- Things To Do
- Slot Canyons
Peek-a-Boo & Spooky Gulch
- Weather: Mostly Clear, 35F
On most Southern Utah bucket lists, you’ll find the local favorite one-two punch of Peek-a-Boo and Spooky Slot Canyons. These magnificent hikes, located in the Dry Fork area of the Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument area, can be done individually, but they make for a killer loop you can tackle in one afternoon of adventure. Once you’re in, all you have to do is walk through a scenic paradise of red and purple rock. From the trailhead, get into Dry Fork Wash via moderate scrambling down some short cliffs and following cairns as needed. Once you’re off the cliff and into the sand dunes, you’ll hike along the creek wash until you see the mouth of Peek-a-Boo. There are hand and foot cut-outs in the rock to help you get up and into the canyon. Once you leave Peek-a-Boo, keep hiking (longer than you think you should, most likely) until you come to a juniper tree, then follow the trail and cairns leading to the right and the entrance of Spooky Gulch. Scramble down a mellow rock face to get into the canyon. It soon tightens up, and you’ll be having a good time navigating the confines of this fun canyon. The loop generally takes about 3-4 hours depending on pace and skill level.
What makes it great.
This three-miler will give you stellar views and a new perspective of slot canyons in Southern Utah. Unlike many of the Escalante-area slot canyons, Peek-a-Boo and Spooky Gulch require zero technical gear or know-how—although it requires some navigational and rock-scrambling skill. Peek-A-Boo is a slot and corkscrew, and Spooky Gulch is a narrow slot canyon. It is worth noting, due to the restrictive nature of the some of the spaces in Spooky, this canyon is better suited for smaller body types. Adding to the cool factor of this destination is that it’s a loop — which is rare for these parts. You could just poke into one of the canyons for an hour to see what it’s all about, but why not do both while you’re there?
Who is Going to Love It
Everyone — except claustrophobes. This loop has scrambling and shuffling to make it like an adult-sized play-place. The natural waves and contours of the sandstone are awe-inspiring and perfect for pictures, while the light stemming and maneuvering are totally fun. The canyon only gets really tight in Spooky Gulch, where large adults who are backpacking will have to remove their backpacks to get through. Because of some very tame climbing to get into both Peek-a-Boo and Spooky (if entered as a loop after Peek-a-Boo), it’s probably best to leave the dog at home. But if your mutt is a climber, and you are adamant about bringing it along, dogs are allowed here.
Directions, Parking and Regulations
GPS Coordinates for the trailhead: (37.476782, -111.220040) From the pull-off at Highway 12, head down Hole-in-the-Rock Road for 26.3 miles to Dry Fork road and the trailhead — set and watch your odometer to be sure. Make sure you have a full tank of gas and lots of water as there are no amenities down this rough dirt road. This section of Hole-in-the-Rock Road provides easy access for passenger vehicles when dry; when wet, due to the clay consistency of the dirt, it might be impassable for even 4x4 vehicles. To be safe, don’t drive on wet roads in the desert. The trip is great in the spring or fall, any time of day; the cool canyon makes for a respite from the summer’s heat in the area. Just make sure you always check the weather report, because this is flash-flood country, and June, July, and August carry the greatest risk. Also note that there have been sightings of Great Basin rattlesnakes in the canyons and in the desert in general — be careful.
For current conditions on any of the slot canyons off Hole-in-the-Rock Road, Burr Trail, or other hiking opportunities in, or along the Escalante River and its side canyons, please contact the Escalante Interagency Visitor Center at 435-826-5499.
Well-prepared travel is responsible travel.
Do your part by planning ahead
Peekaboo Canyon & Spooky Gulch: Utah Slot Canyon Hike
One of the best slot canyon hikes in Utah has to be the Spooky Gulch and Peekaboo Canyon hike, where you can see one, two, three, or even four amazing slot canyons in a single trail.
This is a moderate loop hike near Escalante that first takes you to Peekaboo Slot Canyon, which is one of the most beautiful slot canyons we’ve ever seen, and then Spooky Gulch, which is extremely tight and claustrophobic.
Last, but not least, when you visit the Peekaboo and Spooky slot canyons you also have the option to add on two more slots: Brimstone Gulch and the Dry Fork Narrows. That way you get to see four of the best slot canyons in Utah in one hike!
This guide and map will show how to do the Spooky and Peekaboo slot canyons hike, where to find the trailhead, and everything else you need to know before you go!
Contents hide 1) Quick Facts 2) Peekaboo And Spooky Slot Canyons: What To Expect 3) • Trail Beginning 4) • Dry Fork Narrows 5) • Peekaboo Slot Canyon 6) • Spooky Slot Canyon 7) • Brimstone Slot Canyon 8) Peekaboo & Spooky Map 9) Peekaboo & Spooky Trailhead Location 10) Trailhead Conditions 11) Slot Canyon Utah Safety Tips 12) Where To Stay In Escalante 13) More Things To See Nearby 14) Best Utah Tours 15) More Utah Slot Canyon Guides
- Distance: 3.5 miles (5.5 km) round trip
- Elevation Gain: 300 feet (90 m)
- Duration: 3 – 4 hours round trip
- Difficulty: Moderate
Peekaboo And Spooky Slot Canyons: What To Expect
This hike takes you to a desert gulch with 4 different slot canyons: Dry Fork, Peakaboo, Spooky, and Brimstone.
The main reason people do this trail is to see the Peekaboo and Spooky slot canyons, which are especially amazing, but the other two slots are also nice if you have time.
The dark and mysterious looking Spooky Gulch
If you’re new to slot canyons and just want an introduction (or if you’re bringing a dog), you can simply walk through the wide and easy Dry Fork Narrows slot for an out-and-back hike with nice beginner friendly views.
If you want something more exciting, you can continue to the Peekaboo and Spooky slot canyons loop, which is really spectacular, although it’s not good for pets.
These two slots are moderately difficult, but beginners can still do them. You don’t need any special gear or technical skills, but you do need to be in good shape and not at all claustrophobic.
Peekaboo Canyon may be our favorite slot canyon Utah has to offer.
One important thing to note is that BLM recommends going up Peekaboo slot canyon first and then down Spooky slot canyon.
It’s theoretically possible to do them in the opposite direction, but it’s harder, and you’ll have a problem when you run into other hikers doing the slots in the correct order. These are very tight slots so it’s not a good place to have a traffic jam.
Depending on when you go, and how much rain there’s been recently, you may also run into a bit of standing water or mud in the slot canyons, in which case you’ll have to do some extra gymnastics to pass.
The sections below explain each part of this trail and what to expect. The entire hike is so worth it!
• Trail Beginning
There are two different trailheads for the Peekaboo and Spooky slot canyons, so the route is slightly different depending on which one you use. I’ll share a map later in this guide.
Either way, you’ll start out on a plateau in the desert, and you have to hike down into a shallow gulch to reach the slot canyons.
The first part of the trail is on dirt and sand paths with some occasional slick rock, and you’ll see plenty of little stacked rock cairns to help you find your way.
This part of the hike is exposed to the sun, but it’s all downhill. A bigger challenge is going back up the hill later, because even though the elevation gain is mild, it’s a bit harder because of the heat.
Keep going downhill until you reach the sandy Dry Fork Wash, and then the trail flattens and you have access to 4 slot canyons within a short walking distance of each other!
Dry Fork Wash has 4 slot canyons you can visit in a single hike.
A sign in the Dry Fork Wash pointing to the 3 main slot canyons.
• Dry Fork Narrows
The first slot canyon you’ll encounter on this hike is the Dry Fork Narrows.
If you’re coming from the Upper trailhead, you’ll actually pass through this slot on the way to the Peekaboo and Spooky slot canyons. If you’re coming from the Lower trailhead, you can still visit this slot, but it’ll require a bit of detouring — the exit from the Dry Fork Narrows is near the entrance to Peekaboo Canyon.
The path at the Dry Fork Narrows is wide and easy, so it’s perfect for slot canyon newbies and pets. This passage is bigger and tamer than the slot canyons at Spooky and Peekaboo, so you can just relax and enjoy the scenery as you walk through.
I have heard of people seeing rattlesnakes in this slot, so you’ll want to watch your step and keep your eyes on the trail, but we didn’t see any snakes ourselves.
The slot section of the Dry Fork Narrows lasts for about 0.5 miles and then ends at the sandy wash, after which you can return to the trailhead, or walk 150 yards to the Peekaboo Canyon entrance to continue the adventure.
Dry Fork Narrows
• Peekaboo Slot Canyon
The Peekaboo Slot Canyon is where things really start to get interesting!
This is like an adult playground, with lots of fun obstacles to cross and wonderful red rock walls to admire.
