best utah slot canyon hikes

13 Best Slot Canyons in Utah to Hike Through

There are countless slot canyons in Utah you can explore and in this post I want to share with you 13 of them, specifically ones that are easy to find and close to other iconic spots in the area so you can see even more there.

Note: I’m also going to be covering which of these 13 are easy slot canyons in Utah you can explore.

There are a lot of dangers involved when hiking in slot canyons and in the case of Utah, there are probably 1,000s of them, most in remote areas and/or places where you can easily get stuck, lost, caught in a flash flood or worse. This is why this list mainly focuses on the most popular (and mostly easy) slot canyon hikes in Utah. Despite that, any slot canyon hike has risks and you need to know them before you go.

Here is the list of the 13 best slot canyons in Utah:

  1. Willis Creek slot canyon
  2. Wire Pass slot canyon
  3. Buckskin Gulch slot canyon
  4. Peekaboo and Spooky Gulch slot canyon
  5. Zebra slot canyon
  6. Red slot canyon
  7. Kanarra Falls slot canyon
  8. Joint slot canyon
  9. Jenny’s slot canyon
  10. Cottonwood Narrows slot canyon
  11. Singing Canyon
  12. The Narrows
  13. The Subway

Willis Creek slot canyon (easy):

willis creek utah slot canyon hikes

Willis Creek slot canyon is one of the most easy slot canyons in Utah I have explored, but at the same time one of the most fun and scenic too. This 5+ mile hike involves you entering a gorge/wash area in Grand Staircase Escalante, and then walking on a pretty flat sand/rock surface for 3 miles before turning back. Half of this hike will take you through several slot canyon spots and the tightest one is only about 2-3 feet.

  • Location: Willis Creek trailhead.
  • Things to know: The trailhead is easy to find but the only real caution I would suggest is that the road getting there is pretty rough. Just make sure you have an AWD when you go. The hike is very easy, but the 5+ mile road before you get to the trailhead isn’t.
  • Permit required? No

Wire Pass slot canyon (easy):

wire pass utah slot canyon hikes

To my knowledge, Wire Pass slot canyon is one of the most popular hikes of that kind in Utah. It may also be one of the best hikes in Utah overall and I can personally attest that it’s a 5 star hike in my experience. You will also have to drive on a very rocky road to get to the Wire Pass Trailhead and also get a permit online before you go. The hike itself starts in a dry river wash and goes into a slot canyon, has you walk down stairs and into another, bigger slot canyon called Buckskin Gulch. Buckskin Gulch is an advanced hike itself, but the Wire Pass trail is very easy to explore and it’s only about a 3 mile hike in and out.

  • Location: Wire Pass Trailhead 
  • Things to know: This slot canyon hike also requires a dirt road drive to reach so ideally have an SUV or better for it. This area is also very close to the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument.
  • Permit required? Yes. It’s just a parking fee and you can only get it online.

Buckskin Gulch slot canyon (hard):

buckskin gulch utah slot canyon hike

Since I just mentioned how Wire Pass slot canyon connects to Buckskin Gulch, let’s talk about why this is even on the list:

It’s actually the most popular slot canyon in Utah and because it also goes into Arizona, it is in the top 3 for slot canyons in that state (the top one might be Antelope Canyon). You can hike Buckskin Gulch several ways and most of them will have a moderate or higher difficulty. The more moderate way to do this hike is start at Wire Pass trail above and once it connects with Buckskin Gulch, turn left (north), walk a few miles into that, then exit out of it from the north, or head back through Wire Pass. If you want to do the full Buckskin Gulch hike, that would require a lot of experience, and even a backpacking trip that I would only recommend if you are experienced.

  • Location: Wirepass Trailhead
  • Things to know: Remember that this is a very long slot canyon (20+ miles). It’s recommended to start at one point and have someone pick you up at the other. Wirepass Trailhead is also one of several entrance points into Buckskin Gulch (the most popular).
  • Permit required? Yes, for the parking lot and if you plan to camp in Buckskin Gulch.

