Slot Canyon Utah Guide: 15 Best Slot Canyons In Utah
This past summer we were able to go on a big road trip around the American Southwest while seeing many of the best slot canyons in Utah along the way, and afterwards we put together this slot canyon Utah guide!
Slot canyons are natural rock passageways with all different colors of red, yellow, pink, and purple, and some of them are so tight and awkward you have to walk sideways or crawl, like an adult playground. It’s a fun and unique hiking challenge.
This is not a complete list of all Utah canyons, or every slot canyon hike in the United States, but these are just some of the best slot canyons in Utah in our opinion. The places on this list stood out to us because they’re especially accessible, photogenic, colorful, or interesting!
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.
There are more than 1,000 slot canyons in the deserts of Utah, which actually has the densest collection of slot canyons in the world. Some of them are difficult to navigate and require technical skills, but many of them are family friendly and easy for beginners to hike.
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 Utah
1. Red Hollow Slot Canyon
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 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.
All in all, this was one of our favorite Utah slot canyons!
Read More: Red Hollow Slot Canyon
2. Buckskin Gulch
Buckskin Gulch is the longest slot canyon in the United States, and it’s believed to be the longest slot canyon in the world — 21 miles one way!
It’s located by the Utah-Arizona state border, so you can reach it in 1 hour of driving from the town of Page, Arizona, or about 2 hours from Zion National Park.
The Buckskin Slot Canyon is great for photos, and it’s also notable for having some 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!
Difficulty: Easy / Moderate
Read More: Wire Pass To Buckskin Gulch
3. Wire Pass Slot Canyon
Wire Pass is a side canyon that intersects with Buckskin Gulch, and it’s actually easier to enter Buckskin through this route, since you spend much less time walking in the hot sun.
We thought the slot canyon section at Wire Pass was quite a bit more photogenic than Buckskin itself. It’s narrow and the colors are terrific. There’s even a little wooden ladder that’s great for pictures.
Best of all, this slot dumps you right at the intersection in Buckskin Gulch where you can see some petroglyphs on the canyon wall. It’s definitely one of the top Utah slot canyons!
Read More: Wire Pass To Buckskin Gulch
4. Zion Narrows
Of course, the mother of all slot canyons — the Zion Narrows!
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 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).
The bad news is that the Narrows is getting extremely popular. The crowds kind of ruined it for us. Unless you’re really intent on seeing the Narrows, I would recommend going to one of the other places in this slot canyon Utah guide.
Difficulty: Easy / Moderate
5. Kanarra Creek
The Kanarra Slot Canyon is unique on this list for also having two waterfalls inside, and it’s also just a 1 hour drive from Zion National Park. It’s definitely one of our favorite Utah canyons.
The first waterfall is near the start of the slot canyon, and it’s easy to pass thanks to a new metal ladder that was just installed by the city. The second waterfall comes into view a bit later.
Overall, I’d probably rate this hike as easy, even though it’s a bit longer and has more elevation gain than the other hikes in this slot canyon Utah guide.
Unfortunately you have to pay for a permit to do the Kanarra Creek hike, and there are a limited number of permits available per day. These sell out often, so you’ll want to plan ahead.
6. Spring Creek Canyon
The Spring Creek Canyon is another nice slot canyon by the little town of Kanarra, located less than 1 hour from Zion National Park.
This one is a pretty easy hike, and it has bright reddish-orange rock colors that can be really stunning with the right amount of sunlight.
We did Spring Creek on a weekday and the trail was almost completely empty, so that’s another thing it has going for it!
7. Willis Creek Slot Canyon
The Willis Creek Slot Canyon is another short and easy trail through some scenic narrows in southern Utah, with wavy vanilla-colored rocks and impressive passageways.
This canyon is popular for horseback riding, and the whole trail is straightforward and pretty much flat, so overall I’d rank it as one of the easiest and most family friendly slot canyon hikes in Utah.
It’s located less than an hour from the popular Bryce and Escalante areas, so it’s definitely a good one to add to your Utah road trip!
Read More: Willis Creek Slot Canyon
8. Zebra Slot Canyon
The Zebra Slot Canyon is a spectacular passageway in Escalante, Utah, with wild rock colors and wavy zebra striped walls.
It’s one of the best slot canyons in Utah I’ve ever seen, although the tight Zebra Canyon is a bit tricky to navigate compared to other slots.
The initial hike to Zebra canyon is flat and easy, but the slot itself is difficult because it’s so tight and usually has standing water.
You don’t need any special gear or technical skills to do Zebra, but good fitness and prior experience in slots will help a lot, and you can’t be claustrophobic or afraid of wading through dirty water.
Read More: Zebra Slot Canyon
9. Peekaboo Slot Canyon
The Peekaboo Slot Canyon is like an adult playground, with lots of fun obstacles to cross and wonderful red rock walls to admire.
It’s one of the most gorgeous slot canyons in Utah, featuring a heart shaped passage and arch ceilings. It’s also moderately difficult, although beginners can still do it. The slippery ledge at the start of the slot is especially challenging, and could be dangerous if you fall.
