Skip to main content

Slotting My Way Through

Canyons are what I came to Utah again for and while I ended up doing a whole bunch of other stuff instead and barely hiked any of the canyons I planned to, I feel like I still got my fill. And I'll gladly come back to Utah again to explore the others on my list. This post is mostly just photos and videos of the slot canyons I did check out, with a little bit of extra info in case you want to visit.

Spring Creek Canyon, Kanarraville (7/16)

The hike to the beginning of this canyon is only a mile and a half with mild elevation gain, so it's very accessible. The creek runs straight through the canyon, which means it's quite lush inside - lots of trees and brush. This made me a bit nervous because it seemed like the idea place for a mountain lion to hang out, but I was there late afternoon in triple digit weather, so I figured the big cats were sleeping. And even in mid-July, that water was still mountain cold, which was really nice for splashing on my hot face at the crossings. Likely earlier in the year, you'll have to walk through the water, but I was able to hop over it.

Jenny's Canyon, Snow Canyon State Park (7/22)

This canyon is even more accessible - just a quarter mile in from the road. The canyon is also short but impressive! It makes a good add-on to lots of other great hikes in this state park.

Red Hollow Slot Canyon, Orderville (7/24)

This short hike is super easy to get to but when you start out, you might think it's not worthwhile, as short as it is. You have to slog through heavy sand in the wash and even heavier horse poop everywhere. But it's worth it! The canyon is really fun to explore. Then you can take the higher, more roundabout and picturesque trail back to the beginning.

Willis Creek (8/4)

When I arrived at this trailhead and saw the number of cars and families and older people, I got confused about how I could have stumbled onto a tourist trap. This was six miles down a dirt BLM road and nowhere near any major town or area. But then I understood. The first interesting section of this slot canyon is just a .3 mile walk in, so it's easy for anyone to go enjoy. But if you want to hike further, there's more to see after you cross a riverbed section, and most people aren't going back that far. The AllTrails route indicates that you should go back about 2.9 miles, but there's not that much to see. If you go back about two miles, you'll have seen all the interesting stuff. I turned around at 2.7 miles, when I reached the confluence of three streams.

Little Wild Horse and Bell Canyon (8/5)

The friend who came and explored Utah with me last year did this trail when I was working one day, and he couldn't stop raving about it, so I had to check it out this year on my way to Colorado. And wow, wow, wow. Little Wild Horse Canyon is the best Utah slot canyon I've checked out so far. I did the whole loop and I do recommend it, but I'd say start with Bell Canyon first. If you don't have much canyon experience, you'll love Bell and then get utterly blown away with Little Wild Horse. But for me, as pretty as Bell was, it was a let down after Little Wild Horse. Little Wild Horse had some fun scrambling and really skinny sections and was just so beautiful. Highly recommended. It is down a paved road, so it can get busy, but in the high 90s temps of early August, there were only three other cars in the parking lot when I got there. 

Ding and Dang (8/5)

I didn't actually complete these two. I knew in advance that they were technical and not canyons that should be attempted alone. However, the trailhead is only one mile from Little Wild Horse, and as much as I'd love to do these someday with someone, I don't know that I will for sure, so I had to get a little taste while I was there. 

The approach to the split is .8 miles. From there, I went right up Ding first for about a mile. It's kind of ugly at first. Lots of broken rock debris that just looks like garbage. Then you run up a bit of slickrock, do some fun scrambling, and then there you are, in a narrow slot, stemming, splaying, and chimneying your way along. 

For Dang, you've got to go in a bit longer after the split, but once you get there, the scrambling is a little more intense, but so much fun to pick your own route along. I went about 1.25 miles in until I reached a point that I might have been able to get up and over, but wasn't sure I'd be able to come back down without help.

It was really hot when I went, but I didn't want to sit in the shade under any rock overhangs to cool off. One look at the amount of rockfall on the trail should tell you that's not a good idea. And while there was lots of water in the canyon, it was stagnant and nasty looking, so I didn't even want to splash it on myself to cool off. So I'd recommend going in cooler weather, for those reasons and also because you'll use your hands a lot and the rock gets hot.