Peekaboo and Spooky Gulch slot canyons (hard):

peekaboo and spooky gulch utah slot canyon hikes

This slot canyon hike in Utah is actually 2 different hikes connected together for a 5 mile loop hike. Peekaboo slot canyon is considered moderate in difficulty, but Spooky Gulch is generally considered hard, which is why if you do both, it’ll be a difficult but very fun hike. This is one of the most popular trails in Grand Staircase Escalante and in a remote part of it (but you will usually see cars parked there). Peekaboo slot canyon can get tight but most people should be able to hike it. It’s Spooky Gulch where the slot canyon gets very tight in spots where you may have problems. I’d only do this if you are OK with that.

Zebra and Tunnel slot canyon (moderate):

zebra slot canyon utah hikes 04

Zebra and Tunnel Slot canyons are actually a great alternative to Peekaboo and Spooky gulch because it’s very close to them and it’s an easier hike with less climbing involved. It’s a shorter several mile hike (in and out) that is more often known to have water in it and you may get wet when you hike through it.

At the same time, there might be climbing involved in that you may have to use both your hands and legs to cross certain spots is this slot canyon. Zebra Slot canyon is actually very beautiful and is a great Antelope Canyon alternative (if you intend to one day visit that spot in Arizona). Tunnel Slot canyon is also very beautiful as well, but you can elect to do one or both of them (they are close to each other too).

  • Location: Zebra and Tunnel Trailhead
  • Things to know: Other than the hike being tight in spots, do note that there’s a good chance you may have to get wet during it.
  • Permit required? No

Red Slot Canyon (moderate):

red slot canyon utah hike 01

This is actually also called Peekaboo Slot Canyon but depending on which listing you look at, it can be identified as Red Canyon. Anyway, this is a type of slot canyon hike which you can drive to, but it requires a 4 mile off road type experience to reach it, or you can elect to just hike that 4 mile road, then walk the 1 or so mile slot canyon after. The Red Slot Canyon is very scenic and one of the most popular hikes in Kanab Utah.

  • Location: Red Canyon trailhead
  • Things to know: If you elect to do the long hike to the canyon, it may be pretty boring so it’s ideal to rent a 4×4 (if you don’t already have one) and just drive to the area.
  • Permit required? No

Kanarra Falls slot canyon (moderate):

kanarra falls utah slot canyon hike

This is one of the most popular hiking spots outside of Zion National Park. It’s a mix of trail hiking that leads into a slot canyon and inside that slot canyon is a waterfall, ladder walk and just amazing views of the canyon overall. You will get wet from this hike! I did this hike in the winter time and had to wear waterproof socks.

I also had to break through ice with my trekking poles but it was worth it because there were no people there and this hike is typically very crowded. But overall I really enjoyed this hike and highly recommend it! The Kanarra Falls trail is awesome and if you can check it out when there’s few people, do it! The hike is going to be about 5 miles in total.

  • Location: Kanarra Falls trailhead.
  • Things to know: This hike is super crowded most seasons (not winter) so get your Kanarra Falls permit at least 1 month beforehand.
  • Permit needed? Yes. You can get it online and it’s only for the parking fee.

Joint slot canyon (moderate):

canyonlands slot canyon hike in utah 01

The Joint slot canyon is a popular hike you can access through the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. The hike is about 2 miles to reach the slot canyon, then back. Attached to this hike are other popular trails, one of which is the Druid Arch, one of the most famous arches in Utah, but the hike to get there is about 9 miles one way! The slot canyon hike in this case is pretty easy to walk through and also very beautiful.

  • Location: Joint trail Utah.
  • Things to know: The hike to the slot canyon is easy but if you keep following it, you can also check out the Druid Arch (6 mile hike total).
  • Permit needed? No, but you have to pay to access the national park.

