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Backpacker Magazine – January 2014

Canyon Hikes

Sample the Southwest’s most distinctive scenery—from intricate to immense—on these reader favorites.

by: Sarah Stewart

Photo by Draper White
Photo by BP0114SW_White_PeekaBoo_bjk445x260.jpg
Photo by Draper White

Grand Staircase-Escalante NM, UT
Peek-a-Boo and Spooky Gulches

Blinding desert sunlight dims to an ethereal twilight between the undulating sandstone walls of southern Utah slot canyons. This pair of gulches gives beginners a taste of canyoneering’s allure—with no ropes or technical chops required. Follow the 3.5-mile loop clockwise from the Dry Fork Road trailhead to tackle Peek-a-Boo Gulch, where you’ll scramble through red-orange rock keyholes narrowing to 2 feet wide. Then, link to the second half of the loop by hiking .5 mile east to squeeze into Spooky Gulch, a .3-mile long, 50-foot-deep, shaded crevice where the only way through is sideways. “Spooky is so narrow that at every turn, you can’t see the person who’s right in front of you,” Dawn Griffith says.

TRAILHEAD 37.477222, -111.216111*; 153 miles east of Cedar City off Hole in the Rock Rd. INFO (435) 644-1200; Website




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