Even though it’s a short slot, I think it’s one of the most beautiful slot canyons in Utah, featuring a heart shaped rock passage and rose colored arch ceilings.
It’s also moderately difficult, although beginners can still do it.
Natural rock window at Peekaboo slot canyon
The steep climb at the beginning of Peekaboo Canyon (pictured below) is the hardest part.
It’s a slickrock ledge about 15 feet tall, and there isn’t much to hold. This part could be dangerous if you fall, but as long as you have shoes with good grip you should be okay.
The subsequent obstacles in Peekaboo Canyon are easier and more enjoyable.
Arch ceilings at Peekaboo slot canyon
When you reach the top of Peekaboo slot canyon, the path will widen dramatically and you’re back in the sunshine.
Keep going until you reach the sandy wash, which signals that you’ve reached the end and it’s time to cross over to Spooky Gulch. This part is easy to get lost because the trail is unmarked except for rock cairns, and there are lots of paths from lost hikers leading in all directions.
You need to walk east in a straight line for about 0.5 miles, and then you’ll come upon another sandy wash, which is the start of Spooky Gulch.
The entrance to Spooky slot canyon is marked with a pin on Google Maps called ‘Spooky Gulch Top’.
You have to cross a bit of desert to reach the top of Spooky Gulch
The gradually narrowing top entrance to Spooky Gulch
• Spooky Slot Canyon
Take a deep breath of fresh air, because this is your last moment of freedom for awhile! Spooky Gulch is only about 600 yards long, but it feels much longer because of how cramped it is.
This slot is extremely tight. There are parts where you have to shuffle sideways just to fit your body through the slot, and backpacks have to be carried awkwardly overhead.
Your knees and elbows, clothes, and any other gear you’re carrying will get pretty scraped up as you go.
Mini rock arch
There is one tough obstacle at Spooky slot canyon that involves dropping about 10 feet down a narrow opening between boulders while holding a rope (pictured below).
The best way to do this is to put your back flat against the nearest rock wall, place your feet on the opposite wall, and then inch your way down while holding the rope.
Exiting Spooky Slot Canyon
• Brimstone Slot Canyon
Brimstone Gulch is a fourth slot canyon you can visit on this hike if you’re still feeling energetic.
As you exit Spooky Gulch , walk east in the sandy wash for about 1 mile until you reach the entrance to Brimstone Gulch , which will be a wide side canyon on your left. From this canyon, walk another 0.7 miles to reach the Brimstone slot canyon.
This is a very tight slot frequented by rattlesnakes and occasionally holds a long pool of water, so be careful. The walls of this slot are picturesque, but darker and less colorful than Peekaboo slot canyon or even Spooky Gulch.
Brimstone Gulch eventually shrinks to a slot just 6 inches wide, at which point it becomes basically impassable and you’ll have to retrace your steps.
Peekaboo & Spooky Map
Here is a map of the Peekaboo and Spooky slot canyons, with the main trail routes highlighted in red.
Not shown on this map is the Brimstone Gulch, which is a bit further east of Spooky slot canyon.
Peekaboo & Spooky map showing the trail routes in red. There are two different places to start this hike: Upper Dry Fork trailhead or Lower Dry Fork trailhead.
Peekaboo & Spooky Trailhead Location
There are two different trailheads for this hike: Upper Dry Fork trailhead or Lower Dry Fork trailhead.
The Upper Dry Fork trailhead is a better choice in my opinion, because it takes you right through the Dry Fork Narrows (another slot) on the way to Peakaboo Canyon and Spooky, and that also means more time walking in the shade.
The Lower Dry Fork trailhead is slightly closer to the slot canyons, but it’s more exposed to the sun. It also takes an extra 15 minutes of driving on bumpy roads. If you start from this trailhead you can still visit the Dry Fork Narrows slot canyon, but it’ll require a bit of detouring.
- Upper Dry Fork Trailhead: 37.479149121392624, -111.24137861032003
- Lower Dry Fork Trailhead: 37.47726316541605, -111.22028826343339
The best place to base yourself for this hike is the town of Escalante, Utah, which is just 1 hour away and has plenty of camping and hotel options.
Sign at the Upper Dry Fork trailhead
The last part of the drive to the Peekaboo and Spooky trailheads involves 1 hour on a very bumpy back road (BLM200/Hole in the Rock Rd).
This is pretty much the bumpiest washboard road I’ve ever seen (absolutely atrocious), but I think you could do it in any vehicle as long as the road is dry and you take your time.
I wouldn’t try to come here after rain unless you have a capable vehicle. You can check the latest road conditions here .
When you arrive at either of the trailheads, there are vault toilets, information signs, and a trail map. Both of the Dry Fork trailheads were upgraded by BLM in 2020 .
As always, please remember to keep the trail clean, be considerate of other hikers, and leave no trace . Thanks and happy travels!
Information signs at the Lower Dry Fork trailhead
Slot Canyon Utah Safety Tips
Flash Floods. Always be aware of the weather forecast. Do not enter any slot canyon if rain is in the forecast, even if it's outside of your immediate area. Flash flooding can be very dangerous in a slot canyon.
Sunscreen. Even on a slot canyon hike, there are still plenty of parts on the trail where you'll be exposed to direct sun, so you might want sunscreen. A hat helps too.
Water. Try to pack at least 3-4 liters per person. In Utah, you should always bring more water than you think you need.
Map. It's a good idea to download an offline map of your hiking area on an app like Google Maps, that way you can keep using it to navigate or find your position even when you're out of reception. Getting lost in the desert can be dangerous.
Where To Stay In Escalante
Slot Canyons Inn
Inn of Escalante
More Things To See Nearby
The Spooky and Peekaboo slot canyons are part of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah, so there are lots of great attractions nearby!
Another amazing slot canyon to check out in the area is the Zebra Slot Canyon , which is located just a 30 minute drive from this one on the same road.
There’s also the Devils Garden nearby, which is a neat family friendly spot where you can see some nice hoodoo rock formations without any hiking.
Best Utah Tours
More utah slot canyon guides.
Thanks for looking! I hope you enjoyed this guide for the Peekaboo and Spooky slot canyons hike in Escalante, Utah.
Don’t forget to check out my complete Utah Slot Canyon Guide to see more of the best slot canyons in Utah!
- Utah Hiking Guide - Best Utah Hikes & Trails
- Slot Canyon Guide - Best Slot Canyons In Utah
You may also like
Tiger’s nest monastery bhutan hike (paro taktsang), seram island & ora beach travel guide (maluku, indonesia), half dome deaths: how many people have died on the hike, antelope canyon x tour review, photos & experience, antelope canyon tours: which is best (upper, lower, x), palau scenic flight over the rock islands + pictures.
Last summer we went to Brimstone canyon with my 2 firends , i never go Dry Fork, Peekaboo and Spooky ones, after i saw your photos i decide to go thanks.
Leave a Comment Cancel Reply
Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.
Read This Before Hiking the Escalante Slot Canyons: Ridiculously Detailed Guide to Peek-A-Boo, Spooky, Zebra and Tunnel Trails in Utah
Grand Staircase Escalante has all of the beauty of one of the nearby Utah national parks but it is a little more rugged.
The roads might be a little rougher and the driving distances a little farther than other locations. But hiking the famous slot canyons of Escalante in Utah is a bucket list item unlike any other.
Keep reading for everything you need to know about hiking in the slot canyons at Grand Staircase Escalante.
You’ll find all of the specifics for Escalante’s most popular hikes including what to bring, trail regulations, trailhead GPS coordinates and detailed hiking trail instructions.
Escalante Area Slot Canyons on Hole in the Rock Road
Southern Utah and Grand Staircase Escalante are known for their amazing slot canyon hikes.
The most popular and accessible slot canyon trails are located on Hole in the Rock Road near the small town of Escalante.
Among the slot canyons on Hole in the Rock Road are Peek-a-Boo, Spooky Gulch, Zebra and Tunnel.
Peek-A-Boo & Spooky: Most Popular Slot Canyon in Escalante
Peek-a-Boo, also known as Red Canyon, is the most popular slot canyon in Escalante.
It can be hiked individually or combined with Spooky to make a loop.
Peek-a-Boo is classified as an easy hike and is a nice introduction to slot canyons.
Beware, the Peek-A-Boo entrance requires scrambling up a 10-foot rock face to access the canyon.
There are hand and foot holds to assist in the short climb. Also the entrance can have standing water during wet seasons. Prepare to walk through the water on your hike.
Spooky is a bit narrower and longer than Peek-A-Boo. Many sections of the trail are too narrow to get sun. These sections are considered dark and spooky to many hikers.
Skip to for complete instructions including directions for Peek-a-Boo and Spooky.
