|

14 Breathtaking Slot Canyons in Utah You Can’t Miss

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure for more information.

Utah is known for having some of the most unique landscapes in the United States! With everything from unique hikes to slot canyons in Utah, the state truly does have it all, and you’ll feel like you’re exploring another planet.

Throughout this post, you’ll get a glimpse into the most amazing Utah slot canyons that you can’t miss. They’re scattered all over the state, so no matter where you’re visiting, you should be able to find one nearby that you can take a quick trip to.

Visiting these slot canyons allows you to witness some of the most unique parts of nature that the southwest has to offer. Plus, you can easily visit them if you’re visiting the national parks in Utah, like Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Arches, or even Canyonlands!

So, what are you waiting for? Keep reading to learn more about the best slot canyons in Utah!

Tips for Visiting Utah Slot Canyons

Please, Check the Weather!

Slot canyons can be extremely dangerous if you’re not careful. You need to check the weather ahead of time to beware of flash floods. If there is any type of bad rain anywhere in the area, it’s best to just skip out on visiting a slot canyon to be safe. If a flash flood hits when you’re in the canyon, the odds of survival are low, unfortunately.

Avoid Slot Canyons in the Dead of Summer

If the temperatures are going to be extremely hot, or if you’re visiting in the middle of summer, think twice about going to a slot canyon, unless you’ll be hiking in the early morning. The canyons can get extremely hot, and even if you think you’ll be okay because of the shade, think again!

Don’t Go Alone

Always hike with a buddy. Even though slot canyons don’t always have “hikes,” it’s best to go with someone just in case something happens, or if you start to feel uncomfortable because the canyons can feel claustrophobic, especially if you do one that’s super narrow.

Wear Proper Footwear

Don’t try to explore the canyons in sandals, please! You’ll seriously regret it. Sneakers are okay, but it’s best to wear a type of hiking boots so that you won’t be slipping and sliding. If you’ll be doing a slot canyon hike that requires you to go in the water, make sure your shoes are waterproofed.

Here are some hiking boots similar to the ones that we use + love. These ones are great because depending on your color choice, you can get them for less than $100!

Bring Lots of Water

It’s best to bring more water than you think that you’ll need because it can get super warm during the day. The desert temperatures can be brutal, and it’s best to bring two water bottles per person to be safe!

Our preferred water bottle of choice is a Hydroflask 32oz because it can hold so much water and it stays cold if you fill it with ice. Click here to learn more about our fave water bottle!

Wire Pass Trail in Kanab

sandstone canyon walls with no people

First up is the Wire Pass Trail in Kanab, Utah! This is one of the more popular and well-known slot canyons in Utah, but don’t let that deter you. It’s popular for a reason because it’s so epic and is one of the easier hikes!

Wire Pass Trail is in the Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness Area and is right near Buckskin Gulch. In fact, there’s even a trail that connects the two if you want to do them both in one go during your visit to Utah.

The trail is about 3.7 miles long and it’s an out and back trail that’s perfect for mid-level hikers. There’s barely any elevation gain, so the majority of the hike is flat. There are great views, it’s dog-friendly, and it’s the perfect way to get up close to a slot canyon. The trail is also kid-friendly.

One thing to keep in mind is that the trail starts out fairly wide, so if you’re claustrophobic, you can witness the cliffs and just turn around before it starts to get smaller and tighter. The farther on the trail you go, the narrower it gets!

The Narrows in Zion National Park

river going through a canyon in zion

Another great canyon in Utah is The Narrows in Zion National Park. This is one of the most well-known Utah canyons and is the most hiked out of all the ones on this list. Because of that, plan on hiking this slot canyon in the morning if you can to avoid the trails as much as possible.

Don’t let the popularity of the Zion Narrows Trail fool you; this is one of the harder slot canyon hikes. It’s about 9.5 miles long and has around 350 feet of elevation gain, but you’ll be hiking through water almost the entire time. At some points, the water can even reach up to your thigh.

The trail is also an out and back trail, so you can turn back at any time because the view does generally stay the same the entire way. However, the further you go, usually the fewer people there are, so you can witness the slot canyon in all of its glory.

If you have the opportunity to hike the Narrows, you truly won’t regret it. Many people even say that it’s the best hike they’ve ever done, so it’s one that’s absolutely unforgettable.

Little Wild Horse Bell Canyon near Goblin Valley

person hiking through a slot canyon on a trail

Little Wild Horse Bell Canyon is a great slot canyon to visit in Utah. It’s a bit longer, so it’s around 8 miles, but it’s a loop trail so you won’t have to retrace your steps to head back. There’s also an elevation gain of around 800 feet.

This moderate trail does allow dogs on a leash but there is some scrambling involved. On average, the hike takes about 4-5 hours to complete, depending on how many times you stop along the way!

The hike is not super difficult and is a great first slot canyon to visit if you’ve never been to one before. To avoid having to scramble downhill a lot, consider hiking counterclockwise. If you don’t mind going downhill a lot, you can go clockwise!

Along the hike, you’ll get incredible views of the slot canyon. Be sure to pay attention to the signs along the way so that you can learn more about the area as you go and not get lost.