Jenny’s slot canyon (easy):

jenny slot canyon utah 03

Jenny’s slot canyon is one of the most popular hikes in a city called St. George Utah which is right outside Zion National Park. What’s so ironic though is that it’s mostly the locals who do it and that’s because so many people don’t even stop at St. George to check out the hikes. They usually just head straight to Zion and miss this, which is only an advantage to you since you’ll just have less people to annoy you on the hike.

  • Location: Jenny’s Canyon trail
  • Things to know: This slot canyon is located inside Snow Canyon State Park and it’s one of many awesome hikes there!
  • Permit needed? No, but you need to pay a fee to get into the state park.

Cottonwood Narrows slot canyon (easy):

cottonwood narrows utah slot canyon hike 09

This slot canyon isn’t far from Willis Creek at least on a map, but it is still probably one of the most remote (and popular) slot canyon hikes you’ll find on this list. I would only recommend this hike if you don’t mind a very long and bumpy ride to get there. If you don’t, then this is a very fun and easy slot canyon hike to try.

  • Location: Cottonwood Narrows Utah.
  • Things to know: This is also a part of the Grand Staircase Escalante region but you will need a car to get the trailhead. The road here is a bit dirty, but it’s OK to drive to the trailhead and on the Cottonwood Narrows road on a regular vehicle too.
  • Permit needed? No

Singing Canyon (easy):

singing slot canyon hike in utah 03

This is the shortest slot canyon hike on the list and possibly in Utah but it’s extremely easy to hike, isn’t difficult to reach and is close to the Red Canyon area of Utah which has many sights, hikes, campgrounds and more. This slot canyon is only about 100 feet and it is beautiful in there, and if you are someone who isn’t interested in tight slot canyon hikes, then this is a perfect, simply one to explore. Singing Canyon is right by the road (one of the best scenic drives in Utah) so you don’t have to hike far into it.

  • Location: Singing Canyon.
  • Things to know: I highly recommend exploring the scenic drive near Singing Canyon (Burr trail).
  • Permit needed? No

The Narrows (moderate):

the narrows utah slot canyon hike 05

The most popular slot canyon hike in Utah is probably the Narrows which is in Zion National Park. I actually didn’t know it was a slot canyon because of how wide it is, but it is known to be that. Anyway this is the second longest slot canyon hike in Utah (Buckskin Gulch is first) and you’ll need to get into Zion National Park first, then drive up to the trailhead to it. You will have to get into mostly knee deep water when you hike here and at times, waist deep water too.

This is also a very popular and scenic hike across the world and if you come here during the summer, it will be packed. Winter time, you’ll find way less people, but because the water will be freezing cold, you will need to wear a dry suite (that’s how I did this hike).

  • Location: Temple of Sinawava
  • Things to know: This is a very long hike that I recommend starting super early (7 miles each way).
  • Permit needed? No, but you have to pay to get into Zion NP.

The Subway:

the subway utah slot canyon hike 03

This is definitely going to be one of the most scenic and best slot canyon hikes you’ll ever explore but there are 2 things to know about it:

  • First you have to win a lottery entry to get there because it’s so popular.
  • Second, the hike is tough and requires you to be in very remote parts of Zion National Park to reach.

The Subway hike is amazing though and if you can actually try it, definitely do it!

  • Location: Left Fork Trailhead
  • Things to know: Because it’s remote you will want to have navigation skills and use a map (GPS) to reach this area.
  • Permit needed? Yes and you can only win it via a Subway hike lottery here.

Common questions about Utah slot canyon hikes:

easy slot canyons utah 04

Where are the most slot canyons in Utah?

Most of the slot canyons in Utah are around the San Rafael Swell area.

Are there slot canyons near Moab?

There are no slot canyons near Moab. The closest is about 20 or more miles from it.

Are there slot canyons in Zion?

Yes the most popular slot canyon hikes in Zion are the Narrows and Subway hikes.

I will be adding more slot canyon hikes to this list and if you have your own recommendations of simple ones (no rappelling involved), let me know!

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