We awoke as the morning sun began to warm our tent. When it became almost too hot to bear, we stepped outside to begin getting ready for the day ahead. After making breakfast and packing our daypacks, we headed out to explore the nearby slot canyons at Dry Fork Trailhead.
The turnoff for Dry Fork Trailhead lies 26.6 miles down Hole-in-the-Rock Road. After turning off the main road, we came across a small parking area, where various cars park if they are not able to make it over the obstacles leading to the trailhead. We stopped briefly and debated, but decided that our old Saturn Vue would hopefully make the short trip. There were times where the car was at a strong tilting angle, and there were a few larger rocks here and there, but we made it without any damage to the car.
Dry Fork Slot
Off we went in search of Peek-A-Boo Slot, hiking down some slickrock from the trailhead and into a dry river bed. A short distance from the bottom of the descent, the mouth of an unknown slot canyon came into view to the left of the wash. We brought out the handy compass and decided that this canyon couldn’t be Spooky or Peek-A-Boo. Later along the trail, we found out from another hiker that this is Dry Fork Slot.
Well, we were already there, so why not explore this canyon? The wide distance between the orange walls confirmed for us that we were not in either of the slot canyons we planned to find ourselves in. The sun lighting up the canyon was stunning though, and we knew we had the extra time to explore. We wandered through the canyon for about 10 minutes, until hitting a confluence. Here, we turned around in order to ensure that we made it to the lower entrance of Peek-A-Boo.
After heading east along the riverbed, just a few minute walk from the entrance of Dry Fork Slot, we found ourselves at the entrance to Peek-A-Boo on the left side of the wash. Here we encountered a large puddle gathered at the base of the 20-foot climb into the canyon. This was the first of many unexpected pools that we came across.
We skirted around the puddle, but the climb up into the canyon was made more difficult with wet, sandy shoes. There are a few small steps built into the rock, leading up to the entrance. However, we definitely had to rely on our climbing abilities slightly to make it up without sliding back down.
Another unexpected pool lay right at the mouth of the canyon. After a minute of unsuccessfully trying to skirt around the pool, we said “screw it,” took our shoes off, and stepped into the cold water. Our legs were soaked, but it didn’t matter even the slightest. This canyon jungle gym is filled with arches, tight corners, and cascading steps that we had a blast maneuvering.
Eventually, we climbed steeply out of the canyon up into the sun. By this time, the sun was hot overhead as we made our way overland to the mouth of Spooky Slot. The trail was not well defined, but we headed to the right out of Peek-A-Boo and followed the cairns until reaching a wide riverbed. This riverbed lead south directly to the mouth of Spooky.
As the riverbed descends into Spooky Slot, the walls grow closer, the air becomes cooler, and the sunlight fades considerably, giving this slot canyon its appropriate name. Early in our excursion through this slot, we encountered a rocky obstacle. We had to take off our packs and squeeze through a hole between boulders, dropping several feet further down into the canyon. We had to keep our packs off for a ways to be able to squeeze between the walls.
In Spooky, we found ourselves among other arches, desert objects trapped there by large forces of water, and uniquely textured walls, making this slot different, but equally as beautiful as the previous canyons we explored that day. The canyon eventually widens and somewhat abruptly opens up back into the same riverbed that runs past Peek-A-Boo.
Extra Notes on these Slot Canyons
You can also hike the slot canyons in this area in a different way than we did them, starting in Spooky and finishing with either Peek-A-Boo or Dry Fork. We have heard and read various opinions, some saying that starting in Spooky and coming down through Peek-A-Boo is easier. If you decide to start at Spooky, continue past Peek-A-Boo, and you will see a large Juniper Bush on the left near the entrance to Spooky Slot.
If you feel that you are not up for something you come across in the canyons, don’t worry about it! You can do one canyon or even a portion of these canyons if that feels better for you and the people you are be with. These canyons are not too technical, but there are a few drops and some mild climbing involved. Just take your time and have fun!
In preparing for the slot canyons, bring plenty of water and maybe some snacks for the day. Also, make sure that the bag you bring is easy to carry in your hand. Some sections may be too tight to wear it on your back.
Water-friendly shoes may also be helpful if there’s water and you aren’t too keen on walking barefoot through the desert. Lastly, make sure you have a good idea of where to go between the canyons because the trails can be hard to follow at times. Take a look at our guide for exploring the area to make sure you’re prepared.
Combining Dry Fork, Peek-A-Boo, and Spooky slots is an effective way to make the most of a day in Escalante. These three slot canyons make for approximately a 3.5-mile hike that is packed full of fun, climbing, and winding through the cracks and crevices of this area.