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How to Hike Dry Fork Narrows, Peek-a-boo, and Spooky Slot Canyons

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Last Updated on April 1, 2024 by Sarah Puckett

If you’re seeking a journey off the beaten path, a trek through Dry Fork Narrows, Spooky, and Peek-a-boo Gulch Slot Canyons promises an unforgettable hike through nature’s masterpiece.

Here, in the heart of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, you can find towering sandstone walls, sculpted by centuries of wind and water. The undulating curves of the narrow slot canyon walls make the Dry Fork Narrows, Spooky, and Peek-a-boo gulches a playground for hikers and photographers alike.

But how exactly do you hike the Dry Fork Narrows, Spooky, and Peek-a-boo slot canyons? This guide will tell you exactly that! From how to prepare, what to expect on your hike, and what to wear and pack, we’ve got everything you need to know, based on our own first-hand experience!

Follow the seven Leave No Trace principles: plan your hike in advance, stick to designated trails, carry out all your belongings, dispose of waste properly, leave natural areas untouched, minimize the impact of campfires, show consideration for fellow hikers, and avoid approaching or feeding wildlife.

Dry Fork Narrows, Peek-a-boo, and Spooky Slot Canyons At-A-Glance

  • Location: Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument (Escalante, Utah)
  • Distance: 6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 656 feet
  • Time: 3-4 hours
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Vehicle Requirements: 4WD recommended for dirt road
  • Toilet: Available in the parking lot
  • Water: None available at the trailhead – bring your own!
  • Pets: Technically allowed, but consider that your dog will need to manage tight spaces and steep climbs. Pets are generally not recommended for slot canyons!
  • AllTrails Link

About Dry Fork Narrows, Spooky, and Peek-a-boo Slot Canyons

We first visited Dry Fork Narrows, Spooky, and Peek-a-boo slot canyons in the winter of 2021, on our first-ever snow-bird sojourn in Utah. I’d seen photos on Instagram of the slot canyons’ curved walls, arches, and aesthetic angles, and set out to plan our hike to see them for ourselves!

I was, and still am, fascinated by how these canyons are formed. Soft sandstone dominates this landscape, and it’s so soft that, over thousands of years of flash and seasonal flooding, the water has carved out a path through the rock. This forms the slot canyons we see today and explains why the walls appear so wavy and smooth. The slot canyons have been carved by the flow of water!

There are three main canyons we’ll cover on this hike:

  • Dry Fork Narrows: This is a wide slot canyon with a sandy bottom, perfect for your first slot canyon so you can get a sense of the space and assess whether you’d be comfortable in tighter canyons!
  • Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon: One of the most photogenic slot canyons in Utah, Peek-a-boo is famous for its arches and curves.
  • Spooky Gulch: The narrowest of the three slot canyons on this route, Spooky gets down to a width of a mere 10 inches, barely wide enough for your feet!

Where are the Dry Fork Narrows, Peek-a-boo, and Spooky Slot Canyons?

The Dry Fork Narrows, Peek-a-boo, and Spooky slot canyons are deep in the wilderness of Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument. The Monument itself is huge – with over 1.8 million acres. The closest town, Escalante, is about an hour’s drive from the trailhead, 26 miles down Hole in the Rock Road, a bumpy, unpaved road.

Warnings About This Hike

Okay, we hate to sound alarmist, but the full hike through Dry Fork Narrows, Spooky, and Peek-a-boo Gluches is legitimately sketchy. We didn’t even succeed with the entire loop, instead doing only the portions of each canyon that we felt safe completing! We’ll explain more of the obstacles in detail below, but first, here are some important cautions you need to keep in mind when planning a hike here!

Class 3 Climbing

In Spooky and Peek-a-boo Gulches, you will need to rock scramble using both hands and feet to climb up and over various obstacles, like boulders and walls. This is considered Class 3 climbing, meaning it’s somewhat dangerous and shouldn’t be attempted by novice hikers!

