Arizona is famous for the photogenic Antelope Canyons, but there are some other nice slot canyons in Arizona that are worth seeing as well.
We traveled all over the state recently and visited many of the best slot canyons in Arizona, including the touristy Antelope Canyons in Page, plus some relatively unknown hikes that are off the beaten path even for most locals.
Some of these slots are easy hikes that you can do with kids, while others are a bit more challenging. Without further ado, here’s our complete list of the best Arizona slot canyons!
What Is A Slot Canyon?
A slot canyon is a narrow canyon passageway formed in rock (usually sandstone) that has been eroded by water over time, eventually creating a keyhole-like crack in the rock that is just wide enough for a person to fit through.
Side note: Always be aware of the weather forecast before entering a slot canyon. Do not enter 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.
15 Best Slot Canyons In Arizona
1. Antelope Canyon (Upper)
Upper Antelope Canyon is the most famous slot canyon Arizona has to offer, and it’s located on Navajo tribal land near the little town of Page, AZ.
This is a great canyon, but its popularity has brought some drawbacks with it. Guided tours are required to see Upper Antelope, and they sell out very easily since it’s a smaller canyon that’s super popular with photographers. You’ll normally have to book weeks or even months in advance to get a spot on a tour.
Upper Antelope is mainly known for its dramatic sunbeams, where rays of light shine through the narrow roof of the canyon, illuminating the dust in the air. It’s a neat effect, but personally I think it’s a little overrated, and I say that even as a photographer.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very nice slot canyon, but for most people (and especially first time visitors), I think Lower Antelope is probably a better choice.
Book Now: Upper Antelope Canyon Tour
2. Antelope Canyon (Lower)
The Lower Antelope Canyon is another spectacular section of Arizona’s most famous slot canyon.
Just like the Upper Canyon, a tour is required to see Lower Antelope, although it’s slightly cheaper and less likely to sell out. The tours are also less rushed in the Lower Canyon. This is because it’s a bigger canyon with more to see.
The Lower Canyon has wonderful colors, and it’s full of twisting passageways and interesting rock features that are great for photos.
We actually enjoyed the Lower Canyon more than the Upper. It’s extremely photogenic, and the tour is a better overall experience in many ways.
Book Now: Lower Antelope Canyon Tour
3. Antelope Canyon X
The main drawback of the Antelope Canyons is that they’re all located on Navajo land and they can only be seen with a guided tour.
However, Antelope Canyon X tours explore a new section that’s only been open to the public for just a few years, so it’s much less crowded and touristy compared to the main canyons.
Like the Upper and Lower Canyon, the Canyon X has great potential for photography. Since it’s a longer tour, you have more time and opportunities for photos. In fact, I took more pictures in Canyon X than I did in the other two Antelope Canyons combined!
This is a great canyon for first time visitors to Arizona, and the prices are actually cheaper than the main canyons since it’s not as well known yet.
Read More: Antelope Canyon X Review
Book Now: Antelope Canyon X Tour
4. Mountain Sheep Canyon
Mountain Sheep Canyon is another less known section of Antelope Canyon. In fact, it’s even less popular than the Canyon X mentioned above! Unfortunately, since it’s on Navajo land, a tour is still required to see it.
This slot canyon is a bit harder to access and requires more trekking than some of the others on this list, but it has some really nice sections, with dramatic grooves and patterns in the walls.
Book Now: Mountain Sheep Canyon Tour
5. Owl Canyon
Owl Canyon gets its name from the Great Horned Owls that are commonly seen nesting in the upper walls of the slot canyon. This is another part of the Antelope Canyon system, so a tour is required by the Navajos, although it’s usually not crowded.
The chambers in Owl Canyon are more shallow compared to the other Antelope Canyons, so it lets in light easily. That means you’ll want to go sometime when there isn’t direct sunlight, such as early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Wintertime or a cloudy day would be ideal for this one.
If you’re lucky, you may also get a nice photo of an owl in the canyon, although you’ll want a camera with a bit of zoom for that.
Book Now: Owl Canyon Tour
6. Rattlesnake Canyon
Rattlesnake Canyon is another stunning slot canyon near Page, with snakelike twisting passageways. There’s a nice sandstone arch inside the slot, and even the ladders in this canyon are photogenic.