Stats: Peek-a-Boo and Spooky Slot Canyon
Distance : 4.4 miles roundtrip
Time Required : 3 to 4 hours depending on skill level and current conditions
Difficulty: Peek-A-Boo (easiest) Spooky (moderate)
Best time to visit: year-round (summer is the rainy season and dangerous flash floods are possible)
Driving Directions to Peek-a-Boo and Spooky Hike
Peek-a-Boo and Spooky Slot Canyon loop trail is a really popular hike.
It is located 26.3 miles down the Hole in the Rock Road.
Hole in the Rock Road can be accessed from scenic Highway 12 east of the town of Escalante.
In Google maps, the trailhead is searchable by Lower Dry Fork trailhead.
Peek-A-Boo and Spooky Slot Canyons Trailhead GPS Coordinates : 37.476782, -111.220040
Most Popular Slot Canyon Hike in Escalante
Peek-A-Boo and Spooky Slot Canyon is by far the most popular hike in Grand Staircase Escalante.
The total hike is 4.4 miles roundtrip and requires climbing over, under and through narrows spaces.
Equally as beautiful is the nearby Zebra Slot Canyon. It is a short hike with naturally occurring stripes in the canyon walls.
Zebra can be combined with the Tunnel Slot Canyon for a 6.6 miles roundtrip.
Slot canyons are some of the most popular trails in Escalante.
Hiking Peek-a-Boo and Spooky Gulch Slot Canyon Loop in Escalante
Peek-A-Boo and Spooky Gulch slot canyons in Escalante are a very popular loop combination.
They are on many visitors’ bucket lists. When we visited Escalante, I originally wanted to hike the slot canyons as well. But after researching, I chickened out.
I have a slight fear of small spaces and I got scared by others’ experiences. I regret not trying the more mild Peek-A-Boo option.
It is possible to hike Peek-a-Boo and as an out and back instead of a loop combined with Spooky Gulch. The hike to Peak-a-Boo, also known as Red Canyon, is 0.7 miles one way.
Spooky has more narrow spaces than Peek-a-Boo but you don’t have to commit to both.
The walk between the two slot canyons allows hikers the option to walk back to their car instead of towards Spooky.
How long does it take to hike Peek-a-Boo and Spooky slot canyons?
The Peek-a-Boo and Spooky loop hike can range from 3.5 to 5.5 miles depending on the paths you chose to walk when not in the canyons.
Hiking speed varies so the time to hike Peek-a-Boo and Spooky can range from 2.5 to 5 hours.
Hiking in slot canyons is generally a slow process.
Each step forward is different and requires its own strategy. Allow at least 4 hours to complete the Peek-a-Boo and Spooky slot canyon loop hike.
Is it best to do Peek-a-Boo and Spooky Gulch as a Loop or Out and Back hike?
If you love the idea of adventure and have no reservations about the hike, definitely do the loop of Peek-a-Boo and Spooky Gulch. It is one of the most popular hikes in the area for a reason.
Peek-a-Boo offers a good introduction to slot canyons and navigating obstacles.
And if you don’t love hiking slot canyons, you can head back to your car after Peek-a-Boo rather than continuing to Spooky.
Spooky is quite a bit narrower and requires travel through tighter passages. Leave backpacks outside the canyon since you’ll need to be as small as possible to fit.
Why is it named Peek-A-Boo?
After finishing the canyon portion of the hike, you can actually look down and see hikers below peeping up through the narrow slot. Peek-a-Boo!
Why is it named Spooky?
Spooky slot canyon is so narrow that much of it does not get sun. The dark tight space is considered scary or spooky to many.
Navigating Peek-a-Boo and Spooky Slot Canyons in Escalante
The Dry Fork trailhead leads hikers to a few short cliffs that require moderate scrambling down into a creek wash.
There are cairns to assist with navigation. If visiting during a busy time, you can just follow other hikers.
After hiking through the creek wash, you’ll see the mouth of Peek-a-Boo canyon. There are notches in the 10-foot rock face to use as hand and footholds.
Once entering the canyon, you can’t get off course. Follow the canyon to the end.
At this point, you can walk back to your car or continue the loop to Spooky.
If continuing to Spooky, follow the trail and cairns.
The distance between the two slot canyons can seem long in the sun after enjoying the shady canyon.
The trail leads past a juniper tree and then slightly right to the entrance of Spooky Gulch.
The entrance requires a scramble down a rock face. The canyon tightens up quickly and you’ll understand the name.
Zebra and Tunnel Slot Canyon: Most Photogenic in Escalante
Zebra Canyon’s unique pink stripes make it a very photogenic canyon.
The trail to the canyon is exposed with no sun protection. Be sure to wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen . Always hike with drinking water.
It is a short canyon but can be challenging due to extremely narrow sections and standing water.
Stats: Zebra and Tunnel Slot Canyons
Distance : 6.6 miles roundtrip
Time Required : 3 to 5 hours depending on skill level and current conditions
Difficulty : easy (exposed to sun)
Best time to visit : year-round (summer is the rainy season and dangerous flash floods are possible)
Driving Directions to Zebra and Tunnel Hike
Zebra and Tunnel Slot Canyons is a shorter driving option than the Peek-A-Boo Spooky loop.
It is located 8 miles after the cattle guard on Hole in the Rock Road. The trailhead is on the south side of the road.
Zebra and Tunnel Slot Canyons Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 37.639444, -111.445556
Can you drive to Zebra slot canyon?
Yes, during dry weather most passenger vehicles can drive to the trailhead for Zebra slot canyon.
The hike from the trailhead to Zebra slot canyon is a few miles of dry desert trail marked by cairns.
Hiking Zebra and Tunnel Slot Canyon Loop in Escalante
Zebra is by far the most photogenic slot canyon in Escalante. The pink striped walls attract visitors despite difficult hiking conditions.
Zebra is more narrow than Spooky Gulch and can be 8-10″ wide in some spots.
It also usually has standing water in it. Water depths can range from ankle-deep to chest-deep depending upon recent rains.
However, the hike through Zebra Canyon is only 100 meters long in total.
Why is it named Zebra Canyon?
The unique pink stripes on the walls of Zebra Canyon are reminiscent of the black and white stripes found on a zebra, inspiring the name.
Zebra canyon has natural variation in the stone colors caused by past geological events.
Why is it named Tunnel Canyon?
Tunnel Canyon got it’s name because it has boulders over the roof of the canyon causing it to look and feel like a tunnel.
Tunnel Canyon is a short section of a slot canyon in Escalante. It is less impressive than Zebra but is cool in its own way.
Navigating Zebra and Tunnel Slot Canyons in Escalante
The trailhead is located across the road from the parking area about 8 miles into Hole in the Rock Road.
Precise trailhead GPS coordinates are listed in the Driving Directions section above.
The well-marked path leading towards Harris Wash and Zebra canyon starts near a cattle guard.
Follow this path for about 45 minutes to the bottom of Halfway Hollow.
Stay on the trail on the left side of the wash as long as possible. You will need to go into Harris Wash at one point but do not cross over.
Continue to walk in the wash for about 500 feet (150 meters) until the trail continues on the west bank of the wash.
Follow this trail until you reach the entrance to Zebra Canyon.
Zebra canyon starts off very wide where it joins Harris Wash but it narrows within the first 10 minutes.
Water is often standing in these narrow areas. The water can be several feet deep but you’ll need to continue past the water to reach the nearby zebra-striped section.
After the zebra section, you’ll need to climb a small dryfall (i.e. a waterfall without the water) to exit the canyon as it opens back up.
To continue to Tunnel Canyon, go back to Harris Wash.
Follow it for 20-30 more minutes to the first side canyon on the left. Tunnel Canyon can also have standing water which ranges in depth based on recent rainfall.
After completing Tunnel Canyon, return to Harris Wash. Follow the trail back to Halfway Hollow and the trailhead.
Coyote Gulch: Most Adventurous in Escalante
Coyote Gulch is a longer and more challenging option for the most adventurous hiker.
It is not technically a slot canyon but is an awesome option in Escalante.
The Coyote Gulch trail follows the Escalante River through a canyon. The trailheads are also located along Hole in the Rock road.
Coyote Gulch can be done as a long day hike or an overnight backcountry trip. Backcountry camping permits are necessary and can be obtained at the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Visitor Center in Kanab, UT.
Escalante River Slot Canyon Hike
Coyote Gulch follows the Escalante River through a canyon.
It can be accessed from several trailheads along Hole in the Rock Road. Trail sections range from 2 miles to 13 miles one way.
Hikers are rewarded with a dense concentration of natural features including a natural bridge, two arches, and several waterfalls.
Check out the NPS site for more details about hiking Coyote Gulch.
