Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Peek-A-Boo and Spooky Slot Canyons in Dry Fork Gulch, Utah

       “This is a blast—the most fun I’ve have in ages!”  Mark’s words echo through the twists and turns of Peek-A-Boo slot canyon in Utah’s Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.

My husband Tim and his friend Mark are in the middle of a 250 mile bicycle ride through southern Utah.  I’m driving the support vehicle.  (More about the bike ride in future blog posts...)  

An early start in Boulder allows the bikers to arrive in Escalante by late morning.  I pick them up in our SUV and soon we’re bouncing over Hole-In-The-Rock road’s washboarded dirt surface.  It’s a sweltering August afternoon when we reach the trailhead where we discover vehicles from Washington, Colorado, Kentucky, Nevada and New York.
Descending from the trailhead to Dry Fork canyon we pick our way across slickrock and sand.  Peek-A-Boo’s entrance is a quarter mile along the wash, 12 feet above our heads.  Using hand and foot holds to scale the wall we enter the hanging canyon and are transformed into kids on a playground. 

Mark and Tim descend into Dry Fork wash.

Tim steadies himself for the climb into Peek-A-Boo
while Mark waits to lend a hand.
          With flexibility we thought lost with age, we drop through an arch passageway, climb hands-and-feet over protruding rock walls and slither through sinuous turns until we leave the slot and emerge in a wide, sandy wash.  Then we turn around and do it all over again.

Tim emerges from the donut hole near the
entrance to Peek-A-Boo slot.

Rita and Tim playing peek-a-boo.
See how this slot got its name?

Tim snakes his way through the canyon.

There are rattlers in here!  We saw a dead snake but no
live ones during our hike.

            A half mile away the entrance to Spooky slot canyon calls our names.  Mark enters the canyon and walks through passages so narrow he has to inhale to navigate them.  Three-quarters of the way through the canyon a fallen boulder prevents him from completing the trek.  But Mark is still beaming when he exits the canyon.  The most fun we’ve had in ages?  We’d all have to agree.

Mark in the dark, narrow confines of Spooky.


Leaving the National Monument we return to the town of Escalante and check into The Slot Canyons Inn.  After showering the red dirt from our sweat-soaked bodies we meet at the Inn’s outdoor restaurant—North Creek Grill.  Local, grass-fed beef is the signature dish and it’s melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
Dessert arrives as sunset bakes the surrounding rocks with an orange glow.  From the adventures of biking and hiking to the luxuries of The Slot Canyons Inn, it’s been a most gratifying day.

The Slot Canyons Inn, Escalante Utah.

Al Fresco dining at the North Creek Grill.


How did Peek-A-Boo and Spooky receive their unusual appellations?  Josette-Marie Rex, proprietress of The Slot Canyons Inn, relayed the story:  Josette-Marie recently attended a town potluck dinner where she met two women whose father—a sheep rancher—discovered the slot canyons while tending his flock over 60 years ago.  The rancher took his little girls to the two canyons to play; in the dark, narrow passageway they proclaimed “Oooh, this one’s spooky!”  And in the other corridor they played peek-a-boo behind the serpentine corners, shouting “Peek-a-boo, I see you!”  The women are now in their 70’s and the names they gave the canyons many years ago are perfect depictions of these two spine-tingling playgrounds.  

Want to experience the fun of Spooky and Peek-A-Boo?  Visit this site:   http://www.utah.com/escalante/boulder_mountain.htm

Pamper yourself after hiking the slot canyons and enjoy the hospitality of Josette-Marie by staying at The Slot Canyons Inn.


  1. Amazing photos, Rita. This trip looks like a blast - glad you had so much fun exploring the winding canyons. How great that two little girls gave them their memorable names, too!

    Slot Canyons Inn looks mighty cozy, as well. This adventure is definitely going on my travel list!

  2. Hi Vickie.

    I first visited these two slot canyons 12 years ago and I've been wondering ever since how they got their names. How appropriate, then, to have stayed at The Slot Canyons Inn a dozen years later, and to have had my question answered by the Inn's owner!

    I highly recommend a visit to all three Slot Canyons (Peek-A-Boo, Spooky AND the Inn.)

  3. Wow! There is simply NOTHING here in New England that comes even remotely compares to Peek-A-Boo and Spooky Slot Canyons! From my perspective, it's almost akin to being on a different planet. Hmmm! I wonder if there are similar formations on Mars?! The color of the soil seems to be about the same! :-)

    An overnight stay at the Slots Canyon Inn would be delightful! I love the outdoors, but at the end of the day, I love having my "creature-comforts", and this Inn looks like it would amply satisfy my needs!

    Great posting!

  4. Hi John,

    When Tim and I moved from PA to Utah and started visiting the desert, we commented many times on the fact that it was "as though we were visiting another planet". So I can understand your comparison with Mars!

    Yes, I can assure you the Slot Canyons Inn will provide any creature comforts you may need at the end of a long day of desert hiking.

    Thanks for commenting!

  5. Love it! We did those 2 slot canyons via my Uncle's recommendations when we were out there. Great beginner canyons for the weary of small spaces and the thought of flash flooding!! Cool stuff! Love this blog!!!

    Hiking Lady

  6. It sounds like your uncle steered you to all the right places! These slots (not the Las Vegas kind) are great fun for the entire family.

    So glad you're enjoying the blog. Thanks for your kind words, Hiking Lady!