No trip to Utah would be complete without stopping at a few Utah slot canyons along the way! With over 1,000 slot canyons, Utah is the perfect destination for anyone looking for a slot canyon adventure.
This post has a round-up of eleven of Utah’s best slot canyons. Several are slot canyons that I have been to personally, and other travel bloggers recommended the others, which are now on my bucket list.
I hope you enjoy this post and find a few Utah slot canyons to add to your bucket list! Ok, let’s dive right in.
The Subway (Zion National Park)
The Subway hike in the Zion Wilderness is one of the best slot canyons in Zion National Park. This uniquely shaped slot canyon has a smooth surface like an underground tunnel that is 0.25 miles (0.40 km) long. It’s undoubtedly one of the most impressive Utah slot canyons.
But you must have a wilderness permit to get there. Also, the trek is challenging and requires some preparation. You can experience the Subway, known as the Left Fork of North Creek, in two ways; canyoneering and hiking, and both require permits.
The first option is the Bottom-Up Hiking Route to the Subway. It is a strenuous 9-mile round-trip hike. There is no marked trail, so you must find the route along the Left Fork of North Creek, hiking in deep water and scrambling over slippery boulders. Drive to Left Fork Trailhead on Kolob Terrace Road. You can reach the parking lot in a regular car. It takes at least 7-9 hours to complete the trek, so start early in the morning. Staying overnight is prohibited.
The second option is the Top-Down Canyoneering Route to the Subway. But it is much more challenging, as it’s a semi-technical trek. You must have 60 feet of rope and know how to use it. You will have to swim through several pools of cold water as well. There are no marked trails, so you need to find the route. The hike is 9.5 miles long and starts at the Wildcat Canyon Trailhead.
Before you go, check the weather. Pay attention to flood hazards, flow rate, the water level, especially in the spring and summer months.
Peekaboo Slot Canyon
Peekaboo is one of Utah’s most beautiful slot canyons. Also known as Red Canyon, Peekaboo Slot Canyon is located outside Kanab, Utah, on BLM land. Although you can reach this slot canyon with an 8-mile out & back trail, it is easier to reach it by vehicle. If you attempt on your own, you will need a 4WD vehicle as the sand on the trail is quite deep in places.
We chose to take an ATV tour out to the canyon. Not only was it a great way to reach Peekaboo Slot Canyon, but it was also a lot of fun! We used Kanab Tour Company, although there are several options to choose from.
Peekaboo Slot Canyon is quite impressive! The color of the canyon is a deep orange/red that catches the sunlight and appears to glow. Although there are a few narrow spots, most of the canyon is wide enough to walk through comfortably.
Most people hike as far as the first obstacle and then turn around. If you’re up for the challenge, you can climb up and over to continue your exploration. The sandy road deters many visitors, making it likely you will have the canyon to yourself. Definitely add this Utah slot canyon to your bucket list!
Read next >>> 18 Incredible Utah Bucket List Destinations <<<
Antelope Canyon X
Hiking in a slot canyon is a must-do activity when exploring Utah, where you’ll find several options for slot canyon hikes. If you have the time to drive a little more south at the border of Utah and Arizona, you’ll find one of the most popular slot canyons: Antelope Canyon.
Many people visit Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon, but Antelope Canyon X is worth a visit, especially if you’re traveling with kids. Note that there are a few stairs to get into the canyon, but most people will be able to complete this slot hike.
Taadidiin Tours is the only tour operator offering hiking and photography tours of Antelope Canyon X. Antelope Canyon X is a smaller canyon located at the start of the famous Antelope Canyon (the same canyon as the Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon tour). Like all other Antelope Canyon slot hiking, it’s only possible to visit Antelope Canyon X with a tour guide.
Make sure to reserve your tour in advance as it is popular. But it’s nothing compared to the overcrowded Upper and Lower Canyon. Taadidiin Tours is still a new business, and you should have no trouble finding a time slot that fits your busy travel schedule. On our visit, we booked only a few days in advance.
Antelope Canyon X is located on the Navajo Reservation, which observes Daylight Saving Time, the same as Utah. But the rest of Arizona doesn’t observe Daylight Saving Time. Double-check the time so you don’t miss your reservation if you are traveling during Daylight Saving Time and are staying in Arizona. If you’re visiting directly from Utah, you’ll be fine.
Buckskin Gulch Slot Canyon
Located in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Area, Buckskin Gulch is a beautiful hiking trail less than one hour from Kanab, Utah. You will need to pay for a permit to hike this trail which can be purchased online or at a local BLM office.
One great thing about this trail is that dogs are allowed. They must, however, be kept on a leash at all times. Also, remember to take bags to clean up your pet’s waste. You will have to pay for permits for each dog as well.
