If you are visiting Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, you cannot miss the hike through Peekaboo and Spooky slot canyons! This one-of-a-kind experience will take you through two incredible slot canyons as part of an epic 4.2 mile hike. With some minor rock scrambling, a remote location on the iconic Hole-in-the-Rock road, and extremely narrow passages – sometimes down to 10 inches – this hike is perfect for those seeking a bit of an adventure! In this article, we’ll lay out exactly what to expect in both Peekaboo and Spooky slot canyons to help you decide if this hike is for you!

Hi there! We’re Sarah and Matt, two nomads road tripping across the United States with our cat, Fitzgerald, making a new place our home month to month while working full time and adventuring as much as possible. We spend any free time we can get hiking, camping, backpacking, and exploring new places! We hope that our experiences will help you plan for your next adventure and inspire you to be an outlier!

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Overview | Peekaboo and Spooky Slot Canyons

Peekaboo and Spooky Slot Canyons are located in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, about 26 miles down Hole in the Rock Road and a one-hour drive from Escalante, Utah. With Peekaboo and Spooky Slot Canyons, you get to explore two beautiful slot canyons on one 4.2 mile loop hike!

While the hike is relatively short with minimal elevation gain, the rock scrambling and tight squeezes required to navigate the canyon certainly make for a challenging adventure! The unique striped walls and beautiful colors of Peekaboo and Spooky slot canyons make the hike 100% worth the effort.

Be respectful to this beautiful place!

Peekaboo and Spooky Slot Canyons and the surrounding area are remote and rugged. Please help keep it that way! Always stay on the trail, do not carve or vandalize the rock and take all trash with you.

Remember to Leave No Trace. Pack out what you pack in, stay on trail, be well-prepared, leave nothing behind, take only photos and memories with you, treat the area with respect and help preserve this beautiful spot for generations to come.

About Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument

The trailhead for Peekaboo and Spooky slot canyons is located in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. Encompassing over 1 million acres in Southern Utah, Grand Staircase Escalante is one of the largest areas of protected land in the United States. It was actually the last area to be cartographed in the U.S. and it still has that rugged, adventurous spirit that characterizes the American West.

You won’t find long entry lines or throngs of tourists. Instead, you may come across unsuspecting cows, who are only slightly more timid than they are curious, and large tracts of land filled with some of the most unique and diverse geological formations in the country.

Grand Staircase Escalante is a paradise for hikers, campers, backpackers and those who love a little solitude. There is no shortage of space, great campsites, adventure opportunities and jaw-dropping sights in this massive stretch of land.

Hike Details | Peekaboo and Spooky Slot Canyons

Hike Stats

Hiking distance | 4.2 miles (+1 mile including Dry Fork Narrows)
Elevation gain | About 615 feet
Total time | 3 – 4 hours
Epic-ness rating | 8
Difficulty | Hard (requires a few challenging scrambles)

Find this hike on Dry Fork Narrows, Peekaboo and Spooky Slot Canyons
(Note: The Alltrails map includes Dry Fork Narrows, which is an optional addition to the hike).

Highlights

  • Explore two of Utah’s most beautiful slot canyons in one hike!
  • Remote location means the hike isn’t too crowded (though don’t expect to have it to yourself).
  • Several “obstacles” through the hike make for a fun challenge!

Lowlights

  • Steep climb into Peekaboo Slot Canyon can be intimidating and dangerous
  • Spooky Slot Canyon gets very narrow in places and involves a steep drop caused by a rockfall that you have to climb up or down.

How difficult is the hike to Peekaboo and Spooky Slot Canyons?

The hike to Peekaboo and Spooky Slot Canyons is only 4.2 miles with 615 feet of elevation gain, but it definitely packs a punch. The hike from the trailhead down into the wash where you enter and exit the canyons is a steep descent on the way in and a steep ascent on the way out, making it a bit more difficult.

The canyons themselves pose their own challenges. Just entering Peekaboo Slot Canyon requires a scramble up about a 15 foot wall. Additionally, the canyons get very narrow in places and you will need to shuffle sideways to squeeze through.

In addition, there is a legit rock scramble over some fallen boulders towards the end of Spooky slot canyon. This will require the use of a rope and good balance to safely traverse.