Coyote Gulch Trail Options
Red Well trailhead to Escalante River – 13 miles (one way)
Hurricane Wash trailhead to Escalante River – 12.3 miles (one way)
Fortymile Ridge: Water Tank to Coyote Gulch- 2 miles (one way) ( requires 100+ feet of class 5 friction climbing )
Fortymile Ridge: Crack in the Wall to Coyote Gulch– 2.5 miles (one way) ( contains a large sand dune (700 feet of elevation)
Getting to the Slot Canyons at Escalante
The most popular slot canyon hikes in Grand Staircase are located on Hole in the Rock Road. It is a 58-mile dirt road.
The road can be a rough ride for a passenger vehicle in dry conditions but it is generally passable. However, any moisture can have a huge negative impact on the conditions.
Roads in the area often become impassable after rain or snow.
The clay conditions make the road impassable to even 4×4 vehicles. To be safe do not dry on wet roads in the desert.
Check at the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Visitor Center in Kanab, UT for current road conditions to the slot canyon trailheads.
Why is it called Hole in the Rock Road?
In 1879, the San Juan Mission of Mormon pioneers named The Hole in the Rock near Escalante Utah.
The almost vertical Glen Canyon walls made crossing the Colorado River impossible until they discovered this “hole in the rock”.
Even here at the ideal spot, they spent six weeks creating a path for the wagon party to descent the 45-foot cliffside.
Hole in the Rock Road is a 56-mile maintained dirt road with several popular hikes.
What is a slot canyon?
Slot canyons are narrow canyons eroded into slick rock.
They are slots in the rock that some adventurous hiker thought they could fit through. Now we all follow the path they discovered.
The slots grow in width with time and erosion.
Slot canyons are very common in the area of Utah around Escalante.
Nearby Zion National Park and Bryce National Park both also have slot canyons. Check out our Zion and Bryce posts for more details on hiking in the parks and planning your trip.
Know Before You Hike a Slot Canyon
- Fill your fuel tanks in the towns of Escalante or Boulder before starting the drive down Hole in the Rock Road.
- Most slot canyon hikes require climbing over, under and through narrows spaces. Some previous navigation and rock scrambling skills will assist in these tasks but are not necessary.
- Arrive early to avoid crowds. The Escalante slot canyons are very popular and can get crowded.
- Leave large backpacks at home. Most adults have to remove their packs (even small ones) to be able to fit through a few of the tightest sections.
- Those with claustrophobia should consider this before beginning the hike. Also, larger body types might find some of the most narrow spots challenging to pass.
- Upper body strength is helpful for navigating most slot canyons. Consider bringing your garden gloves to protect your hands.
- Many trailheads along Hole in the Rock Road have pit or vault toilets.
- There is no drinking water available. Bring your own water in an insulated bottle or hydration bladder . BLM recommends four liters per person.
- Hikers with claustrophobia, a fear of small spaces, may not enjoy hiking in the Escalante slot canyons.
- Standing water at the bottom of slot canyons is common. Prepare to get your shoes and feet wet and dirty .
- Check road conditions before driving any BLM roads in Escalante. Rain or snow can make the road impassable by 4×4.
- Leashed dogs are allowed in Escalante slot canyons. But only bring dogs who are good climbers. The canyon is too narrow to carry the dog in many spots.
- Watch for the snakes. Great Basin Rattlesnakes are native to Escalante’s desert and canyons.
- Surprising quantities of water flow into these canyons during a rain shower. Slot canyons are subject to dangerous flash flooding. Many people have been trapped and died in slot canyon flash floods.
Packing List: What to Bring to Hike Slot Canyons
- A sense of adventure
- Decent upper body strength or enough determination to overcome weak arms
- Drinking water (southern Utah is hot in summer and dry year-round)
- Shoes with good grip that you can get wet and muddy
- Wear Sunscreen with SPF30+ (for the hiking sections outside the canyons)
- Permits are not required to day hike Escalante’s slot canyons on Hole in the Rock Road.
- Camping permits are required for all overnight trips into the backcountry.
- Leashed dogs are allowed.
- Leave No Trace principles are in effect on all BLM property. If you pack it in, then you should pack out. This means all human waste should be packed out.
How to Mentally Prepare to Hike a Slot Canyon
Hiking slot canyons can be both physically and mentally challenging. Therefore there is one thing everyone should do to prepare mentally to hike a slot canyon.
Intrigued by slot canyons, I watched several YouTube videos of others taking this hike.
My favorite was this one by America’s Parks. They are experienced hikers without too much technical hiking. In short, they don’t take themselves too seriously.
One guy, without any fear of small spaces, scraped up his legs and arms on the hike.
He was a big, physically fit guy and had trouble fitting through several sections. He took an audible breath of relief at the end of the hike as he exited the end of the canyon.
I quickly decided slot canyons were not the best choice for my slight claustrophobia. I recommend watching at least one video to make sure you’re up to the challenge.
Is Grand Staircase Escalante worth visiting?
Grand Staircase Escalante is definitely worth visiting.
We enjoyed the hiking as much as the nearby Utah national parks Arches , Canyonlands , Zion , Bryce and Capitol Reef .
It is much less crowded and has more types of hikes than most of the parks.
How much is admission to hike the Escalante slot canyons?
Admission is free to hike the Escalante slot canyons. So start planning your trip now.
Hole in the Rock Road is located on Bureau of Land Management property in Southern Utah.
It is public land and is open for everyone’s enjoyment.
Can you hike at Grand Staircase Escalante?
Yes, there is a lot of hiking options in Grand Staircase Escalante.
Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument covers over a million acres. There are several other amazing hikes that don’t require squeezing into narrow slot canyons.
Best Hiking Trails in Escalante: Not Slot Canyons
Lower Calf Creek Falls and Escalante Natural Bridge are our favorites hikes that are not slot canyons in Grand Staircase Escalante.
Both trailheads can get busy so arrive early.
Check out One Day at Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument: Some of Utah’s Best Hikes outside the Big 5 National Parks for detailed information on these hikes including everything you need to know before you go.
Hiking Lower Calf Creek Falls in Escalante
Lower Calf Creek Falls is 7 miles roundtrip hiking trail but ends at a beautiful waterfall.
We saw several people spending the day at the cool shady area around the waterfall. Some people might get scared off by the idea of hiking 7 miles.
The trail itself isn’t very strenuous but it is exposed with little shade.
Families and seniors alike were making this hike. We even saw locals hiking with full-sized folding camp chairs so they could spend some time enjoying the waterfall in comfort.
If 7 miles is too daunting, considering the trail as a morning 3.5-mile hike and afternoon 3.5-mile hike makes it more manageable.
Hiking Escalante Natural Bridge in Escalante
Escalante Natural Bridge is a 5.5-mile hiking trail that leads to a natural bridge.
The bridge is cool but the best part of this hike is the river crossings.
There are 12 river crossings. Kids, of all ages, love them.
We had no experience with river crossings so it was fun and new to us. By the end of the hike, we decided to walk in the river to keep cool.
Escalante Natural Bridge hike is really popular because it is an awesome walk around and through the river.
Where to Stay in Escalante: Yonder Escalante
We highly recommend Yonder Escalante for luxury accommodations when deciding where to day in Escalante.
It is a highly rated (9.3 stars out of 10) seasonal campground. Yonder Escalante intended for those who prefer glamping over camping.
They offer cabins, restored Airstreams or traditional campsites with all of the same amazing resort style amenities.
Yonder Escalante has spa like bathhouses, a lounging pool with oversized hot tub, a drive in movie theatre complete with classic cars, retail store and an indoor/outdoor clubhouse with an indoor firepit.
“…it was an amazing place in the middle of the great 5 parks of Utah…glamping at its finest. they provide everything so even a non camper can enjoy themselves. it’s a beautiful place with all the amenities” Christine (booking.com customer)
Summary: Hiking Slot Canyons at Grand Staircase Escalante
In conclusion, hiking options are abundant in Southern Utah including several world class slot canyons in Escalante.
If hiking slot canyons are on your bucket list, don’t miss the gems at Grand Staircase Escalante.
Escalante YouTube Videos
Other Posts You Might Enjoy
✔ Red Canyon Utah: A Great Road Trip Stop for Hoodoos and Hiking
✔ Arches vs Canyonlands: Which National Park is Best? : BONUS 2022 Itinerary for Two Parks in One Day
✔ Complete Capitol Reef National Park Camping Guide: Everything from Luxury RV Parks to Free Dispersed Camping
✔Save Money on a Roadtrip: 13 Simple Ways to Still Have Fun on a Budget
ABOUT CONTACT US
- US National Parks
A Photojourney through Peek-A-Boo Gulch and Spooky Gulch
Julie Last updated: August 30, 2023 United States 65 Comments
If you are looking for a super fun hike to do, put Peek-A-Boo Gulch and Spooky Gulch on your list. Just their names make this hike sound enticing.