The Buckskin Gulch trail is over 11 miles long out & back and takes 4-5 hours to complete in its entirety. We chose to hike the portion leading to Wire Pass, which was beautiful.
This trail can be scorching, especially in the summer. Be sure to come prepared with plenty of water and wear a hat if you are hiking during the day when there is little to no relief from the scorching hot sun.
Read next >>> 8 of the Best Hiking Trails in Arches National Park <<<
Kanarra Creek Canyon
The Kanarra Creek Canyon Waterfall hike offers a smaller yet still thrilling slot canyon experience right next to its famous neighbor, The Narrows of Zion National Park – only with fewer tourists! Embark on a journey along a 3.7-mile moderately easy, out-and-back hike through towering canyon walls and a picturesque ladder that leads to the Kanarra Creek Waterfall.
The Kanarra Creek Canyon Waterfall is located about halfway between St. George and Cedar City and is considered one of the best hikes in the surrounding Kanab area. Visitors reach the start of the slot canyon by following a trail along a creek from the parking lot.
Hiking to the second ladder is a common spot for hikers to turn back, and completing the hike to this point takes an average of 2-3 hours. Those who continue their exploration of the depths of Kanarra Creek will face unavoidable ankle-to-knee-deep chilly water and challenging log ladders further up the stream.
For the most enjoyable and comfortable hike, visiting Kanarra Canyon during spring or summer is highly recommended; when temperatures are warmer, the creek’s waters won’t be as cold as in winter. To have ideal sunshine positioning on your slot canyon adventure, plan to arrive at the entrance around mid-day.
A $12/person fee will grant you access to Kanarra Creek Canyon. Since it’s limited to 150 permits per day, you should secure your ticket online first.
Grand Wash (Capitol Reef National Park)
This beautiful slot canyon is located in Capitol Reef National Park. We stumbled across this trail when we hiked to Cassidy Arch Trail, as they share the same trailhead. The Grand Wash Trail (via the Capitol Reef Scenic Drive) is just shy of 7 miles out & back and takes about 2 1/2 hours to complete.
This is one of the more popular trails in Capitol Reef, and as per most national parks, dogs are not permitted. You will want to bring plenty of water along and dress in layers if you’re visiting in the winter.
The canyon walls are especially unique. The colors appear to change depending on the time of day, and the walls have a beautiful striped look. There are also sections of the canyon with unique cutouts in the walls that appear as small caves. Some are even large enough to get inside!
Plan to visit this trail early in the morning for the most peace and quiet. This trail gets busy in the afternoon!
Read next >>> 20 of the Best Hiking Trails in Southern Utah <<<
Peekaboo and Spooky Slot Canyons
One of the best slot canyon hikes in the Escalante area of Utah would have to be the Peekaboo and Spooky slot canyons hike (not to be confused with Peekaboo Canyon in Kanab, which is a different hike)!
On this hike in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, you can see two slot canyons: Peekaboo, which is one of the most beautiful slot canyons you’ll ever see, and then Spooky Gulch Slot Canyon, which is extremely tight and claustrophobic. These slots are moderately challenging but don’t require technical skills, so anyone can do them.
There’s no fee or permit required for this hike, and you don’t need 4WD, although the last part of the drive to the trailhead involves 1 hour on a bumpy back road (BLM200/Hole in the Rock Rd). Coming here after rain isn’t recommended.
The slots are filled with fun obstacles and beautiful red and purple rock walls, depending on the time of day you visit. Plan to spend at least a few hours on this one because it’s fairly involved, and you’ll want to take lots of photos! It’s a bucket list Utah hike!
Upper Antelope Canyon
Upper Antelope Canyon is one of the best slot canyons in Utah that should be on your bucket list. Although technically, Antelope Canyon isn’t located in Utah, it’s super close in northern Arizona, about 16 miles from the border between Utah and Arizona.
The only way to see Upper Antelope Canyon is by going on a guided Antelope Canyon tour. This is to protect visitors from flash flooding that can sometimes happen in slot canyons and also to protect the canyon itself. Upper Antelope Canyon is located on Navajo land and is a very sacred place to the Navajo people.
Upper Antelope Canyon is the most popular section of the entire Antelope slot canyon. This is because this section of the slot canyon is arguably the prettiest and has gorgeous wavy walls, glowing orange and red colors throughout the canyon, and of course, the famous light beams that shine down from the crack in the canyon at certain times of the day.
There are other fun things to do in the area besides visiting Antelope Canyon, like hiking to Horseshoe Bend or spending a day kayaking out on Lake Powell. To get the most out of visiting the area, spending at least two days is recommended to see all the sights.