Zebra Canyon in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

rock walls with zebra stripes

Next up is another of the best Utah slot canyons, Zebra Canyon! This is a super unique canyon because the walls look just like a zebra, which is where it got its name. It’s definitely a stand-out choice if you have limited time to see slot canyons in Utah.

The Zebra Canyon Trail is about 5 miles long, and it’s an out and back trail, just like many other slot canyons on this list. It has minimal elevation gain, at just shy of 400 feet. It’s a moderate-rated trail and dogs are allowed on a leash.

This canyon is prone to getting filled with water, so be sure to check the weather before you start your trek. Even if it rained a few days before, you may want to avoid Zebra Slot Canyon or you’ll possibly be wading in water during the hike, which isn’t fun.

Throughout the hike, there are many cairns that help to mark the way so that you don’t get lost. It can get very hot in the summer because a lot of it isn’t shaded either, so be prepared if you plan to do this awesome hike!

Peekaboo Slot Canyon in Dry Fork

Next is Peekaboo Canyon Kanab! This canyon is also often called Red Canyon and is a moderate trail that will truly take your breath away. Peekaboo Slot Canyon Kanab can be reached by a moderate trail that’s about 8.7 miles long and has around 650 feet of elevation gain.

This trail is out and back, so you can truthfully turn back at any time if you’d like for it to be a bit shorter. However, because of the beauty of the canyon walls here, you probably won’t want to, unless it’s too hot!

Dogs are allowed on the trail as long as they’re on a leash and the trail is also kid-friendly. Note that depending on the time of day, there isn’t always a lot of shade, so plan the time of day that you do the trail wisely.

The majority of the Peekaboo Canyon Utah has great lighting, but some parts of it do get pretty dark. However, if you change your camera settings depending on the lighting, then you can still get some pretty awesome shots.

Willis Creek Canyon in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

empty willis creek canyon

One of the slot canyons in Utah that’s a bit less traveled is Willis Creek Slot Canyon. The trail is very casual, and even though it has about 1200 feet in elevation gain, it’s rated as easy for hikers and is kid- and dog-friendly.

The trail is just shy of 6 miles long and is an out and back trail located in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. If you want to avoid the heat that Utah is pretty well known for, start the hike early in the day!

Compared to other Utah canyons, this one is relatively easy. You don’t even have to walk super far into the canyon to get great views, so similar to others on this list, you can turn around whenever you’d like if you prefer.

If you don’t like cold water, make sure you’re prepared, because your feet can get cold because of the water along the trail. You may want to make sure your shoes are waterproofed to be safe.

Joint Trail in Canyonlands National Park

tiny trail through rocks

Many people don’t know that Canyonlands National Park actually has a slot canyon trail! The trail is about 4 miles long with 600 feet of elevation gain. It’s a moderate trail that’s out and back, so you can turn around at any time to make it shorter if you’d like.

One thing to know about the Joint Trail is that it’s actually a part of the Chesler Park Loop Trail, and that this is only a section of it. As you might imagine, the Joint Trail is the most popular part of this longer 11-mile hike, because it goes right through a narrow crack inside a rock!

This trail is not the easiest to get to, as it’s in part of the park that you have to reach using a 4×4. The drive out to it takes around 3 hours. If you can’t do that drive, then it’s best to just witness the Joint Trail as part of the Chesler Park Loop so you don’t have to drive all the way out to witness it.

Keyhole Canyon in Zion National Park

person rappelling down canyon walls

One of the best canyons in Utah is Keyhole Canyon which is located inside Zion National Park. It’s fairly short at only 0.8 miles, but it’s actually a very hard hike that’s recommended only for people with lots of hiking experience.

As the name suggests, the canyon is a bit of a keyhole, meaning that you do have to climb down into the canyon by rock climbing, as the photo above shows. You do have to scramble a bit and it can be rocky, so you have to be prepared.

The trail is a loop trail with about 200 feet of elevation gain, and because of the type of canyon it is, you’ll want to check the weather before you start the hike. Be sure to also purchase some neoprene socks, just like you would for the Narrows because it can get extremely cold.

To do this hike, you also have to make sure you bring all the necessary equipment to rappel down into the canyon. If you’re safe, you’ll truly have a blast because of the beauty. It’s one of the Utah canyons you won’t want to miss!

Red Cliffs Hiking Trail in St. George

For an easy hike through a Utah slot canyon, consider doing the Red Cliffs Hiking Trail. It’s a different type of wider slot canyon, so it’s a bit different from others on this list, but is still just as breathtaking.

The trail starts pretty wide, and the further you go, the narrower it gets. If you don’t like being in tight spaces, don’t worry; you can turn around at any time if you get uncomfortable during the hike!

Definitely make sure that you have shoes that are waterproof because the trail goes right by a stream and your feet can get wet. Once you reach the waterfall, you’ve reached the end of the trail. There’s also a spot nearby that many people like to swim in when doing this hike!

In total, this out and back trail is only about 1.5 miles long. It’s not often hiked, so you may luck out and find not many people are on the trail, depending on the time of year you hike it. The trail is also located near Red Cliffs Campground.