These slot canyons are located in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument on Hole-in-the-Rock Road. Getting here can be a mini-adventure, driving over 25 miles down a rough, dirt road through dry desert landscapes. And once you are here, two short, thrilling scrambles through some of the most fun slot canyons in the area awaits.
Peek-A-Boo Gulch has several sections of challenging rock scrambling, including a 12 foot climb just to enter the canyon. Spooky Gulch is one of the narrowest slot canyons around, only 10 inches wide in some spots! If you’re up for the challenge, these two slot canyons are tons of fun.
Table of Contents
Peek-A-Boo & Spooky Slot Canyon Hiking Stats
Distance: 3.5 miles Length of Time: 3 – 4 hours Difficulty: The trail to the slot canyons is easy to moderate. Hiking through Peek-A-Boo and Spooky Gulches can be challenging in spots. If you are claustrophobic, consider skipping Spooky Gulch. When to go: Any time of year, although expect very high temperatures in the summer.
Please practice the seven principles of Leave No Trace: plan ahead, stay on the trail, pack out what you bring to the hiking trail, properly dispose of waste, leave areas as you found them, minimize campfire impacts, be considerate of other hikers, and do not approach or feed wildlife.
Peek-A-Boo & Spooky Slot Canyons
Step-By-Step Trail Guide
Getting to the Trailhead
The trailhead is located on Hole-in-the-Rock Road in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
In the town of Escalante, turn onto Hole-in-the-Rock Road and reset your odometer. Drive 26 miles down the road to the Lower Dry Fork turnoff on the left hand side of the road. This access road can be rutted and uneven. One of our awesome readers recently wrote in with information that this road is now a gravel road that is suitable for standard vehicles (Prior to this, only high clearance vehicles could make it the entire 1.7 miles. Low-clearance vehicles would park halfway down the road and then you would have to walk to the trailhead).
There is a second trailhead, the Upper Dry Fork trailhead, that is located at mile 24 on Hole-in-the-Rock Road. From this trailhead, it is a longer hike to get to Spooky and Peek-A-Boo slots. This trail takes you through the Dry Fork Narrows.
About Hole-in-the-Rock Road. Hole-in-the-Rock Road is a well-packed dirt and gravel road. You can drive this is a car, although an SUV is preferable and a 4×4 is ideal. We drove a Toyota Forerunner with 4×4. If it has been raining, Hole-in-the-Rock Road can be impassable, even with a 4×4.
Important Note: Road conditions on Hole-in-the-Rock Road can change from year to year. In 2020, several of our readers reported that Hole-in-the-Rock Road is very rough and difficult to drive in a standard car. But more recently, we have been hearing that road is smooth and easy to drive. If you can, try to rent an SUV or a 4×4.
The trail to Spooky Gulch and Peek-A-Boo Gulch starts at the Lower Dry Fork parking lot and trailhead.
Getting to the Slot Canyons
The trail starts on a plateau with great views of the entire area. The first part of the hike involves walking down a combination of slick rock and sandy trails.
Make sure you follow the rock cairns (the stacked piles of stones). These cairns mark the trail.
The trail ends down at the sandy bottom of the Dry Fork wash. Straight in front of you is Peek-A-Boo Gulch. To the left is the Dry Fork Narrows. And if you follow the Dry Fork wash to the right you will get to Spooky Gulch.
Should you do this Hike as a Loop or Out-and-Back?
You have two options to hike these two slot canyons. You can combine Peek-A-Boo and Spooky Gulches into one big loop or you can hike each slot canyon individually.
Hiking each slot canyon out and back is a little more fun, because you get to do them twice. Plus, they are both very short (only about a quarter mile long) so it doesn’t add much time to retrace your steps. However, if you are short on time or like the idea of doing one big loop, consider linking them together.
Tim and I hiked each slot canyon separately. We did Spooky Gulch first and then Peek-A-Boo Gulch. Both are tons of fun, but I think I liked Peek-A-Boo a little more. With the sections of rock scrambling, this one was just a little more challenging and fun for me.
If you want to make one loop, I recommend starting with Peek-A-Boo and ending with Spooky . There is a difficult climb in Spooky Gulch, but if you start in the back you get to go down this section, making it a little easier.
The hardest part of Peek-A-Boo Gulch comes right at the beginning. In front of you is a 12 foot climb just to gain access into the slot canyon. It can be a little tricky getting up this, but if you are hiking with friends, it sometimes helps to a get a little boost up from them.
Once in Peek-A-Boo Gulch, enjoy the view. These sandstone arches look amazing!
As you hike up into the slot canyon, there are a series of smaller scrambles. Each can be challenging in their own way and the fun is trying to figure how to get through each obstacle.
This can be a little more difficult if it has recently rained. There may pools of nasty, stagnant water at each of these sections, something you definitely want to stay away from if you don’t want to walk around in soggy hiking shoes for the rest of the day.
As you climb up Peek-A-Boo Gulch, the walls get shorter and the rock scrambling sections get easier. Now it becomes a gorgeous walk through the ripples of the slot canyon.
At the back of the gulch, the trail climbs up onto flat ground. You can even look down into the narrow slot canyon. So, that’s why it’s called Peek-A-Boo Gulch!
From here, you can retrace your steps back through the slot canyon, or walk about 15 minutes on a flat, sandy trail to Spooky Gulch. It can take 30 to 45 minutes to hike this slot canyon out and back.
Why is it called Spooky Gulch? This slot canyon is much narrower and much darker than Peek-A-Boo. If you are claustrophobic, do not even attempt this part of the hike. This slot canyon is so narrow at times that it made Tim and I a little anxious, and we never have issues with claustrophobia.
From the entrance of Peek-A-Boo slot canyon, it is about a 10 minute walk down the Dry Fork wash to get to Spooky Gulch. The entrance into Spooky Canyon looks like this.
It starts off wide but wastes no time in thinning out. I recommend leaving your backpacks at the entrance, they only make hiking through these narrow spaces even more difficult (and this is another advantage to hiking each slot canyon out and back).
As you head to the back of Spooky Gulch, the canyon gets narrower and narrower and narrower. At times, we were almost dragging ourselves through the narrower spots.
It is beautiful in here, and it’s also a lot cooler than in the sunny Dry Fork canyon.
We were lucky during our visit in that we were the only ones in Spooky Gulch. I can’t imagine two way traffic in this extremely narrow space!
Towards the back of the canyon you will reach a dryfall of rock. This is very challenging to climb. You can climb it and continue on or turn around here and retrace your steps. It can take up to 30 minutes to hike this slot canyon out and back, depending on how far you go.
Dry Fork Narrows
While you are here, you can hike through the Dry Fork Narrows. This is another slot canyon but it is much wider that Spooky Gulch and rather unexciting after Peek-A-Boo Gulch.
What to Bring with You
Lots of Water. BLM recommends 4 liters of water per person.
Hiking Shoes. You can get by with a good pair of running shoes, but hiking shoes will give you more traction when rock scrambling through Peek-A-Boo Gulch.
Sunscreen. There is very little shade out here. The only time you will be out of the sun is the short amount of time you are in Spooky Gulch.
What to do Next
Visit Devils Garden , just 15 miles northwest on Hole-in-the-Rock Road, a 30-minute drive back towards Escalante.
Hike Zebra Slot Canyon , 19 miles northwest on Hole-in-the-Rock Road, a 40-minute drive back towards Escalante.
Explore 1, 2, or all 5 of Utah’s national parks. Learn more in our Utah’s Mighty 5 Travel Guide and Road Trip Itinerary.
If you like this hike, you’ll LOVE Little Wild Horse Canyon , which is in Utah, between Capitol Reef National Park and Moab.
Tours of Peek A Boo Canyon
If you want to hike Peek-A-Boo Canyon but feel more comfortable doing this with a guide, this small-group tour includes your transportation from Kanab and you hike Peek-A-Boo Canyon with an experienced guide.
Have you hiked Peek-A-Boo or Spooky Gulches? Do you have any advice for our readers? Comment below!
More Information about Utah
UTAH ITINERARY: If you need ideas on how to plan your road trip through Utah, check out our 7 to 10 day Mighty 5 Itinerary , our Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef Road Trip , and our 14-day American Southwest Itinerary.
GRAND STAIRCASE-ESCALANTE: In Grand Staircase-Escalante, hike Willis Creek, explore Devils Garden , and hike through Zebra Slot Canyon.
LITTLE WILD HORSE CANYON: Little Wild Horse Canyon is a narrow slot canyon that is a blast to hike. It can be visited while driving between Moab and Capitol Reef National Park. Goblin Valley State Park sits nearby so these can be combined in the same visit.