Hike modifications

There are a few ways you can make your hike shorter or longer:

  • Peekaboo & Spooky Slot Canyons from overflow parking | 5.2 miles, 615 feet
  • Peekaboo, Spooky & Dry Fork Narrows | 5 miles, 615 feet
  • Peekaboo, Spooky & Dry Fork Narrows from overflow parking | 6 miles, 615 feet
  • Out and back to Peekaboo Slot Canyon | 3.5 miles, 600 feet (this is a good idea if you are extremely claustrophobic)
  • Out and back to Spooky Slot Canyon | 4 miles, 600 feet

Parking and getting to the trailhead

The trailhead for Peekaboo and Spooky Slot Canyons is located off Hole in the Rock Road, which is also home to many of the best hikes in Grand Staircase Escalante. Once you turn onto Hole in the Rock Road from Highway 12, reset your odometer and proceed for 26 miles before turning left at the sign for Dry Fork trailhead.

The trailhead is located about 1.2 miles down this side road. The road is in worse condition than Hole in the Rock, with lots of larger rocks. The parking lot is fairly small and can fill up since this is a popular hike.

If you aren’t able to get a spot at the main parking lot or want to minimize how far you drive on the rough side road, there is also an overflow parking area about half a mile from Hole in the Rock. From here you’d have to hike the remaining 0.5 miles to the trailhead, adding 1-mile roundtrip.

Which direction should I hike?

There are a handful of route options for this hike. We recommend hiking the slot canyons as a loop, starting with Peekaboo and descending through Spooky. This is the generally accepted order to do the hikes, and remember, the canyons are very narrow so two-way traffic is difficult in many places.

You could also do either canyon individually as an out-and-back if you are pressed for time. Before you reach either Peekaboo or Spooky Slot Canyons, you will pass the entrance to Dry Fork Narrows to your left. Most people skip over Dry Fork, as it is not super narrow or scenic.

Squeezing through a narrow section of Spooky Slot Canyon

Getting started

From the parking lot, the initial .8 miles are relatively flat as you hike along a plateau that overlooks Dry Fork Wash, where you will eventually enter the slot canyons. This section of the trail mainly involves hiking through sand and some occasional slick rock. You can see fellow hikers at the bottom of the wash to your right.

Descending into Dry Fork Wash

While not the most exciting part of this hike, the views of the vast, orange desert from the plateau are pretty sweet. Soon, you will begin your descent into the wash which involves a fairly steep, but short, trek.

Once you pass Dry Fork Narrows to your left, continue down the wash to the right before reaching the entrance to Peekaboo Slot Canyon.

Climbing into Peekaboo Slot Canyon

The hardest part of the Peekaboo and Spooky slot canyons hike is right at the beginning. To enter Peekaboo canyon, you will need to scale a roughly 15-foot rock wall. There are a few hand and footholds carved into the rock, but they won’t be very helpful for those with shorter limbs.

There may be some traffic at the entrance to the canyon as it takes time to climb up the wall. Be patient, take your time, and, once you make it up the wall and into the canyon, lend a hand to fellow hikers as they try to enter the canyon behind you.

Peekaboo Slot Canyon

Once you enter the canyon, you will immediately see a number of arches spanning across the top of the canyon walls and it will become clear why the hike is so popular! As you make your way up the canyon, there are a number of obstacles that you’ll work your way around. There is a fair amount of scrambling over, under, and around different rock formations.

Naturally, the canyon gets very narrow and there are places where you will need to turn sideways to pass through. The entire canyon is about half a mile, but expect for it to take about 30 minutes to traverse.

Arches inside Peekaboo Slot Canyon in Grand Staircase

Getting to Spooky Slot Canyon

When you reach the end of Peekaboo slot canyon, you will slowly emerge and eventually find yourself back in the open air. Take a quick break before heading towards Spooky Slot Canyon.

We read reports of people getting lost between Peekaboo and Spooky Slot Canyons but didn’t have too much trouble ourselves. Maybe there were more cairns than were previously in place. Either way, the trail does lead over sand and rock so be careful to follow the rock cairns, or make sure you have the trail map downloaded on AllTrails.

After about half a mile, you will reach the entrance to Spooky Slot Canyon.

Spooky Slot Canyon

Somehow, Spooky Slot Canyon is narrower than Peekaboo and, in our opinion, more scenic. It gets down to about 10 inches in width, so you will need to take your backpack off and shimmy through sideways in some places. If you are claustrophobic, this is not the place for you!

Rock scrambling in Spooky Slot Canyon

About three-quarters of the way through Spooky slot canyon, there is a drop of about ten feet due to a large rock fall.

Sometimes there is a rope attached to the canyon wall that you can use to lower yourself down the drop-off. However, the rope is not reliably available – we’ve done this hike both with and without a rope attached.

When you reach this part of the canyon, take your time and make sure you have good balance and footing as you climb down the wall. Those with shorter limbs may need some assistance. See the photo of me (Sarah) sitting at the top of the rockfall below for reference.

