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    State by state guide to slot canyons of the USA

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    Joel Fulleda

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    Slot canyons are one of the most spectacular and unusual natural attractions that can be found in the United States. This guide is designed to help you identify them and better organize your visit.


    • What does slot canyon mean?
    • Slot Canyon in Utah
    • Slot Canyon in Arizona
    • Slot Canyon in Nevada
      • Pastel (Pink) Canyon
      • White Domes Canyon
    • Slot Canyon in California
      • Mosaic Canyon
      • The Slot – Anza Borrego
    • Flash Flood and other dangers. How to avoid them?

    What does slot canyon mean?

    Slot canyons are defined as those narrow cracks created in the rock by the erosion of water and wind that over time have increasingly widened and carved out the space between the rock walls to create passages in which a person can (more or less easily) walk. In fact, they are distinguished from the Canyons due to their reduced distance between the two rock walls.

    The feature of being deeper than wide also allows you to create spectacular plays of lights and different colors depending on the time of day you visit them. Generally they form in desert areas where the power of flash floods (which we will discuss later) is particularly intense and causes even greater erosion.

    Due to their conformation, proper preparation and equipment is therefore required to explore most of these slot canyons. Here I have therefore decided to point out the most accessible and easily accessible to most people.

    Slot Canyon in Utah

    The state of Utah has the largest number of slot canyons in America. Here is a selection of the most important.

    • Spooky, Peekaboo e Dry Fork Narrow
    • Singing Canyon
    • Willis Creek Narrows
    • The Narrows Zion National Park
    • Kanarra Creek
    • Buckskin Gulch
    • Little Wild Horse Canyon
    • Robber’s Roost Canyon
    • Nine Mile Canyon

    Given the importance we have dedicated an entire study dedicated to slot canyons in Utah.

    Slot Canyon in Arizona

    Arizona is home to what is most likely the most famous slot canyon in the United States. We are talking about Antelope Canyon and its spectacular play of light. Here is the list of the most important:

    • Antelope Canyon (Upper e Lower)
    • Owl Canyon
    • Mountain Sheep Canyon
    • Rattlesnake Canyon
    • Waterholes Canyon e Secret Canyon
    • Arizona Hot Springs Canyon

    To see what all the others are, I invite you to read our article dedicated to slot canyons in Arizona.

    Slot Canyon in Nevada

    The two most important slot canyons in Nevada are located within the spectacular Valley of Fire all the gate of Las Vegas.

    Pastel (Pink) Canyon

    As you can guess from the name, the peculiar feature of this slot canyon are the colors. There is no official trail and the place is not even marked on the park's official map. The advantage of this is that as it is not very well known you will not find large crowds of visitors around you. The downside is that you will have to work a little harder to find the path.

    The best and most suggestive way to reach it is to combine one of the most spectacular locations in the park with your excursion. In fact, you will have to get to the famous observation point Fire Wave (following the trail of the same name), and then follow the course of the canyon that "flows" below to the west until you reach the road. Alternatively, you can try to park your car near these Google Maps coordinates (36.479761, -114.526415) and head east into the slot canyon.

    The best time of day to observe the most beautiful colors is early in the morning and at sunset.

    White Domes Canyon

    The path to reach this slot canyon is instead well known and easily identifiable. It is a loop of about 2 kilometers and is one of the most popular routes in the entire park. In fact, you will have to take the panoramic road White Domes Road at the end of which you will find a parking area. This is the starting point of the route which is very well signposted.

    Along the course of the path you can observe sandstone formations of various shapes and different colors. One of the peculiarities of this slot canyon is that along it you will come to meet the remains of an old film set dating back to 1966 and used to make some scenes of the western film The Professionals.

    Slot Canyon in California

    California is famous for the large and iconic cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, for the spectacular Pacific Coast Highway that runs alongside the ocean and for beautiful natural parks such as Yosemite and Death Valley.

    On the other hand, its geographic conformation is not particularly suitable for the formation of many slot canyons. Despite this, there are at least two that are worth visiting, if you are particularly fond of the views that can be observed there.

    Mosaic Canyon

    It is located inside the famous Death Valley park in the area of Stovepipe Wells, and it is one of the best things this area offers. You can find more details in our article dedicated to how to visit Death Valley.

    The Slot – Anza Borrego

    This slot canyon is located within theAnza Borrego Desert State Park in Southern California. Given the size of the park there are many canyons but one of the most spectacular and famous is the one known as The Slot. It has the added advantage of not being excessively long and frequented by tourists.

    The start of the route is approximately 24 miles southeast of Borrego Springs. Along the course of the CA-78 you will find a dirt road (not signposted) called Buttes Pass Road which goes inland and you will have to travel for just under three kilometers until you find a clearing to leave the car.

    Flash Flood and other dangers. How to avoid them?

    Before embarking on an excursion inside the slot canyons on your own, there are some recommendations to take into consideration to avoid unexpected events as much as possible during your journey.

    The most common danger is closely linked to the formation of the slot canyons itself, or the notorious ones Flash Flood or, to put it in our language, water bombs. They are particularly dangerous when they develop in dry and desert areas where the soil is not able to quickly absorb the amount of water that is discharged, forming the equivalent of a real river in flood that flows impetuously downstream. , also dragging with it a lot of debris.

    In the following video you can get an idea of ​​what has been said:

    The safest way to avoid getting trapped inside a slot canyon in this situation is to keep an eye on them tempo forecast, both in the days immediately preceding your visit, and for the day on which you will make the excursion, not only for the place you intend to visit but also for the surrounding area.

    In fact, a sunny day does not mean being completely safe because, if there has been a storm a few kilometers away, sooner or later the water wave will reach your area anyway (you can check this video). So keep an eye on the National Weather Service website or other local resources, perhaps indicated by the rangers or the various tourist centers.

    Still on the subject of weather, the other indication to keep in mind is to equip yourself properly to cope with high temperatures during the summer months, and to bring with you a supply of water sufficient for your needs during the whole walk. Most of the places where slot canyons are located are in fact far from civilization: in this case supermarkets and petrol stations.

    A final important recommendation is to pay attention to wild animals and (above all) to the snakes found in these desert areas. The latter, in particular, can be particularly insidious thanks to their ability to blend well with the surrounding environment, and to be found not only at ground level but also on the ledges along the course of the slot canyon. So keep your eyes peeled.

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