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Multisport Skills

Ultimate Adventure Handbook: Explore a Slot Canyon

Explore wildly sculpted rock.

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Learning curve: You’ll need basic scrambling and navigation skills for nontechnical slots.

How

Simplify navigation challenges by hiking slots out-and-back. 

“Don’t go down what you can’t come back up,” says Aaron Johnson, owner/guide at Grand Staircase Adventure Guides in Escalante, Utah. 

“Avoid jumping off stuff,” Johnson adds. The tilted, rock-littered surfaces make landings risky. Instead, ease yourself down by “stemming” (pressing into opposite walls with your hands and feet). 

When crossing angled slabs, place the entire sole of your shoe on the rock (low-cut hikers, with good ankle flex, make this easier). In steep, narrow sections, make a “body bridge” (with your feet on one wall and your hands on the other).

Be careful around chockstones. “They got there by falling, and they might not be done falling,” says Johnson.

  • Check the forecast: Rain can produce flash floods a day after the storm. 
  • Identify bailout points on long routes.

Top spots

Utah: Spooky/Peekaboo Canyons offer a three-mile loop that gives a taste of all-fours travel and 12-inch-wide spaces. Like it? Hit nearby Little Death Hollow/Wolverine Canyons loop for a 17-mile weekend. Contact: ut.blm.gov/monument