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9 Fabulous Slot Canyon Hikes in Southwestern Utah

Explore 9 incredible, nontechnical slot canyon hikes in the stunning Southwestern Utah desert.

Hiking Moderate, Severe, Extreme

Buckskin Gulch
Photo: Shutterstock


Southwestern Utah is home to the highest concentrations of slot canyons in the world. These otherworldly natural features consist of "intricate and narrow gorges cut through beautifully layered sedimentary deposits over immense time in the Colorado Plateau," according to VisitUtah.com. Some of the slot canyons can be wide, with towering cliffs soaring a hundred feet in the air on either side. And others are very, very narrow, forcing you to turn sideways to squeeze through the tight cracks in the rock.

While many of Southwestern Utah's slot canyons require technical canyoneering skills, including the use of ropes, harnesses, and other gear to safely negotiate the canyons, many other slot canyons are considered to be nontechnical hikes. This guidebook features 9 beautiful, nontechnical slot canyon hikes that are guaranteed to impress you with their grandeur. Granted, you still might need to scramble up and over some boulders and slide through tight squeezes, but all of these hikes should be feasible without technical canyoneering gear.

The hikes chosen for this guidebook cover a vast array of land across Southwestern Utah. In this guide, you'll find hikes in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, Capitol Reef National Park, and Goblin Valley State Park, as well as national forests and BLM lands close to the towns of St. George, Hilldale, and Kanab.

Ranging in distance from about one mile to over 20 miles, you can choose from a few minutes of solitude in a gorgeous canyon or a multi-day backcountry epic that requires you to carry everything that you need to survive. Utah is full of adventure, but thankfully you can choose to take on as much or as little challenge as you're prepared for.

But be warned: even though these slot canyon hikes are considered to be nontechnical, slot canyons are high consequence terrain. Many dangers exist, including fall danger on some scrambles, getting lost in a maze of canyons, or not having enough supplies with you for the length of your expedition.

But one of the most severe dangers is the very real possibility of flash floods, with no way to escape. VisitUtah.com recommends that you "always check the weather before visiting any slot canyon. Even light, distant rainfall can render slot canyons extremely dangerous" due to flash floods. Always treat this wilderness landscape with the utmost respect.

Routes included

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