Peekaboo Canyon & Spooky Gulch: Utah Slot Canyon Hike
One of the best slot canyon hikes in Utah has to be the Spooky Gulch and Peekaboo Canyon hike, where you can see one, two, three, or even four amazing slot canyons in a single trail.
This is a moderate loop hike near Escalante that first takes you to Peekaboo Slot Canyon, which is one of the most beautiful slot canyons we’ve ever seen, and then Spooky Gulch, which is extremely tight and claustrophobic.
Last, but not least, when you visit the Peekaboo and Spooky slot canyons you also have the option to add on two more slots: Brimstone Gulch and the Dry Fork Narrows. That way you get to see four of the best slot canyons in Utah in one hike!
This guide and map will show how to do the Spooky and Peekaboo slot canyons hike, where to find the trailhead, and everything else you need to know before you go!
- Distance: 3.5 miles (5.5 km) round trip
- Elevation Gain: 300 feet (90 m)
- Duration: 3 – 4 hours round trip
- Difficulty: Moderate
What To Expect: Peekaboo And Spooky Slot Canyons
This hike takes you to a desert gulch with 4 different slot canyons: Dry Fork, Peekaboo, Spooky, and Brimstone.
The main reason people do this trail is to see the Peekaboo and Spooky slot canyons, which are especially amazing, but the other two slots are also nice if you have time.
The overall difficulty of this trail depends on which slots you do. The initial hike to the slots is flat and easy, but the slots themselves can be challenging (i.e. Peekaboo and Spooky).
If you’re new to slot canyons and just want an introduction (or if you’re bringing a dog), you can simply walk through the wide and easy Dry Fork Narrows slot for an out-and-back hike with nice beginner friendly views.
If you want something more exciting, you can continue to the Peekaboo and Spooky slot canyons loop, which is really spectacular, although it’s not good for pets.
These two slots are moderately difficult, but beginners can still do them. You don’t need any special gear or technical skills, but you do need to be in good shape and not at all claustrophobic.
One important thing to note is that BLM recommends going up Peekaboo slot canyon first and then down Spooky slot canyon.
It’s theoretically possible to do them in the opposite direction, but it’s harder, and you’ll have a problem when you run into other hikers doing the slots in the correct order. These are very tight slots so it’s not a good place to have a traffic jam.
Depending on when you go, and how much rain there’s been recently, you may also run into a bit of standing water or mud in the slot canyons, in which case you’ll have to do some extra gymnastics to pass.
The sections below explain each part of this trail and what to expect. The entire hike is so worth it!
• Trail Beginning
There are two different trailheads for the Peekaboo and Spooky slot canyons, so the route is slightly different depending on which one you use. I’ll share a map later in this guide.
Either way, you’ll start out on a plateau in the desert, and you have to hike down into a shallow gulch to reach the slot canyons.
The first part of the trail is on dirt and sand paths with some occasional slick rock, and you’ll see plenty of little stacked rock cairns to help you find your way.
This part of the hike is exposed to the sun, but it’s all downhill. A bigger challenge is going back up the hill later, because even though the elevation gain is mild, it’s a bit harder because of the heat.
Keep going downhill until you reach the sandy Dry Fork Wash, and then the trail flattens and you have access to 4 slot canyons within a short walking distance of each other!
• Dry Fork Narrows
The first slot canyon you’ll encounter on this hike is the Dry Fork Narrows.
If you’re coming from the Upper trailhead, you’ll actually pass through this slot on the way to the Peekaboo and Spooky slot canyons. If you’re coming from the Lower trailhead, you can still visit this slot, but it’ll require a bit of detouring — the exit from the Dry Fork Narrows is near the entrance to Peekaboo Canyon.
The path at the Dry Fork Narrows is wide and easy, so it’s perfect for slot canyon newbies and pets. This passage is bigger and tamer than the slot canyons at Spooky and Peekaboo, so you can just relax and enjoy the scenery as you walk through.
I have heard of people seeing rattlesnakes in this slot, so you’ll want to watch your step and keep your eyes on the trail, but we didn’t see any snakes ourselves.
The slot section of the Dry Fork Narrows lasts for about 0.5 miles and then ends at the sandy wash, after which you can return to the trailhead, or walk 150 yards to the Peekaboo Canyon entrance to continue the adventure.
• Peekaboo Slot Canyon
The Peekaboo Slot Canyon is where things really start to get interesting!
This is like an adult playground, with lots of fun obstacles to cross and wonderful red rock walls to admire.
Even though it’s a short slot, I think it’s one of the most beautiful slot canyons in Utah, featuring a heart shaped rock passage and rose colored arch ceilings.
It’s also moderately difficult, although beginners can still do it.
The steep climb at the beginning of Peekaboo Canyon (pictured below) is the hardest part.
It’s a slickrock ledge about 15 feet tall, and there isn’t much to hold. This part could be dangerous if you fall, but as long as you have shoes with good grip you should be okay.
The subsequent obstacles in Peekaboo Canyon are easier and more enjoyable.
Short people will have a harder time with the first ledge and the subsequent obstacles in Peekaboo slot canyon, because they all involve some climbing and the rocks are a bit slippery.
My wife is 5’2, and Peekaboo Canyon was challenging for her, but she made it with a bit of support. Having two people helps a lot because you can pass backpacks, give each other a hand, or spot each others’ footing.
The good news is that Peekaboo Canyon is not as tight as Spooky Gulch, which you’ll do afterwards. This one is pretty roomy.