ZION NARROWS: There are two ways to hike the Narrows: top-down or bottom up . Journey down the Zion Narrows in photos and learn how to hike the Narrows top-down.
ARCHES NATIONAL PARK: If you are short on time, check out our One Day in Arches National Park to learn the best way to spend your time here.
Planning a trip through the United States? Read all of our articles about Utah in our Utah Travel Guide in our United States Travel Guide.
Note: This post contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase using one of these affiliate links, we get paid a small commission at no extra cost to you.
All rights reserved © Earth Trekkers. Republishing this article and/or any of its contents (text, photography, etc.), in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited.
Is it possible to just do Peekaboo and head back to the trailhead overland if we odn’t want to do Spooky?
Yes, you can hike Peekaboo out and back and then head back to the car once you are finished. Two years ago, people were writing in the loop became one way because of Covid precautions, but I don’t think this is the case any more. Cheers, Julie
Hi Julie, we will be there the first week of March (2022). Would you expect the water to be very deep? How about in Zebra?
I have not heard of there being water at Peek-A-Boo (there wasn’t any on our visit). As for Zebra, it really depends if they got rain or snow recently. I think the deeper water is more common during the summer, when rain storms are more likely. We did this hike at the beginning of May and there was some standing water, but it wasn’t too deep. But again, it really depends on the recent weather. Cheers, Julie
I did this hike yesterday! I was driving from Kanab and only got to Moab around 10:45, but it was well worth it – one of my favorite hikes ever. It’s mid-October and I think it’s been dry for a while, so both roads were fine for my little hybrid. I was lucky enough to have both canyons almost entirely to myself, except for one family who didn’t go past either entrance. It’s now recommended that you do a loop (Peek-A-Boo through Spooky) so there’s no two-way traffic. I had so much fun scrambling in Peek-A-Boo! The entrance was much easier for me than the interior scrambles, mainly because of some big pools of muddy water. I was able to avoid some, but ended up on my butt in one of them – all part of the fun! I definitely ended up doing some parkour in Peek-A-Boo that I didn’t know I was capable of (chimney climb featuring my head, for example). There was no rope going down into Spooky. I had to figure out where to go down to the floor with no real markers, but thankfully I noticed a terrifying horror-movie-esque claw mark left by someone who clearly slid down the rocks into the abyss. Keeping this in mind, I did a controlled wedge-and-slide between the massive boulders to get to the trail. It would take some impressive climbing skills to get out that way without a rope. I have a few scrapes and bruises from the hike, but I sure feel accomplished!
Hello Belle. Thanks so much for writing in and sharing your experience! Cheers, Julie
is Peek a boo good for kids?
family of 4 (kids 6 and 8) so just curious if we can get past the initial 12 foot hike with only 2 adults assisting especially the little one (short 6 y/o)?
Thank you, your pictures are amazing and narrative is appreciated!
Maybe. I’ve heard reports from others about getting young kids up the 12 foot wall, so it is possible, but honestly, I’ve wondered how they did it. You might need an adult at the bottom and one at the top, to help lift/pull the kids up. But once past that point the rest will be easy. Good luck! Cheers, Julie
We hiked Peekaboo and Spooky in early June 2021. The 26 miles of Hole in the Rock Road are VERY rough in a passenger car. Hard to go more than 20 mph. We were on our way to Capitol Reef and had all of our luggage with us and ended up with two leaking rear shock absorbers on a year old car. The canyons were spectacular so no regrets but we’ll rent a Jeep for the day next time.
We completed this hike May 17 2021. The road past the overflow lot to the main trailhead has been improved and is easily passable with 2WD. There are vault toilets at the trailhead as well. Hole-in-the-Rock was freshly wash-boarded Spring 2021. Bumpy but manageable! This was my second favorite hike in all of Utah. I would suggest completing the loop; it would have been really difficult to pass other hikers in Spooky!! Dry Fork Gulch is interesting, beautiful, and mostly shaded. About 3/4 mile in, there is an exit to an overland trail back to the Trailhead. If you have some extra energy and time, it’s a worthy add. Bring Water and Sun Protection!
Thanks so much for writing in with these updates!
It was a lot of fun but hard when you have to do the 10ish foot drop where you have to climb down a rope. there was a lot of people in front of us and so it took about 20 mins to get through that part but the little kids could get down it with help and some can just jump down
Is there a place nearby where you would recommend camping? I am planning to go this upcoming weekend.
I don’t know of camping locations near Hole in the Rock Road or Spooky Slot (we stayed at lodging in Tropic).
When you hang a right onto Hole in the rock (coming from Escalante) a little road will pop up ~200 yards down on the right and thats just all dispersed camping there. As for what sort of neighbors youll end up with that is hit or miss but you can definitely camp just about anywhere there and use existing fire rings.
I did this hike 2 days ago (thanks for your guide!) and this was my first time in Escalante in ~5 years and holy cow has it gotten busier. Im from Denver and there were more ppl at osme of these spots than you would see at a popular Front Range hike in the Denver/Boulder area. Shocking really. I mean i was there too so i was part of that crowd.
Anyway, just wanted ot note something i saw which was quite a few ppl were physically incapable of the initial climb into peek-a-boo and thus were trudging down the wash to Spooky and trying to come up Spooky while ppl were coming down. These folks didnt have the skills/strength to stem up the walls so there guaranteed to be a mass pile-up of stuck folks. Not great.. It was 80 and sunny and lots of ppl and their dogs really shouldnt have been there.
Basically, if anyone is interested in doing this the answer is, as always with hiking, go early. Be at the trailhead before everyone else and youll avoid crowds/heat and ppl coming up Spooky.
Given the absolute crush of crowds i dont think ill return to Escalante again except for in the winter.
Thanks for writing in with this information. A lot of people have been asking where to camp so this is great info. We did this hike May 2017 and had very little crowds. It sounds like a lot has changed since then. Thanks again! Cheers, Julie
We boondocked at the Overflow Parking Lot the night before, then started out early and had the canyons to ourselves.
If you’re fat, or have a large upper body, don’t go into Spooky. You’ll likely end up trying to go backwards (which is either super difficult to impossible depending on your strength and flexibility)
I’m 5’6″, 225 lbs. I can lift my own bodyweight. I may be fat but I handled both Peekaboo and Spooky without issues. Lots of giggles though!
We hiked this today and absolutely loved it. Thank you so much for all of the useful info. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to make it up into Peekaboo but there was a rope at the top and a hand from my husband did the trick. I was also worried I would not fit in Spooky. I’m 52 years old, 5’7, a size 12 and have two artificial knees. There were a couple of tight spots but I didn’t struggle much to get through. My only regret is that I didn’t slow down and enjoy it more.
Hello Liz. Thanks for writing in! That’s great that there is now a rope!! And I totally understand your regret…we also sometimes rush through hikes, just to get to the next experience, but wish that we had spent more time. I hope you enjoy whatever else remains on your trip! Cheers, Julie
Leave A Comment Cancel reply
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Save my name and email in this browser for the next time I comment.
Sign me up for the monthly newsletter!
Sign Up or Log In
Share on hiking project.
Taking other people's content (text, photos, etc) without permission is a copyright violation and NOT OKAY!
Flag Inappropriate Post
Spam? Being a jerk / offensive? This is about an injury or accident Something else? Please explain.
If it's not super-obvious, tell us why:
Peek-A-Boo & Spooky Slot Canyons
“ amazing slot canyons in the heart of utah. ”.
4,952' 1,509 m
4,673' 1,424 m, 403' 123 m, 404' 123 m, know this trail, dogs off-leash, features views, need to know, description.
Land Manager: BLM Utah - Kanab Field Office
Current trail conditions, conditions history, add check-in, nearby recommended routes.
Coyote Gulch Loop Trail
13.5 mi 21.8 km • 1,479' Up 450.71 m Up • 1,482' Down 451.58 m Down
Little Death Hollow to Wolverine Canyon
17.9 mi 28.8 km • 2,564' Up 781.39 m Up • 2,449' Down 746.6 m Down
Halls Creek and Narrows Route (Grand Gulch)
23.7 mi 38.2 km • 2,455' Up 748.3 m Up • 2,456' Down 748.52 m Down
Upper Boulder Creek
8.4 mi 13.6 km • 1,071' Up 326.49 m Up • 1,055' Down 321.46 m Down
Lower Muley Twist Canyon Loop
15.4 mi 24.9 km • 1,051' Up 320.29 m Up • 1,051' Down 320.33 m Down
Boulder to Highway 12 via Lower Death Hollow
20.0 mi 32.2 km • 1,477' Up 450.33 m Up • 3,052' Down 930.1 m Down
Difficulty ratings, difficulty rating, average from 45 votes:, your rating, virtual tour of peek-a-boo & spooky slot canyons.