Buckskin Gulch in Kanab

empty slot canyon with lots of shade

Next is Buckskin Gulch Utah! This is one of the more well-known canyons and is right near Wire Pass Trail. The best way to do this trail is to combine it with Wire Pass Trail, but you can also hike and just turn around at any time that you’d like.

The Buckskin Gulch to Wire Pass Trail is about 11 miles long but it does have around 1200 feet of elevation gain, so keep that in mind. The trail is an out and back trail that’s perfect for hikers with a moderate level of experience.

The trail is dog-friendly and is part of Paria Canyon, which is the longest slot canyon in the entire world. Because of that, this trail can get pretty busy depending on the time of year that you visit to do the hike.

Quite a bit of the hike has a decent amount of sand which can make the hike a bit harder. There is also less shade at the beginning of the hike, and then as it goes on, you get more and more shade, which helps especially if it’s pretty warm during your trip.

Ding and Dang Canyons in Green River

Who wouldn’t want to hike canyons with names like this? These are some of the canyons of Utah that you won’t want to miss, and they’re located right near the Green River! As you might imagine, the views in these canyons are incredible.

The Ding and Dang Canyons Trail is ranked as difficult and is just shy of 6 miles long. The trail is a loop trail with about 650 feet of elevation gain. Some sections of the trail are supposedly dog-friendly, but parts of it do require some rock climbing, so keep that in mind.

As far as climbing goes, most of the trail parts that you have to climb are about 15 feet or less, but most people say no rappelling or technical gear is required to do these. You may still want to bring a rope though just to be safe so you can have something to hold onto while going down.

If you’re doing the park not that long after rain, just know that it can be rather wet within the canyon and it can even get as high as your knees! So, be prepared if you’re doing this slot canyon hike in Utah.

Leprechaun Canyon near Hanksville

rock formations in utah

Leprechaun Canyon near Hanksville is in the Fiddler Butte Wilderness Study Area in Utah. It features a gorgeous slot canyon that can be reached with a 2-mile hike and around 150 feet of elevation gain.

This is a loop trail, so you’ll have different views the entire way that you’re hiking. It’s also a moderate trail, so it’s doable for most hikers who have some experience, especially with rock climbing! However, this trail is not dog-friendly and there’s not a whole lot of shade.

The lower part of the canyon is more accessible if you choose to go from the bottom up, but there is still some climbing that can be tricky if you’re not used to climbing rocks. You may also want to be more prepared and make sure you have technical gear for some of the climbs!

Parts of the canyon here do get extremely narrow, so if you bring a backpack, make sure there’s not much in it! Some hikers have had to climb up a bit to climb around spots that get really narrow in order to continue on through the hike.

The Subway in Zion National Park

subway hike in zion with pools of water

If you want to check out Zion National Park and you want a place that isn’t as frequented as The Narrows, consider checking out the Subway, which is also sometimes called Left Fork. Keep in mind that this is a hard slot canyon to explore and a Wilderness Permit is required to visit the area because you do have to canyoneer a bit.

The more popular way to explore The Subway is to do the top-down route, which is about 9.5 miles long. This is a full-day hike that includes rappelling, swimming, and lots of patience. You truly won’t be bored at all during this trial, but it can be difficult if you’re not experienced.

Another option is to do the bottom-up route, which is only a half-mile shorter at 9 miles long. You do have to hike through water that will fully cover your feet and also climb over big rocks which can be wet on the route. This route is still difficult but doesn’t include rappelling.

Getting a Wilderness permit can be difficult in Zion, but they do run a lottery for getting reservations between April and October. You should submit your application at least two months in advance and be okay with having three different date options to make your odds better.

Burro Wash Slot Canyon in Capitol Reef National Park

Last but not least is Burro Wash Slot Canyon in Torrey, Utah. This is another canyon that can be best witnessed by going on a hiking trail, and it’s located right inside Capitol Reef National Park, one of Utah’s Mighty 5.

The Burro Wash Trail is moderate and is just shy of 8 miles long. It’s an out and back trail that does have quite a bit of elevation gain, around 1000 feet! There’s not much shade along the way and the hike is not dog-friendly.

This is one of the longer slot canyons in Utah that you can explore and also one of the ones that are not as busy, so oftentimes you’ll find that you even have a lot of it just to yourself. If you’re the kind of person who likes a bit of a challenge, then you’ll love this slot canyon.

Along the way, there are some small climbs that can be a little challenging, so keep that in mind. If you’re scared of heights, this may be a slot canyon you want to skip. However, if you can get over some of the tricky climbs, you’ll be rewarded with lots of beauty in the cliff walls.

This post was all about the best slot canyons in Utah! Don’t forget to share this post for later!

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is a slot canyon?

A slot canyon is a narrow canyon that has been carved out by water over time. These canyons are often only a few feet wide but can be hundreds of feet deep. Slot canyons are found all over the world, but are especially common in the southwestern United States.

What are the canyons in Utah?

There are many canyons in Utah, but some of the most popular ones are in Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Canyonlands National Park. Each of these canyons has its own unique beauty and offers different opportunities for exploration and adventure.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.