Peekaboo Canyon is located in the Escalante area of southern Utah, about 1 hour from Bryce Canyon National Park. Escalante is also roughly halfway between Moab and Zion, so it’s a great place to add to your Utah road trip itinerary!
Read More: Peekaboo Slot Canyon
10. Spooky Slot Canyon
This is another crazy slot canyon located near Peekaboo, and most people do these two slots as a loop hike since they’re located so close together.
Spooky Canyon 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.
You don’t need any special gear or technical skills to do this slot, but you do need to be in good shape and not at all claustrophobic.
In spite of the difficulty and awkwardness, we still had tremendous fun doing this hike, and it’s undoubtedly one of the best slot canyons in Utah!
Read More: Spooky Gulch
11. Dry Fork Narrows
This is a third slot canyon you can visit as part of the Spooky/Peekaboo hike in Escalante.
In fact, there’s a second trailhead for the Spooky/Peekaboo canyons (called the Upper Dry Fork trailhead) that actually takes you right through the Dry Fork Narrows, that way you can see all three slot canyons in one loop hike!
The other good news is that the Dry Fork Narrows are wider and tamer than the slot canyons at Spooky and Peekaboo, so you can just relax and enjoy the scenery as you walk through.
Read More: Peekaboo And Spooky Slot Canyons
12. Little Wild Horse Canyon
The Little Wild Horse Canyon is a nice and easy slot canyon by the Goblin Valley State Park, about 2 hours from Moab, Utah.
This is a great one for beginners. It may not be the most impressive and colorful slot ever, but it’s still very photogenic and family friendly, and you can do it on a day trip from Moab.
Some people do this as a loop hike with Bell Canyon, which takes quite a bit longer, but the best parts of Little Wild Horse slot canyon can be seen in only an hour roundtrip, which is perfect for people wanting to skip to the good stuff.
13. Ding & Dang Canyons
This is another neat slot canyon hike located about 2 hours from Moab, but it’s not for beginners.
Ding & Dang Canyon requires some technical ability since there’s climbing and occasionally deep water.
There have been numerous rescues here, so I wouldn’t recommend going unless you have someone experienced to help.
14. Moonshine Wash
The Moonshine Wash is another scenic slot canyon located less than 2 hours from Moab, Utah. The solitude is one of the appealing features of this trek.
It’s a hidden gem located off the beaten path, so you aren’t likely to see many other hikers. The trailhead can also be a bit tricky to find the first time.
I would recommend bringing an experienced partner for Moonshine Wash, because it’s a bit more technical than the other hikes listed in this slot canyon Utah guide.
15. Antelope Canyon
Of course I can’t make a list of the best slot canyons in Utah without mentioning the famous Antelope Canyon!
This one is technically in Arizona, but it’s close enough to the Utah border that you can visit it from either state.
Antelope Canyon is a favorite with photographers, and for good reason. It’s spectacularly colorful and photogenic. It would be hard to take a bad photo here.
The only con is that it’s extremely popular, so a tour guide is required nowadays, and you might have to make a reservation months in advance.
Difficulty: Easy / Guided
Utah Slot Canyons Map
You can use this Utah slot canyons map to plan your road trip. Keep in mind some of the locations on this map are approximate.
For more information on how to find the exact trailheads for these Utah slot canyons, please check out my individual travel guides for each hike.
As always, please remember to keep the trail clean, be considerate of other hikers, and leave no trace. Thanks and happy travels!
Slot Canyons Near Zion
There are a bunch of good slot canyons near Zion National Park, and it’s possible to combine one or two of these with a visit to the park.
You may have to do a little bit of driving, but it’s worth it!
Here are some of the best Zion slot canyons:
- Keyhole Canyon (inside Zion National Park)
- The Narrows (inside Zion National Park)
- Red Hollow Canyon (30 miles east of Zion)
- Red Canyon Kanab (40 miles east of Zion)
- Spring Creek Canyon (45 miles northwest of Zion)
- Kanarra Creek & Falls (45 miles northwest of Zion)
- Buckskin Gulch & Wire Pass (90 miles east of Zion)
- Willis Creek Slot Canyon (100 miles northeast of Zion)
These are some of the best slot canyons near Zion. With a bit of exploring, you may be able to find others as well!
Slot Canyons Near Moab
Unfortunately there aren’t really many Moab slot canyons, and the Arches National Park doesn’t have any either.
However, there are some good slot canyons near Moab if you’re willing to drive:
- Professor Creek / Mary Jane Canyon (20 miles from Moab)
- Holeman Slot (60 miles southwest of Moab)
- Moonshine Wash (75 miles northwest of Moab)
- Crawford Draw (90 miles northwest of Moab)
- Furniture Draw (100 miles northwest of Moab)
- Little Wild Horse Canyon (105 miles west of Moab)
- Ding & Dang Canyons (110 miles west of Moab)
These are some of the best slot canyons near Moab. Most of these are non-technical, but a few are well off the beaten path, so they may put your navigation skills to the test.
Best Slot Canyon Utah Tours
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 though it's 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.