Off the Beaten Path – Exploring the Slot Canyons of the Southwest

Slot canyons are a unique natural oddity, formed in areas with relatively minimal rainfall, these narrow canyons are carved over millions of years, forming an unmistakable imprint in the surrounding desert. Sometimes spanning miles in length, these canyons differ from the typical mental picture you may have formed.

Because of the manner in which they are shaped, slot canyons can be thousands of feet deep, and yet narrow to no more than a few feet. Because these types of canyons are especially prone to flooding during rainy weather, be sure to plan any visits during the dry season.

Antelope Canyon
Nestled on part of the Navajo reservation land, Antelope Canyon is located near Page, Arizona. Antelope has the honor of being the most photographed of the slot canyons, so it may be the image which leaps to mind if you’re already familiar with these types of canyons. Antelope Canyon is a popular choice because it is reasonably accessible, making it attractive to the public at large.

Echo Canyon
Situated in Zion National Park, Echo Canyon is accessible via the Hidden Canyon Trail. If you wish to travel the entire length of Echo, some fairly advanced skills are required. While the lower part of the canyon can be explored easily enough by the novice outdoorsman, traversing its entirety requires rappelling (for which a is permit required) and swimming in some sections.

Zion Canyon Narrows slot online
Neighboring Echo, Zion Canyon is also located in Zion National Park (as the name might suggest). Formed by the Virgin River, the entire canyon bottom is submerged, so you will have to be willing to get a bit wet. The best time to hike this canyon is from summer into the fall months, because the water level is generally lower. However, it is important to be safety-conscious, and always note the flood danger, which is posted daily by the National Park Service.

Cathedral Wash
Set in the world-famous Grand Canyon National Park, Cathedral Wash is a tributary to the Colorado River. Approximately four miles from Lee’s Ferry, there is a parking area near Cathedral Rock, the wash’s namesake. The canyon itself is fairly short, making it a simple and popular destination among beginning hikers.

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