- Top Contributors
- Share Your Adventures & Photos
- Mountain Project
- MTB Project
- Hiking Project
- Trail Run Project
- Powder Project
- National Parks
Discover Which Colorado Mountain Town is right for you
Hiking Peekaboo Slot Canyon and Spooky Canyon
- September 19, 2021
- By foxintheforest
For an uber-fun and easily accessible slot canyon experience, you’ve got to check out Peekaboo Slot Canyon and Spooky slot canyon in Escalante, Utah. This canyon duo features a little bit of everything – wavy slots, scrambling, narrow squeezes, and even an arch!
As one of the top slot canyons in Utah Peek a Boo canyon and its twin Spooky slot canyon deliver big on adventure. With just enough scrambling, this feels like a true slot canyon experience without all of the technical gear.
Located about 1 hour down the famous Hole in the Rock Road just outside of Escalante, these signature slot canyons are some of the most accessible canyons in Utah. In fact, I’ve watched this trail go from being some no-name blip on the map to a fully developed trailhead that no longer requires high clearance to visit.
Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to head out on many amazing Escalante hikes, but I keep coming back to Peekaboo and Spooky slot canyons. The are literally that fun. As someone who has hiked these canyons many times, you can guarantee you’re getting the best tips and tricks on the internet.
It’s my mission to empower you to visit Peek a Boo and Spooky slot canyons like a local, not a tourist. So here’s what you need to know to have a safe and fun-filled romp through this unique canyon system.
About this guide to Spooky Slot Canyon and Peekaboo Slot Canyon
If you’re looking for expert advice on hiking both Peekaboo slot canyon and Spooky slot canyon, then you’re in the right place. Inside this mega-guide you’ll find:
- The best time to visit Peekabo and Spooky slot canyons
- Practical info about the hiking route including difficulty, duration, kid and dog friendliness, a map, and more
- Directions to the Peek a Boo and Spooky Slot canyon trailhead
- Step-by-step guide for your hike
- Tips about staying safe in slot canyons
- What to bring
- Nearby camping
- Additional adventures nearby
When is the best time to visit Peek a Boo Slot Canyon and Spooky Gulch?
The best time to hike in any slot canyon is during dry, clear-weather forecasts. Remember, slot canyons, including Peekaboo and Spooky slot canyons, kill people every year due to unexpected flash floods. Use a tool like weather.gov to check the weather (just type in the slot canyon) for several days, including the day you plan to hike.
Pro Tip : You can also get the latest weather.gov forecast at the Escalante BLM Field Office in downtown Escalante.
If there’s a clear forecast, you can hike these magnificent slot canyons year-round. However, the best times to hike are in the spring or fall months. Weather is typically a little bit drier and less windy in the fall, but both seasons provide mild temperatures perfect for desert adventures.
These are also busy times, so be sure to start your hike before 8 am if you want to avoid the crowds. (Yes, this trail does get crowded and I’ve seen a tremendous increase in people accessing these canyons over the years).
Winter is another excellent time to visit if you don’t mind the cold (you’ll have plenty of solitude). Summers should be avoided. It’s extremely hot and during the summer months, monsoon rains are common making flash flood hazards particularly dangerous.
It’s no secret that Peekaboo and Spooky slot canyons are some of the best hikes in Utah . As such, it gets crowded here. If you want to beat the crowds, be at the trailhead prior to 8 am.
Also, be sure to hike Peek a Boo slot canyon and Spooky Gulch starting with Peek a Boo slot canyon. There are several reasons for this. First, Peek a Boo Canyon starts with a bit of a rock climb – it’s easier to go up this than down. Secondly, most people travel the canyons this way, so you will avoid pesky traffic jams in the extremely narrow Spooky slot canyon.
Other important info to highlight includes:
Total miles: around 4.5 miles round trip if you include a trip to the nearby Dry Fork Narrows (more on that later) Elevation Gain : 633 feet Difficulty : easy to moderate if you’ve done some slot canyons before. If this is your first one, it’ll be a challenge so be prepared. Estimated Time: 3 to 4 hours. Experienced parties can do it in 2. Red Tape : SUV is recommended to reach the trailhead. It is a long, bumpy road with plenty of washboard, bumps, and ruts. If it’s recently rained, the road can remain muddy for days and require a high-clearance 4WD vehicle.
Pro Tip: There are actually two Peek a Boo slot canyons in Utah. The other one is outside of Kanab and is a completely different hike. Don’t confuse the two!
How Long Does It Take to Hike Peek A Boo and Spooky Slot Canyons
The time it takes to complete the Peek a Boo and Spooky slot canyon hike largely depends on your ability. Most people should budget 3 to 4 hours for this hike. Plan for more time if you have kids or you want to take a lot of photos.
Keep in mind, the trail is not well defined once you leave Peekaboo Slot Canyon, so having a GPS downloaded in advance is essential.
I’ve done this hike several times and it’s taken me anywhere from 2 to 3 hours, but I move very fast and have ample climbing experience.
How Long is the Peakaboo Slot Canyon Hike?
The Peekaboo slot canyon is typically done with its sister – Spooky slot canyon. This is thanks to an 18-foot climb into Peekaboo slot canyon that makes for a difficult, class 5 downclimb many people won’t be comfortable with. Since you should do both canyons, the route is about 3-ish miles round trip. Adding on a trip down the narrows of nearby Dry Fork Canyon adds an additional 1.7 miles to the day.
Is Peekaboo Canyon Free?
Yes! There is no cost to enter Peekaboo slot canyon. However, you will be driving about an hour down a washboard-ridden, bumpy road that has plenty of tire ruts.
Map of Spooky Slot Canyon and Peekaboo Slot Canyon
The trail for Spooky Slot Canyon and Peekaboo Slot Canyon is a lollipop loop. You’ll start at a high point at the trailhead and wind your way down to a drainage basin. From here you can see the entrance for Peekaboo Slot Canyon.
The route takes you up Peek a Boo slot canyon, then down Spooky Canyon back to the trail that goes towards the parking lot. Dry Fork canyon is also nearby and worth checking out after you get back to the trail junction.
How to Get to Peekaboo Slot Canyon and Peek a Boo Canyon
Head south on BLM Road 200, more commonly known as Hole in the Rock Road just southeast of Escalante. Now begins the tedious, bumpy romp down about an hour of rocky washboard.
Each year this road erodes more and more and it’s gotten quite bad in recent years. It’s highly recommended that you drive at least a crossover SUV. Passenger cars will have to plot their route carefully and pay attention to the weather.
I’ve done this road both in an Acura RDX (dry conditions, not an issue) and a Toyota 4Runner (wet and would have been impassable without a vehicle this capable). Both were suitable, especially in dry conditions. We’ve even seen a Tesla on this thing (yikes), but I wouldn’t recommend it.
What’s worse, is if it has rained recently, the road is so eroded it often pools water for several days. The last time I was here it was snowing and the road was like a slip and slide with ruts. Regular 2WD cars were stalled out and it’s a remote place, help isn’t coming quickly. Tows out here costs around $1,500.
Eventually, you’ll reach a signed turnoff for the Spooky Gulch and Peekaboo Canyon trailhead. The road used to be high-clearance only to the upper trailhead, but now it’s been smoothed over with gravel. There is ample parking at the trailhead and vault toilets.
Pro Tip : Download navigation maps and your GPS file well in advance – there is no cell service out here. Verizon occasionally has a bar or two, but I wouldn’t rely on it.
Are Peekaboo Canyon and Spooky Slot Canyon Kid Friendly?
Overall yes. Plenty of young kids enjoy Spooky gulch and Peek a Boo canyon as one of the best hikes in Kanab . However, this route might not be suitable for all children – especially smaller kids who cannot reach up and climb on their own.
There is an 18-foot climb to access Peek a Boo Canyon that will require you to reach upwards and likely isn’t suitable for babies or toddlers. It is the toughest section of the hike and it’s at the entrance to the canyon.
Also, Spooky canyon has one fixed line with about an 8 to 10-foot drop that requires you to walk down a small boulder and stem (putting your feet on the canyon wall and the boulder) in order to access Spooky canyon. By the time you reach this point, there is no easy return so keep that in mind.
Can I Bring My Dog to Spooky and Peekaboo Slot Canyons?
Technically dogs are allowed in this area. However, this route is absolutely not suitable for pets. The 18-foot climb is not dog friendly, nor is the roped drop. Even if you can fit your dog in a bag, you’ll for sure have to hold your pack out in front of you in Spooky slot canyon. The narrowest sections of this canyon are only around 12-18 inches wide and require you to walk sideways with your bag out in front of you.
Do I Need to Hire a Guide?
