|Other slot canyon locations in the Southwest.
The hardest-to-reach group of Utah slot canyons are found along the Dirty Devil River, north of Lake Powell, mostly on the east side where access is more difficult. Main locations are Happy Canyon, Larry Canyon, Sams Mesa Canyon and various forks of Robbers Roost Canyon. North of here is another group including Blue John Canyon, also with several branches, and Moonshine Wash, while to the west, Moab has some narrow canyons though the rocks hereabouts are not generally conducive to slot formation. Professor Creek is one nice drainage in this region.
Blue John Canyon, Utah★★★★★
8 miles, 600 feet
Deep, branched slots in a remote but scenic region near the Green River and Canyonlands NP. Some parts require rappelling and/or difficult downclimbing, to pass dryfalls of up to 70 feet, but most can be seen by hiking and scrambling
Buckwater Draw, Dinosaur NM, Colorado★★★★★
3 miles, 800 feet
Dryfalls and short slots through attractive, light-colored sandstone, in two forks of a minor drainage close to Dinosaur National Monument
Holeman Slot, Canyonlands NP, Utah★★★★★
5.5 miles, 1600 feet
Short narrows in Canyonlands National Park; a tributary of the Green River that forms 600 feet of pretty, light-colored, medium depth passageways, above an unclimbable dryfall and a wider lower gorge
Lovell Wash, Lake Mead NRA, Nevada★★★★★
3 miles, 200 feet
Seasonal wash forming a short, twisting slot canyon through inclined, thin-layered limestone in the Gale Hills, on the north side of Lake Mead
Moonshine Wash, Utah★★★★★
7 miles, 300 feet
Beautiful, extensive narrows through colorful, thin-layered, nicely eroded sandstone, in a remote area of the San Rafael Desert
Palm Wash, Anza Borrego Desert SP, California★★★★★
1.3 miles, 100 feet
The middle and south forks of Palm Wash are two shallow slot canyons through grey-brown conglomerate rocks surrounded by desert badlands, towards the low elevation east side of Anza Borrego Desert State Park
Professor Creek, Utah★★★★★
4 miles, 600 feet
Permanent stream flowing along a shallow but pretty canyon, narrow for nearly 2 miles, through colorful reddish rocks. The walls have interesting textures and colors, different to most true slot canyons as the sandstone is darker, harder and less striated
The Slot, Anza Borrego Desert SP, California★★★★★
0.5 miles, 50 feet
The Slot is a minor drainage in the Borrego Mountains, reached by a dirt track, and notable for about half a mile of quite pretty narrow passages through grey-brown conglomerate rocks
True slot canyons are restricted to the Colorado Plateau and even here only in certain types of rock (mostly the Navajo, Wingate and Cedar Mesa strata) but narrow ravines are still found elsewhere throughout the Southwest. In central Arizona, below the Mogollon Rim that marks the southern edge of the plateau, the many streams and creeks that flow down from the high country often erode sheer sided canyons, not continuosly narrow but with enclosed sections, often flooded, containing chokestones, waterfalls and the added attraction of large cacti, including saguaro in many of the lower elevation drainages. The amount of water and hence ease of exploration varies a lot throughout the year, though often access is always difficult owing to the remoteness and roughness of the surrounding terrain, so some are never very easy to follow. There are several well known canyons in and around Sedona, including West Clear Creek and Wet Beaver Creek, but most of the best are further south - Tonto Creek and tributaries, Aravaipa Canyon, Salome Creek, Cibecue Creek, the Salt River and countless others.
The California and Colorado mountains have similar gorges, with waterfalls and V-shaped channels but no true slot canyons. The California deserts do have some though. One type are found in low elevation canyons which experience flash floods, where narrow channels can be formed - the most well known are in Death Valley which has a variety of narrow twisting ravines with unusual strata but many less well known valleys have other examples. Another type is found in conglomerate rocks such as in Anza Borrego Desert State Park, which have erosional properties similar to sandstone and also form quite narrow slots, though they tend to be quite short.
Further afield, another interesting location is in and around Big Bend National Park in Texas, where the Rio Grande River flows through a series of deep gorges, with narrow side canyons.
More Narrow Canyons
- Bill Williams River Canyon, Arizona - little known river with an enclosed upper section
- Boquillas Canyon, Texas - deep, rocky section of the Rio Grande river
- Closed Canyon, Texas - a scenic narrow ravine along the Rio Grande
- Fish Creek, Arizona - rocky canyon in the Superstition Mountains
- Kaiser Spring Canyon, Arizona - narrows and a warm spring, in west central Arizona
- Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, New Mexico - volcanic formations and a shady slot canyon
- Mosaic Canyon, California - narrow gorge in Death Valley, with marble-like rocks
- Santa Elena Canyon, Texas - where cliffs soar 1,200 feet above the Rio Grande
- Tonto Creek - a beautiful desert stream in Arizona
- West Clear Creek - deep canyon at the edge of the Mogollon Rim