A Primer on Exploring Southern Utah’s Best Slot Canyons

You may love hiking, but you’ve never fully experienced adventure hiking until you’ve explored some slot canyons. Slot canyon hiking is a mellower cousin of technical canyoneering, but it’s far more involved and exciting than your standard saunter through the desert.

Indeed, slot canyoning is an exercise in human Slinky-ness: You shimmy, scramble, wade, scoot, slog, crawl, and problem-solve. You’re generally shaded from the blistering desert sun, and as most slots have water puddles (if not outright streams and pools), you can cool off along the way. This makes them an option even during primetime summer in Utah.

Of course, slot canyons come with their own set of dangers, so it’s best to be prepared ahead of time and stay on your toes in the moment. Navigation isn’t always straightforward, so excellent route-finding skills and a topo map are a must. Also, keep in mind that slot canyons aren’t usually dog-friendly if they involve very tight spaces and scrambling.

You’ll also need to keep a sharp eye on the weather report: If there’s been any rain locally or uphill of the area, or if there’s any rain in the near forecast, be extremely careful of flash floods. They come with little warning, and if you’re miles into a slot with no escape, it can spell serious trouble. But if there’s no rain in sight and none on the way, you’re good to go. Consult with a local ranger if you want an authoritative opinion.

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