Sarah contemplates how to climb down the rockfall in Spooky (please excuse the poor image quality, photo for reference!)
Squeezing through the narrow Spooky Slot Canyon in Grand Staircase Escalante
Squeezing through the narrow Spooky Slot Canyon

The return hike

Once you exit Spooky Slot Canyon, follow the wash until you come upon the entrance to Peekaboo on your right. Then retrace your steps back up the steep hill to reach the top of the plateau and return to the trailhead.

Dry Fork Narrows

Dry Fork Narrows is another slot canyon close to Peekaboo and Spooky that tends to get significantly fewer crowds but is less narrow and visually stunning. That being said, Dry Fork Narrows is easier to navigate through and makes an easy 0.8-mile addition to the Peekaboo and Spooky Slot Canyons hike. Plus, the climb back up the ridge towards the trailhead is milder coming out of Dry Fork than the steep route directly down to Peekaboo.

Dry Fork Narrows

Planning your hike to Peekaboo and Spooky Slot Canyons

We’ll tell you all the details you need to know to plan your hike to Peekaboo and Spooky Slot Canyons in the following section.

When to hike

Spring and fall are the best times to hike in Grand Staircase Escalante. Summertime temperatures in the desert can be scorching and winter temperatures regularly dip below freezing.

You may be able to find some temperate days in the winter but we wouldn’t plan on consistently comfortable temperatures. If you are visiting in the summer, make sure to bring plenty of water and plan to hike either in the early morning or later in the afternoon to avoid the intense sun.

Where to stay

You can either stay in the small town of Escalante or dispersed camp in Grand Staircase. We strongly recommend dispersed camping, as there are tons of amazing spots throughout the area.

Dispersed camping in Grand Staircase

The dispersed camping options in Grand Staircase are the best! There are tons of spots to pull off and camp along Hole-in -the-Rock road. Even better, the sites are top notch – relatively easy to access, plenty of space, nice views and some even come equipped with fire rings (although you may share your space with some neighbors of the bovine variety…).

Escalante

Escalante, Utah is the located just 10 minutes from the start of Hole in the Rock Road and the closest town to the trailhead. It is relatively small town, but you will find a number of options to spend the night, as well as some restaurants and grocery stores.

Peekaboo and Spooky Slot Canyons Packing List

Before embarking on your hike to Peekaboo and Spooky slot canyons, make sure you are well prepared with the following essentials:

  • Plenty of water | To reiterate – this hike is in the desert and it can get really hot. There are no water sources along the trail so bring plenty of water (at least 2 liters per person)
  • Sunscreen | A significant majority of the hike is very exposed, and the desert sun is strong no matter the time of year
  • Sunglasses | We both love our Goodr sunglasses for hiking! They are cheap ($25) and non-slip, making them perfect for a day out on the trails.
  • Hiking boots | Climbing into Peekaboo Canyon is no joke! The rock is slick, so boots with good traction are essential to get into the canyon safely.
  • GPS device | You won’t have service anywhere on Hole in the Rock road, so it’s a good idea to carry a GPS device that allows you to contact someone for help in case of an emergency.

P.S. Looking for a complete list of what to pack for a day hike to Peekaboo & Spooky Slot Canyons? We’ve compiled our complete list of essentials here:

Other tips for a great hike

  • The trail between the two slot canyons can be difficult to follow. We recommend downloading the trail map on AllTrails Pro or another GPS device before you set out on the hike.
  • The Peekaboo and Spooky slot canyons get very narrow so try to pack as lightly as possible. You will need to take your backpack off to squeeze through the canyons so we recommend keeping your pack small.
  • We ran into a few people with dogs on the hike, and although they are technically allowed, we would not recommend bringing your four-legged friends. Navigating the canyons would be challenging with a dog due to the rock scrambling, narrow passes, and especially the big drop in Spooky Canyon.
  • Be sure to check the weather before starting off on your hike. Slot canyons in Grand Staircase Escalante are prone to flash floods, which can be extremely dangerous and life threatening. Do not attempt this hike if it is raining, or the weather forecast calls for rain!
  • There is a newly installed sign at the start of the hike showing just how narrow Spooky Slot canyon gets – it may be worth checking out before attempting the hike to decide whether you feel comfortable continuing.

Other hikes nearby

Planning a trip to Grand Staircase Escalante? You may also be interested in the following resources on great hikes in the area:

For all things Utah: Utah Travel Guide

Interested in hiking Peekaboo and Spooky slot canyons? Questions or comments about this hike? Let us know below!

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