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Grandstaff Canyon

The best, most accessible slot canyons in the area. A great chance to see how water carves out some beautiful shapes in sandstone.


Wow factor


Overall rating




Trailhead access


If there’s just one hike you should do along the Hole-in-the-Rock Road it’s this one. You could hike the first three in around 3 hours so it’s just a half day trip from Escalante. Take the Dry Fork Road turnoff at the 26 mile mark of the Hole-in-the-Rock Road and drive the 1.7 miles to the trailhead. It’s fine for most cars in dry weather but can be sandy. The Dry Fork Road forks after a few hundred yards so stay left to access the trailhead. The chances are you’ll see other cars in the parking area.


There are 4 slot canyons here and you can hike any or all of them, time permitting, as all four are on the same trail that is fairly well marked. The hike down to the canyon floor is not strenuous and after 20 minutes or so. It’s difficult to get lost even if you miss a cairn or two.


At the bottom and to your left is Dry Fork which is well worth a short side trip. Technically it’s a slot canyon though the walls are nowhere near as confined as Peek-a-boo or, particularly Spooky. You could spend 20-30 minutes here.


Hike out of Dry Fork and you’ll find yourself at the base of Peek-a-boo. The entrance is about 10-12 feet above you. There are a few handily carved steps up to it, though it’s not easy and some people may require some help. Once up and inside you’re in a fantasy world of sculpted rock. You won’t miss the unique double arch just beyond the entrance and, as you progress, you find yourself twisting, turning and scrambling while negotiating the contours. It seems a like there’s a photo opp around every bend. After about 1/3 mile the trail splits. You can either return the way you came or turn right to follow the marked ½ mile trail to the head of Spooky.


Spooky is well-named. It’s dark for much of the way with the trail so constricted that you’ll need to remove your pack at times and slither sideways in order to get through. There’s a 10 foot rockfall that requires some scrambling. The gulch is sinuous in the extreme and the pockmarked appearance of the sandstone is quite different from that in Peek-a-boo. As Spooky becomes more popular the more likely it is for you to meet others along the way. If they’re heading in the opposite direction it can get awkward to pass them, and it may mean backtracking a little to find an area wide enough for both parties to pass.


When you hike out of Spooky just turn right and follow the wash back past the entrance to Peek-a-boo and back to the trailhead. However, if you still need more exercise then turn left and head down to Brimstone. It’s a 30 minute walk that becomes increasingly more strenuous. Brimstone is a very narrow and dark slot but it’s tough in places so certainly not for canyon novices. It is possible to get stuck here so please be careful if you attempt it. It’s at least an hour’s hike back to your car from here.


Note: do not enter any of the slots if it looks like rain. These slots are just about the last places I’d want to be caught in in the event of a flash flood. Do check the weather before you enter. That said, I can heartily recommend this trip as a southern Utah highlight. You won’t be disappointed.

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