would love to see them and hike in the middle of them! They are super photogenic and the experience must be memorable!

  4. Wow, slot canyons are so impressive! I would love to visit them. Thank you for sharing the safety tips in the end, I would never have considered that rain miles away might affect the safety of the canyons.

    • Thank you Elina! Slot canyons are seriously amazing and I highly recommend visiting a few. My favorites are the Peek-A-Boo slot canyon and Antelope slot canyon. Definitely make sure to check the weather. Many people get caught in flash floods every year, sadly, and pass away.

  5. Loovee this post <3 Can't wait to be able to travel to the US again to visit ALL the NP ๐Ÿ˜€

  6. These hikes look really really awesome! Iโ€™d love to do some of them one day. Also I love the funny names of some of them ๐Ÿ˜€

  7. Slot canyons are so fascinating! I went canyoneering in the slot canyons in Zion National Park this past summer and it was absolutely amazing! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Omg that sounds amazing! Zion National Park is still on my bucket list. It was closed when we were there but I would love to go. I’m sure your experience was incredible!

  8. Tip for Antelope Canyon- if you book the more expensive photography tour (and being a tripod), you get more time in the canyon and the other tourists will give you a wide berth.

  9. Oh I wish I had read this article before my trip to the USA! I visited Zion but at as it was early in the year the Narrows were closed for hiking. Very extensive guide!

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