Read next >>> Complete Guide to Visiting Belly of the Dragon in Kanab, Utah <<<
Wire Pass Slot Canyon
One of my favorite southern Utah slot canyons is Wire Pass. You might recognize the iconic ladder pictured below from this trail! The Wire Pass Trailhead is shared with the Buckskin Gulch Trailhead and is less than one hour from Kanab, Utah.
The trail to Wire Pass is longer than other slot canyons. You will walk through a dry, sandy riverbed for over half of the hike. Make sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen! You will need to purchase a permit to hike this trail. You can either do it in advance online, or you can purchase one at a local BLM station. Dogs are also allowed on this trail with an additional permit per dog.
Be sure to check AllTrails for current trail conditions. Recent reports have shown that the ladder is missing, and it is unknown when it will be replaced. Add this trail to your Utah slot canyon bucket list!
The Narrows (Zion National Park)
The Narrows, located in Zion National Park, is perhaps the most famous slot canyon in Utah, partly because the only way to visit The Narrows is to wade in the river that runs through it.
There are two ways to hike The Narrows. Both require payment of the national park entrance fee, which is $35 per vehicle or $20 per person, valid for seven days.
Most people hike the canyon bottom up, where you hike about halfway into the canyon and then back out again on the same day. This includes the most famous – and dramatic – section of the canyon, Wall Street, an incredibly narrow section where the canyon walls are hundreds of feet high and just a couple of dozen feet wide.
It’s really an incredible place to be and see. You can do as short or as long a hike as you like, depending on where you turn back, but to get to Wall Street, you should allow about 4-5 hours. This is a very interactive hike because you’re mostly hiking in the river, so it’s recommended to have a stick to help with stability. If you’re hiking in the months when the water is cold, you might want to consider wearing waterproof pants and shoes.
To get to The Narrows, take the Zion shuttle bus all the way to the end and walk along an easy path on the Riverside Walk until you get to the entrance to the Narrows. This is a very popular hike, so I recommend taking one of the earliest shuttles to avoid the main crowds of the day.
Read next >>> ATVing and Canyoneering with Kanab Tour Company <<<
Wall Street (Bryce Canyon National Park
As the only slot canyon in Utah’s beautiful Bryce Canyon National Park, Wall Street is a phenomenal site! With dramatic walls, beautiful light in the middle of the day, and plenty of photo opportunities, visiting Wall Street is easily one of the best things to do in Bryce Canyon National Park.
Wall Street is a fairly small canyon. By the time you finish winding your way through the gentle, sandy switchbacks that lead into the canyon, you’ve explored most of it, but it’s well worth the time. This small slot canyon is accessed via either the Navajo Loop trailhead at Sunset Point or via the Queen’s Garden trailhead at Sunrise Point.
Both trailheads are easy to access. There is paved parking, though it may be best to use the park’s shuttle to access them depending on when you’re hiking; they are very popular!
Personally, we recommend starting from the Navajo Loop trailhead at Sunset Point, as this will allow you to hike down into Wall Street rather than climb out of it. While this is easier, it also offers much better views of Wall Street as you descend!
Wall Street is typically closed over the winter and during heavy rainfall due to flash flooding. If you’re lucky enough to be visiting when this slot canyon is open, take advantage of the opportunity to visit one of Utah’s most beautiful slot canyons!
Things you should know about Utah slot canyons
There are a few things that you should know before planning a trip to the slot canyons of Utah.
Slot canyons can be dangerous, depending on weather conditions.
Always check the weather before heading out to a slot canyon hike. Rain can create dangerous flash-flooding conditions in slot canyons. Unfortunately, there is nowhere to go to escape these floods, and they can be fatal if caught in one.
Another thing that can make these hikes dangerous is snow and ice in the winter months. The walls and floors of the canyons can become very slippery in the winter months and can cause injury if you slip and fall. Consider wearing crampons if you know the trail conditions are likely covered in snow and/or ice.
In the summer months, these slot canyons can be scorching hot. You cannot always depend on shade, even inside the canyon walls. Always carry more water than you need, and consider wearing a hiking hat. Additionally, many of these slot canyons are very sandy. The sand can heat to extreme temperatures and harm your feet if not properly enclosed.
Do the proper research
Many slot canyons are challenging to reach. Sometimes, paying for a guided tour is the best option. Not only does this make things easier for you, but your guide will likely provide helpful information and fun facts about the canyons you are exploring.
If you decide to venture out to these slot canyons on your own, always research road conditions in advance. Many of them require 4WD due to sand or rough road conditions.
Also, it’s always best to inform others of your travel plans. Let someone know where you plan to go and when you anticipate returning. If an unfortunate accident occurs, this will help search and rescue teams be able to find you much quicker.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and found a few Utah slot canyons to add to your bucket list!