Like the other Antelope Canyons, a tour is required by the Navajo owners, but at least it’s a private tour, so your group is the only one in the canyon. Rattlesnake Canyon is definitely one of the best Arizona slot canyons!
Book Now: Rattlesnake Canyon Tour
7. Secret Canyon
As you can tell by the name, Secret Canyon is another less known section of Antelope Canyon where you can escape the crowds. It’s still on Navajo land, so a tour is required like the other canyons, but oftentimes your group may be the only one in the canyon.
Many tours also combine this slot canyon with a visit to a private viewpoint at Horseshoe Bend, on a patch of Navajo land that’s away from the crowds and gives a slightly different perspective of the river bend.
The Secret Canyon has wonderful colors and curves in the walls, with lots of good photo ops. Don’t forget to look up!
Book Now: Secret Canyon Tour
8. Waterholes Canyon
The Waterholes Canyon is one of the least known sections of Antelope Canyon, and until 2018 you could still hike it independently by buying a cheap Navajo permit, but nowadays they only let you in with a guided tour.
It’s a beautiful slot canyon with some of the same scenery as the more popular Antelope Canyon sections, and there are both shallow and deep chambers, giving a nice variety of lighting conditions.
There are some ladders to pass, but they’re not difficult. If you want to see Antelope Canyon with as few other people as possible, this is probably the best place to do it!
9. Cathedral Wash
Now that we’ve covered all of the Antelope Canyons, let’s talk about a very different slot canyon in Arizona. Cathedral Wash is a scenic hike that ends with nice views of the Colorado River.
This hike is not the easiest and requires some scrambling and climbing. It can be a bit intimidating in spots, especially for shorter people. You don’t need technical skills to do it, but I wouldn’t recommend it for people with a fear of heights.
Choosing the right routes will make the hike a lot easier, and following the rock cairns will usually lead you in the right direction.
This hike is never too crowded, and the road to the trailhead is all paved and easy to reach. It’s located about 45 minutes west of Page, Arizona. You can also reach it from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in about 1.5 hours of driving.
The Cathedral Wash hike is normally accessed by driving through the Navajo Nation, but the canyon itself is not located in Navajo territory, so you don’t need a guided tour to see it. You can do the hike independently.
The trail is 3 miles roundtrip, with about 300 feet of elevation change. You’re descending on the way in, so the canyon walls will seem to gradually rise around you, getting steeper and more narrow and photogenic as you go.
At the end of the slot canyon, you get to enjoy great views of the Colorado River rapids and the rest of the canyon. Overall, it’s a fun and unique experience!
10. Spooky Canyon
Spooky Canyon is a cool little hidden canyon on the border of Arizona and Nevada, not too far from the iconic Hoover Dam. It’s a short and kid friendly canyon that you can finish exploring in about 40 minutes.
This was definitely one of our favorite Arizona slot canyons! As you can tell by the name, Spooky Canyon is a mysterious looking canyon and it’s also very photogenic, and you might see a few spider webs.
Some people have called this a mini Antelope Canyon, although I don’t know if I’d go that far. There are very few slot canyons that can compete with Antelope for beauty.
In any case, this spot is nice and still relatively unknown. We went on a weekday and it was completely empty and quiet.
There’s a wire fence you have to duck under to get to Spooky Canyon, but this is apparently to keep wildlife off the highway, not to block people from getting to the canyon. There are no ‘keep out’ signs.
However, this is an unmarked trail and the parking is easy to miss since it’s right off highway 93. You can find a map for the exact parking location here.
From the parking, just walk east against traffic on the desert side of the guard rail until you reach a hole in the fence. After crossing the fence, just walk down the hill for a minute and then you’re inside the slot canyon!
11. Arizona Hot Spring
The Arizona Hot Spring trail has a very unique slot canyon where you can swim in a natural hot spring! This one is located near the Arizona-Nevada state border, very close to the Spooky Canyon mentioned above.
At the end of the hike, there are several clear, warm soaking pools dammed with sandbags. Each pool has a different heat level, so you can try them and find the temperature you like!
The hike to the hot springs is about 6 miles roundtrip, with 1,200 feet of elevation gain. You’re descending on the way there, though, so the hardest part is going back.
Bring lots of water! Also note that this trail is closed seasonally from May 15 to September 30, because of the extreme summer heat in Arizona.
