Grand Canyon


Slot Canyons > Grand Canyon
Slot canyons within Grand Canyon National Park, or adjacent lands of the Hualapai Reservation.

Cathedral Wash
Cathedral Wash
★★★★★
1.5 miles, 300 feet
Short, curving tributary of Marble Canyon, 4 miles south of Lees Ferry. Photogenic narrow passageways through potmarked, multilayered rocks
Hindu Canyon
Hindu Canyon
★★★★
6 miles, 1200 feet
A wide, shallow, grassy drainage that eventually forms a short slot, through thin-layered, light-colored rocks stained black in places - an unusual and scenic narrows section
Jackass Creek
Jackass Creek
★★★★
2.4 miles, 800 feet
East-side Colorado tributary with two main forks, both quite narrow in places and containing shallow pools after rains. The lower gorge deepens considerably, becoming partly overgrown and filled with large boulders
Milkweed Canyon
Milkweed Canyon
★★★★
8.5 miles, 1000 feet
Several short sections of limestone narrows, containing flooded potholes, and later a permanent stream with rather deeper pools. Part of a long, remote Grand Canyon tributary, which is relatively wide for most of its length
Tanner Wash
Tanner Wash
★★★★★
4.4 miles, 700 feet
Long canyon, at first enclosed but relatively shallow, deepening via unusual staircase-like passages through thin-layered sandstone, followed by a 50 foot dryfall and a much wider lower gorge
Most of the hundreds of tributaries that form the side branches of the Grand Canyon are not particularly narrow, rather they are stepped in cross section because of the many strata of differing hardness which cause the upper walls to erode sideways as the canyon deepens. The larger side canyons are very impressive, offering many multi-day hiking routes through remote scenic areas well away from the South Rim crowds, and often there are narrowish sections with typical slot-like features of pools, chokestones, waterfalls and deep water-carved channels, as is the case with Milkweed Canyon. But the best slots are close to the Colorado River in the depths of the main gorge and so not easily accessible by overland hiking; places such as Elves Chasm, Olo Canyon, Travertine Canyon and Matkatamiba Canyon need either access by boat, or overnight hikes and most likely some rappelling.

In the far north of the park, downstream of Lees Ferry, the Colorado flows through Marble Gorge, deepening steadily but still on a rather smaller scale than the more well known areas further south. Here the side canyons too are narrower and more intimate and there are several that offer a route to the river. Cathedral Wash is the easiest hike - others may require swimming of pools or climbing down dryfalls. Possibilities include Badger Canyon, Hot Na Na Wash, North Canyon, Rider Canyon, Salt Water Wash, Soap Creek, South Canyon and Tanner Wash. The eastern tributaries on Navajo land are easily reached from US 89 or short side tracks while some of the western canyons are further from the road and involve longer trips on rougher tracks.

In the main part of the Grand Canyon, only a few slots are reachable by road. They include Parashant Canyon in the far northwest, though a long and difficult day hike is needed to get there, and the limestone narrows while quite pretty, are relatively short. Much further east, parts of Kanab Creek and the very lower end of Deer Creek also have nice slots but again an arduous trek is needed to reach them. On the South Rim, the most accessible area is in the Hualapai Reservation, where interesting canyons include Milkweed and Hindu.

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