There are two sections in particular that require climbing. One is at the entrance to Peek-a-boo canyon, where you must scale a 12-foot tall rock wall with minimal places to hold on. Tim successfully climbed into the canyon, but I actually got so afraid of falling that I didn’t make it into Peek-a-boo!

The other tricky spot is in Spooky Canyon, where you must drop 8 feet over a boulder to continue through the canyon. Again, I didn’t feel safe making the jump (queue the flashbacks of when I broke my ankle in 2019), so we turned around at this point.

Zero Cell Phone Service

There is no cell phone service in this remote section of Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument. Moreover, it’s an hour or more driving down the rugged dirt Hole-in-the-Rock road to get back to the nearest town of Escalante.

If you need emergency help out here, it will be both difficult to call to ask for it, as well as slow for help to arrive.

We recommend hiking with a satellite communication device like a Garmin InReach to easily send an SOS and call for help in an emergency!


At their narrowest, Spooky and Peek-a-boo slot canyons are barely 10 inches wide. This is barely wide enough for your foot. If you are afraid of small spaces, you should avoid hiking in a slot canyon.

Flash Flooding

Flash flooding is a serious risk when hiking in slot canyons. Because of the fast and unexpected nature of a flash flood, you won’t have much time, if any, to climb out of the canyon to safety.

While floods can happen all year long, the summer months of July, August, and September are the highest risk due to more frequent thunderstorms.

For this reason, you must check the weather forecast before hiking into a slot canyon! If there is even a small chance of rain anywhere in the area, do not hike.

When in doubt, call the Escalante Interagency Visitor Center at (435) 826-5499 to confirm it’s safe to hike Spooky and Peek-a-boo slot canyons that day.

Prepare for Hole-in-the-Rock Road

Hole-in-the-Rock Road is an unpaved, rugged route that can be rough and challenging, and even impassable after rainy weather. High-clearance vehicles are recommended due to uneven terrain and potential washouts, but in dry conditions many lower-clearance non-4WD vehicles make it to the trailhead just fine. Check conditions here.

Hike With a Friend

This is a good idea on any hike, and especially the hike to Dry Fork Narrows, Spooky, and Peek-a-boo Gulches. Because this trail has a few Class 3 scrambles, it is a good idea to have a friend with you so you can assist each other with the climbs but also call for help if one of you gets hurt.

You and your friend should also let someone who isn’t joining you know about your plans and when you expect to return.

Not Recommended for Dogs

While dogs are technically allowed, the narrow canyons’ steep climbs and scrambles make it a really difficult hike for a dog. We recommend dogs skip this one.

Getting to the Dry Fork Narrows, Peek-a-boo, and Spooky Slot Canyons Trailhead

To get to the trailhead from the town of Escalante, you will drive 26 miles on washboard Hole-in-the-Rock Road.

There are actually two different trailheads, and they are both located on BLM 252.

The Lower Dry Fork Trailhead has toilets, and results in a shorter hike.

The Upper Dry Fork Trailhead is further up the road on BLM 252, and results in a hike 1.5 miles longer.

We parked at the Lower Dry Fork Trailhead, so that is what this post will focus on!

Trail Guide: Dry Fork Narrows, Peek-a-boo, and Spooky Slot Canyons

Getting to the Canyons

After you park and sign in on the trail register, you’ll start your hike first on a sandy trail, and soon onto some slick rock. Descend the slick rock following the cairns (trail markers).

You’ll come to a sandy ravine (the Dry Fork Wash) and this is where the real fun begins! Before you (though not all in sight), from left to right, are the entrances to Dry Fork Narrows, Peek-a-Boo, and, 0.6 miles away, Spooky slot canyons.

Hike Dry Fork Narrows before or after Peek-a-boo and Spooky. We hiked the Dry Fork Narrows first, since this was our first slot canyon hike and we wanted to test our comfort level in an easier and wider slot canyon!