More Slot Canyons Near Arizona
The following places are some other slot canyons near Arizona that require a bit of driving. These ones are located in Utah, but most of them are less than 2 hours from Page, AZ, making them possible to visit on a day trip from Arizona if you don’t mind driving.
12. Buckskin Gulch & Wire Pass (Utah)
Buckskin Gulch is the longest slot canyon in the United States, and it’s believed to be the longest slot canyon in the world, at 21 miles! This one is located by the Utah-Arizona state border, about 1 hour of driving from Page, Arizona.
The Buckskin slot canyon is great for photos, and it’s also notable for having some Native American petroglyphs that are easy to reach. The best way to visit this slot canyon is by entering from Wire Pass, that way you get to see two slot canyons for the price of one!
We thought the slot canyon section at Wire Pass was even more photogenic than Buckskin. It’s narrow and the colors are terrific. There’s even a little wooden ladder that’s great for pictures.
Best of all, the Wire Pass slot dumps you right at the intersection of Buckskin Gulch where you can see some petroglyphs on the canyon wall.
Read More: Wire Pass To Buckskin Gulch
13. Red Canyon Slot / Peekaboo Kanab (Utah)
The Peekaboo Red Canyon is a wonderful slot canyon near Kanab, in southern Utah. It’s located about 1.5 hours from Page, Arizona.
The main challenge with this slot is the soft and deep sand on the road leading to it. You will need a true 4 wheel drive vehicle (not just AWD), and even then you will want to air down your tires and keep up momentum to avoid getting stuck in the sand.
Lots of people get stuck here because of the tricky conditions. Because of this, most people visit the Peekaboo Kanab slot with a Jeep tour or UTV tour where a professional company does the driving for you. I’ll include some tour recommendations below.
Some of these tours also combine the slot with a visit to the nearby Great Chamber, which is a photogenic cave-like spot near Kanab that’s also challenging to reach without a true off-road vehicle.
Alternatively, you can hike approximately 8 miles roundtrip to the slot from the 2WD parking area, and some people do this, but it’s a bit of a tough slog because of all the sand. You’ll need a map, sun protection, and lots of water.
The slot itself is beautiful and easy to walk through. It’s well worth the effort. This one is great for all ages, and if you don’t mind the driving distance then it’s definitely one of the most photogenic slot canyons near Arizona!
14. Red Hollow Canyon (Utah)
The Red Hollow Slot Canyon is a short and easy hike in Orderville, Utah, not too far from the popular Zion and Bryce national parks. It’s about 1.5 hours from Page, Arizona.
This is a very photogenic hike, with nice red rock colors and steep canyon walls. As a bonus, Red Hollow Canyon is easy to reach and great for kids.
There’s one very tight slot that’s great for chimneying or stemming, where you place your back against one wall and then push your feet on the other wall to cross the gap. This type of maneuver was new to us, but we had a lot of fun learning how to do it.
Even though Red Hollow is very short, it’s great for pictures. All in all, this was one of our favorite slot canyons near Arizona!
Read More: Red Hollow Slot Canyon
15. The Zion Narrows (Utah)
Of course I have to mention the mother of all slot canyons, the Narrows! This one is located in Utah’s Zion National Park, about 2.5 hours from Page, Arizona.
This is a giant gorge with walls a thousand feet tall, and the Virgin River flowing through it. Hiking the Narrows involves walking in water, and it’s 16 miles total.
The good news is that the Narrows is open to all fitness levels because you don’t have to hike to the end of the gorge. You can stop and turn around whenever you want.
It’s possible to hike the entire Narrows in one full day if you get a permit in advance, but most people just go partway and then turn back (no permit required for that).
The bad news is that the Narrows is getting extremely popular. The crowds kind of ruined it for us. If you’re really intent on seeing the Narrows without crowds, I’d recommend getting a permit and hiking it from the top down. Otherwise, you may want to go to one of the other places in this slot canyon guide.
Difficulty: Easy / Moderate
Arizona Slot Canyons Map
Here’s an Arizona slot canyons map you can use to plan your own road trip. You can click the icons to get directions and more info on each point of interest, but keep in mind some of the locations on this map may be approximate.
As always, please remember to keep the trail clean, be considerate of other hikers, and leave no trace. Thanks and happy travels!
Slot Canyon Arizona 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 Arizona, 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.
More Arizona Slot Canyon Guides
Thanks for looking! I hope you enjoyed this guide for some of the best slot canyons Arizona has to offer.