Hiring a guide for Spooky and Peekaboo slot canyons is not required. In fact, if you’re a relatively confident hiker, you understand how to navigate, and you aren’t squeamish about a little bit of climbing and scrambling (using your hands for low-angled climbing) you’ll be just fine without a guide.
However, if this is your first slot canyon experience and you don’t have any climbing experience, then hiring a guide is a great way to still explore this incredible landscape.
How to Reach Peek a Boo Slot Canyon
The hike starts on top of a plateau. The wide, obvious trail slowly winds its way down towards a basin. Eventually, you’ll reach a slickrock drainage you’ll work your way down. From here you’ll spill out onto a small, sandy trail.
Pro Tip : There is no shade at all until you enter the canyons, so plan accordingly.
After walking through a wash you’ll reach the main drainage. Now it’s time to get oriented.
The canyon to your left with the big boulder in front of it is Dry Fork Canyon. It’s a gentle sandy bottom walk that frequently has big puddles. Save this one for the way back.
In front of you is a wash that seems to have not much going on. But just to the right of that you will see a big red rock wall with a small pool (usually has water) in front of it. This is the entrance to Peek a Boo slot canyon and your next destination.
You can see there is a (hopefully) dry drainage that continues to head right or east for a few minutes until a few social trails branch out north. This eventually takes you to the narrows of Spooky Slot Canyon.
Pro Tip: There are a few signs along the way (more keep getting added), but you’ll want a GPS route downloaded to navigate.
Navigating Peek a Boo Slot Canyon
The biggest obstacle in Peek a Boo slot canyon is the imposing 18-foot-high climb that is required to enter the canyon. There are a few pockets cut into the rock that make the climbing a little easier, but it’s certainly a challenge for the uninitiated.
Pro Tip : Wear hiking shoes or boots with sticky rubber. Tennis or gym shoes don’t have the traction to make the climb feel cozy.
Once you’re in you’re immediately greeted with amazing rock formations, including an archway. This transportation to another world continues, with a few scrambly moves requiring you to stem (use friction to place one foot on each canyon wall) and scramble your way to the top of the canyon.
Once you reach the top of the canyon, you’ll be dumped back out into the desert. Your goal is to hike about 10 minutes to the right, following a vague path. Keep in mind, this path comes and goes, making it challenging for newbie hikers.
Here’s where the route gets tough. There are social trails and cow paths everywhere. Unfortunately, several people have built cairns (rock piles) just for the sake of it, which actually confuses hikers – please don’t do this or let your kiddos do this!
You’ll want a GPS to work your way around the never-ending sand and rock behind Peekaboo slot canyon in order to reach Spooky Slot Canyon.
Hiking Spooky Slot Canyon
Eventually, the sand will give way to a narrow canyon entrance. This is Spooky slot canyon (also called Spooky gulch) and boy does it live up to its namesake!
The canyon starts off a little wide and quickly gets more narrow and deeper. You’ll for sure be stemming here (walking along the canyon walls with one foot on each wall). There are several steep drops, most of which can be navigated by stemming.
About halfway in you’ll reach a very steep drop with a chockstone and a hand line. Simply use the knotted handline to lower yourself into the canyon to the bottom.
There are several spots where this canyon is so narrow, you’ll have no room to walk forward. You’ll need to side shuffle with your pack. Now, I’m a fairly skinny gal and I had very few issues.
I took my friend on his very first slot canyon hike here. He’s a bigger, plus-sized guy. He was able to make the squeezes. If you find yourself getting stuck there is usually a stemming work-around. Simply back up until you have a little more room and send it upwards.
Pro Tip : The first time I did this hike, I actually got so frightened that I had entered the wrong canyon and I wouldn’t be able to get out. This is where I learned that GPS devices do not work in narrow canyons. Yes the walls are very steep and yes the canyon squeezes to be almost impossibly narrow, but you’re on the right path!
Eventually, Spooky gulch begins to widen again and you’ll be dumped into a wash with a couple of social trails. This wash joins up with the main wash you encountered in the beginning at a T-like intersection. Head right back past the entrance to Peek a Boo slot canyon and retrace your steps back to the car.
Dry Fork Slot Canyon
Dry Fork is an optional adventure that’s certainly worth checking out if you’re here. It’s an easy walk down a sandy-bottom narrow section of the canyon. Typically, there are standing pools of water in here, but you can travel down this slot canyon for as long as you would like.
The narrows eventually widen. Simply come back the way you came once you’re finished exploring.
Tips for Hiking in Slot Canyons
First and foremost, it’s important to note that slot canyons can be dangerous places if you’re not prepared. Peekaboo and Spooky slot canyons are in a remote area that’s difficult to access. Be prepared to be on your own out here. If you need rescue it’s going to take a minute. Here are a few desert hiking safety tips to keep in mind.
Always check the weather . Always. Slot canyons, especially Spooky gulch and Peekaboo canyon, are very prone to deadly flash floods. Never hike in a rainy forecast. I’ve seen these canyons spit water after a wet snowstorm – it didn’t look inviting!
Dress in layers. Slot canyons can be cold places with sometimes up to 40-degree temperature swings inside a canyon. They see little light, so always pack a few extra layers.
Wear pants. The desert has a lot of prickly plants and the rock can be rough on the skin. Pack pants to avoid unwanted scrapes and cuts.
Bring plenty of water and salty snacks . You’ll want at least 2 liters of water per person for this hike. Have water in the car too. There are no services for many miles so you’ll need to bring in all of your supplies.
Wear sturdy footwear . You will be using your feet to climb up rocks. Sandstone can be particularly slippery, so having footwear with good traction is essential.
Bring sun protection . There is no shade on this hike until you get into the canyon. You’ll want ample sun protection (hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, and a sunshirt). Especially if you’re hiking in the summer.
Leave no trace . Pack out all trash (this includes human waste like poop and toilet paper). There are vault toilets at the trailhead, but bring the proper equipment to pack it out.
Don’t bust the crust. The raised, bumpy, black soil of the desert is a living organism called cryptobiotic soil. It takes a while to grow and is the lynchpin for stopping erosion and giving much-needed nutrients to the ecosystem. hike on sturdy surfaces like rock when possible and walk around cryptobiotic soils.
Wear clothing you don’t care about. Sandstone is abrasive and ripping clothing is common. Wear older stuff you don’t mind getting torn up.
Safety SOS buttons do not work in canyons . If you go in, be prepared to get yourself out. Safety devices can’t send a signal in canyons this narrow.
What to Pack for Peek a Boo and Spooky Slot Canyons
Wondering what to bring on your Peekabo and Spooky slot canyons hike? Here’s a list of the essentials:
- A small streamlined hiking pack (20L is sufficeint). A big, bulky pack will be in your way and may make Spooky Canyon impassible. I highly recommend the REI Flash .
- Small hiking first aid kit
- 2L of water per person
- Sunscreen, sunhat, sunglasses, sunshirt
- An extra layer
- Extra pair of socks (you can leave these in the car, but it’s helpful if the canyon is wet)
- salty snacks
- GPS with the route downloaded for offline use
- Sturdy footwear
Camping Near Spooky and Peekaboo Slot Canyons
There are plenty of dispersed, free camping areas near Peek a Boo gulch. Simply drive down one of the many offshoot roads to find campsites. Note that these sites have zero amenities. You are expected to pack it in and pack it out.
Wanna learn how to find amazing free campsites and camp off the grid? You can check out the free camping mini-course.
Grand Staircase Escalante is an absolute adventurer’s paradise. This area features plenty of incredible adventures if you have a 4WD vehicle to reach them. A few notable nearby areas worth checking out include:
- Zebra Slot Canyon and Tunnel Slot Canyon
- Egypt Canyon (some techinical ability required)
- Reflection Canyon on Lake Powell
- Coyote Gulch
Other Utah Hiking Resources
Wanna hike in Utah like a pro, not a tourist? These guides are designed to give you the secrets to enjoying the hottest places in Utah without the crowds.
- How to Beat the Crowds at Bryce Canyon
- Hiking Little Wildhorse Slot Canyon
- Canyonlands vs Arches National Park What’s Right for You?
PIN THIS POST
Meg is a long-time Colorado local and outdoor industry professional. She's spent the last 15 years hiking, climbing, mountaineering, and canyoneering all over Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and Nevada in search of the best views. She's written for Outside Magazine, REI, Backpacker Magazine, and appeared on the Weather Channel.
Meg aka Fox is a 30-something who's born to explore. Toddler mom, queer, and neuro-spicy her favorite things to do are climb in the alpine and camp in the desert. Her mission is to get you out on your greatest adventure.
Top ways to experience Spooky Gulch and nearby attractions
Also popular with travelers
Spooky Gulch - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos)
Spooky gulch information.