Tip: Hike Peek-a-boo before Spooky. Hiking the canyons clockwise to ensures a one-way flow of traffic. Since the canyons are narrow, there simply is no room for people to pass each other going in opposite directions.

Dry Fork Narrows

We started our hike in the Dry Fork Narrows, which is beautiful and very photogenic, despite being the least “famous” of the three canyons in the area. In fact, most people skip Dry Fork Narrows altogether.

We say do it, though. It’s short, you’re already by the entrance, and it’s a great way to test whether you’d be too claustrophobic for Peek-a-boo and Spooky.

Peek-A-Boo Slot Canyon

Peek-a-boo presents a challenge right away, with a steep 12-foot climb up a rock wall to even enter the slot canyon.

Once inside, you’ll see arches, narrow twists, and small climbs as you hike through the canyon. It gets narrower as you continue to hike, and you’ll find that you need to contort your body to the side or in other odd ways to sneak through!

When you come to the end of the slot canyon, you’ll exit into an open area. Follow the trail about 0.3 miles to the entrance of Spooky.

Spooky Gulch

Spooky is a fun canyon famous for how dramatically it narrows, to just 10 inches!

As previously described, the biggest obstacle in Spooky Canyon is the 8-foot drop over the boulder. We’ve read that there is occasionally a rope installed here to assist with the descent, however, we did not see one on our visit.

When you exit Spooky Gulch, you will hike right back past the entrance to Peek-a-boo and then Dry Fork Narrows before climbing back up the slick rock the way you came to return to the parking lot.

Brimstone Gulch

For a very big adventure (and extra mileage than what is included in our route here), you can hike to a fourth slot canyon in this area, called Brimstone Gulch. We have not hiked here, and have heard it’s the most “extreme” of the canyons in this area.

I did see pictures of a rattlesnake den on Google Maps for Brimstone Gulch, though, so watch out!

What to Bring and Wear

  • Water, and several liters of it. The BLM recommends 4 liters. A water reservoir can make this easier to carry.
  • Hiking Shoes with good traction, like these Columbia boots.
  • Layers, like a light jacket or thermal layer, since it can be chilly in the slot canyons where no sun reaches.
  • Downloaded Map (Available Offline). We use AllTrails.
  • Sunscreen and a hat for the long exposed portions of the hike before, after, and between slot canyons.
  • Very thin day bag. Most normal-sized hiking backpacks are too bulky to fit through the narrow slot canyons, so bring as light a pack as possible.

When to Go

You can hike the Dry Fork Narrows, Peek-a-boo, and Spooky slot canyons year-round, but we’d recommend avoiding summer. Not only is it absurdly hot for hiking, it’s also the rainy season, with a higher likelihood of flash floods.

Fall, winter, and spring are the ideal times to hike in Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument. We went in winter, and it was a perfect temperature for hiking. If you go in winter, however, pay attention to the snow forecast, as this can change your plans, especially when it comes to driving the dirt Hole-in-the-Rock road!

Where to Stay Near Dry Fork Narrows, Peek-a-boo, and Spooky Slot Canyons

We recommend staying in the town of Escalante when planning to hike Dry Fork Narrows, Peek-a-boo, and Spooky slot canyons.

We’ve stayed in two different accommodations on our trips to Escalante. Both were great, and very different from one another.

Here are some additional recommendations we’d love to stay at on future trips and that you may want to consider for your trip!

You can search for even more hotels and guesthouses using the map below.

What to Do Nearby

  • Backpack to Reflection Canyon, our absolute favorite view in the area.
  • Explore Devils Garden, which you’ll pass on Hole-in-the-Rock road on your drive back towards Escalante from Dry Fork Narrows, Peek-a-boo, and Spooky slot canyons!
  • Visit Escalante State Park to see impressive petrified forests!
  • Drive the Burr Road to Capitol Reef National Park.
  • Hike Lower Calf Creek Falls, one of the prettiest waterfalls in the southwest.

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