Within the Utah/Arizona region that holds the highest concentration of slot canyons compared to anywhere else in the world, Antelope Canyon is probably the most famous of them all. Almost everyone has seen a photo of or been to Antelope Canyon. Typical photos include abstracts of glowing orange and subdued purple colors twirled together as if Mother Nature’s paintbrush swept the walls. If it weren’t for the people posing within the narrow river-carved and wind-swept canyon, it would be easy to assume that it was a corridor of fantastical dreams.
The day after Antelope Canyon, we explored two more slot canyons that were tucked away within Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Getting to the Peek-A-Boo and Spooky Canyons was an adventure in itself; the 26 mile unpaved dirt road will rattle any high-clearance vehicle and the Dry Fork Trailhead leading up to the parking lot is even rougher.
The vast, sparse desert presented us with steep climbs and descents on sand but it was beautiful nonetheless. Trails at Grand Staircase-Escalante are not marked by signs but only cairns, which made the search for the slot canyons even more challenging.
After purposely venturing off-course and trudging through the sandy desert, we finally caught sight of some cairns in the distance and made our way to Spooky Canyon. Although reminiscent of creamy chocolate, the walls of Spooky Canyon were so cramped and narrow that even I felt the need to suck in my stomach in order to squeeze through the waves of walls. At first, the entrance was wide enough, with walls that resembled a chocolate macaron cookie or wafer.
Peek-A-Boo Canyon was not as narrow, but its entrance was unique to other slot canyons we had visited. We actually hiked it in reverse from the bottom up and ended up sliding down the elevated entrance instead of climbing up into the slot canyon.
Our Utah national parks adventure finally came to a close with slot canyons: the acclaimed Antelope Canyon, and the secluded Spooky and Peek-A-Boo Canyons. Over the course of 2.5 weeks we hiked Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Little Wild Horse Canyon, Goblin Valley State Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Bryce National Park, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Zion National Park, Antelope Canyon, and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Like everywhere else we’ve traveled, we yearned to stay longer, to hike more trails, to see more parks. As a woman mentioned to us at a coffee shop, “You never want to leave Utah.” But with only a couple more months on this road trip, it was necessary to continue. At least our next destination was another national park, the Grand Tetons in Wyoming. And with Utah being so close to California, it definitely won’t be long before we return.