There is plenty of space to hang out and admire the scenery in this one, and each chamber seems better than the last.
When you reach the top of Peekaboo slot canyon, the path will widen dramatically and you’re back in the sunshine.
Keep going until you reach the sandy wash, which signals that you’ve reached the end and it’s time to cross over to Spooky Gulch. This part is easy to get lost because the trail is unmarked except for rock cairns, and there are lots of paths from lost hikers leading in all directions.
You need to walk east in a straight line for about 0.5 miles, and then you’ll come upon another sandy wash, which is the start of Spooky Gulch.
The entrance to Spooky slot canyon is marked with a pin on Google Maps called ‘Spooky Gulch Top’.
• Spooky Slot Canyon
Take a deep breath of fresh air, because this is your last moment of freedom for awhile! Spooky Gulch is only about 600 yards long, but it feels much longer because of how cramped it is.
This slot 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.
Your knees and elbows, clothes, and any other gear you’re carrying will get pretty scraped up as you go.
Again, you don’t need any special gear or technical skills to do Spooky Slot Canyon, but you do need to be in good shape and not at all claustrophobic.
There are a few moments where the slot widens and you can let people pass you, but for the most part this slot is the width of a person or less.
Even though Spooky Gulch isn’t as beautiful as Peekaboo Canyon in my opinion, it’s still an amazing slot with a bunch of photogenic areas.
At one point, there’s even a little natural arch inside the slot!
There is one tough obstacle at Spooky slot canyon that involves dropping about 10 feet down a narrow opening between boulders while holding a rope (pictured below).
The best way to do this is to put your back flat against the nearest rock wall, place your feet on the opposite wall, and then inch your way down while holding the rope.
Another obstacle at Spooky slot canyon requires you to descend through a skinny crack in the ground. This part was so tight it actually didn’t even look possible to us at first!
However, as you start to wedge your body into the gap you’ll notice it has a bit more wiggle room than it seemed at first glance. Crazy!
In spite of the difficulty and awkwardness, we still had a blast doing this hike, and it’s undoubtedly one of the most fun hikes in Utah!
When you reach the end of Spooky slot canyon, you can retrace your steps to the trailhead, or continue to a fourth slot canyon called Brimstone Gulch.
Most people call it quits at this point, but I’ll include some info for Brimstone Slot Canyon below in case you’d like to continue the adventure.
• Brimstone Slot Canyon
Brimstone Gulch is a fourth slot canyon you can visit on this hike if you’re still feeling energetic.
As you exit Spooky Gulch, walk east in the sandy wash for about 1 mile until you reach the entrance to Brimstone Gulch, which will be a wide side canyon on your left. From this canyon, walk another 0.7 miles to reach the Brimstone slot canyon.
This is a very tight slot frequented by rattlesnakes and occasionally holds a long pool of water, so be careful. The walls of this slot are picturesque, but darker and less colorful than Peekaboo slot canyon or even Spooky Gulch.
Brimstone Gulch eventually shrinks to a slot just 6 inches wide, at which point it becomes basically impassable and you’ll have to retrace your steps.
Peekaboo & Spooky Map
Here is a map of the Peekaboo and Spooky slot canyons, with the main trail routes highlighted in red.
Not shown on this map is the Brimstone Gulch, which is a bit further east of Spooky slot canyon.
Peekaboo & Spooky Trailhead Location
There are two different trailheads for this hike: Upper Dry Fork trailhead or Lower Dry Fork trailhead.
The Upper Dry Fork trailhead is a better choice in my opinion, because it takes you right through the Dry Fork Narrows (another slot) on the way to Peekaboo and Spooky, and that also means more time walking in the shade.
The Lower Dry Fork trailhead is slightly closer to the slot canyons, but it’s more exposed to the sun. It also takes an extra 15 minutes of driving on bumpy roads. If you start from this trailhead you can still visit the Dry Fork Narrows slot canyon, but it’ll require a bit of detouring.
- Upper Dry Fork Trailhead: 37.479149121392624, -111.24137861032003
- Lower Dry Fork Trailhead: 37.47726316541605, -111.22028826343339
The best place to base yourself for this hike is the town of Escalante, Utah, which is just 1 hour away and has plenty of camping and hotel options.
The last part of the drive to the Peekaboo and Spooky trailheads involves 1 hour on a very bumpy back road (BLM200/Hole in the Rock Rd).
This is pretty much the bumpiest washboard road I’ve ever seen (absolutely atrocious), but I think you could do it in any vehicle as long as the road is dry and you take your time.
I wouldn’t try to come here after rain unless you have a capable vehicle. You can check the latest road conditions here.
When you arrive at either of the trailheads, there are vault toilets, information signs, and a trail map. Both of the Dry Fork trailheads were upgraded by BLM in 2020.
As always, please remember to keep the trail clean, be considerate of other hikers, and leave no trace. Thanks and happy travels!
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.
Where To Stay
More Things To See Nearby
The Spooky and Peekaboo slot canyons are part of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah, so there are lots of great attractions nearby!
Another amazing slot canyon to check out in the area is the Zebra Slot Canyon, which is located just a 30 minute drive from this one on the same road.
There’s also the Devils Garden nearby, which is a neat family friendly spot where you can see some nice hoodoo rock formations without any hiking.
More Utah Slot Canyon Guides
I hope you enjoyed this guide for the Peekaboo and Spooky slot canyons hike in Escalante, Utah.
Don’t forget to check out my complete Utah Slot Canyon Guide to see more of the best slot canyons in Utah!