Posts Tagged ‘Utah Slot Canyons’

Irish Slot Canyons

Friday, October 11th, 2013
Blarney Slot Canyon utah

Blarney Slot Canyon is one of the easiest slot canyons to access in Utah. Right off of Highway 95 south of Hanksville.

There’s a little bit of the BLARNEY in all of us, and so it’s time to the turn the tables and get  yourself into Utah’s BLARNEY Slot Canyon.  While you’re at it try Leprechaun and Shillelagh.  These three slot canyons are found side-by-side south of Hanksville, Utah, near the fork in the road for State Road 95 and State Road 276.

Leprechaun Slot Canyon

Entrance to the Leprechaun Slot Canyon

To get there, go south from Hanksville, for approximately 33 miles, on State Road 95. Follow SR 95 left (southeast) at the fork and look on your left. The entrance to all three canyons is on the north side of the road.

Utah Slot Canyon

Admiring the narrow vertical walls within Leprechaun Slot Canyon

An inexperienced hiker can walk up any of these canyons for quite a distance, but you’ll want to have some experience and the proper gear if you are going to hike to the back of these canyons and then rappel and/or scramble down.

Early morning and late evenings may not offer much reflected light inside the deeper recesses of a slot canyon, and will therefore be more difficult to photograph during these times.  Unlike most photo opportunities, slot canyons might be best photographed when their is enough sunlight shining overhead. Each of these Utah slot canyons is unique and offers some very enjoyable experiences and opportunities for excellent photographs.

Utah Slot Canyon

Another view in the lower section of Leprechaun Slot Canyon.

As always, never enter a slot canyon during rain weather.  These canyons can get hot during the summer months, and may have plenty of water pockets with recent rains or snow.   In winter months you’ll want to be prepared for cold conditions.  Always explore with at least one other person and take plenty of water and other needed sustenance to ensure you have an enjoyable experience.

Shillelagh Slot Canyon

A view in Shillelagh Slot Canyon as it begins to narrow.

For more information, check out these pages which provide excellent details, maps and photos for each canyon.

Blarney Slot Canyon

Leprechaun Slot Canyon

Shillelagh Slot Canyon

Slot Canyon Adventures – Capitol Reef Region

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Technical Canyoneering in Leprechaun Canyon

Leprechaun Slot Canyon

Utah's Leprechaun Slot Canyon south of Hanksville

The Leprechaun Trail is located 26 miles south of Hanksville, just off Highway 95. This slot canyon is technically challenging and incredibly beautiful, especially when sunlight peaks in and seems to light the red rock walls aglow. The walls may be narrow, but the spirit of adventure Leprechaun Canyon will inspire is of epic proportions, as you are constantly amazed and surprised at every narrow, dramatic, twisting turn.

Fun and physically demanding, the moderate to difficult trail takes a good amount of time to navigate, so plan a full day to explore the narrow spaces. Some challenging sections of Leprechaun Canyon require climbing or rappelling skills but several route options allow for hikers of varying skill levels— just during certain times of year you may need to be prepared to wade through water at some point.   The Main Fork leads to a narrow slot known as Belfast Boulevard that requires a sideways shuffle to the top of the chokestones. The most challenging route features an impassable V-slot known as Mae West.  Be sure to keep an eye out for the three-toed Allosaurus tracks in the dinosaur trackway.  Leprechaun Trail is best explored in smaller groups, and to access the full canyon it requires complete technical gear, good climbing skills, and great hiking boots with strong traction.  Learn more about Leprechaun Slot Canyon here.

Safety: Check the weather report before entering Leprechaun Canyon, and beware of flash flooding. Navigation can be extremely difficult for larger hikers.

Little Wild Horse Trail - Fun for All Ages

Little Wild Horse Slot Canyon

A hiker in a narrow section of Little Wild Horse slot canyon north of Hanksville

Little Wild Horse Trail is a popular slot canyon in the heart of the San Rafael Swell. The trail twists and turns through long, narrow sections of sandstone, illuminated by striking rays of sun through tiny cracks even into the narrowest sections. It’s an extremely photogenic slot canyon.

To reach the Little Wild Horse Trailhead, turn west just before the entrance station to Goblin Valley State Park and follow the road for five miles. Located near Goblin Valley at 4,962 feet, Little Wild Horse Trail is mostly sandstone, dirt and gravel with just a few boulders worth scrambling over and a total  elevation gain of 700 feet. No special gear or climbing skills are required. The trail is 3.3 miles one way, or you can add Bell Canyon for an 8-mile loop.  This trail is super popular so go early or late in the day for the best experience.

Safety: There may be pools of standing water during the wet weather. Be extremely cautious during spring run-off.  Learn more about Little Wild Horse Slot Canyon here.

Hiking Sheets Gulch – Waterpocket Fold

Sheets Gulch Slot Canyon

Sheets Gulch arch formation on the east side of Capitol Reef National Park

What Sheets Gulch lacks in drama it makes up for in simple beauty and navigation, with narrow passages through the textured red and orange Navajo sandstone walls and a recognized trail all the way through the canyon. Designated as a moderate hiking trail, Sheets Gulch is one of the relatively easier Sheets Gulch trail begins at 5,167 feet and has an elevation gain of only 450 feet. To reach the trailhead, look for the marked parking lot on the west side of Notom-Bullfrog Road (about 13 miles south of Highway 24). As you enter the gulch, the sandstone walls gradually rise until you reach the narrows about two miles in. The trail is rocky with some chokestones and pieces of petrified wood, but no major obstacles. It’s tight for about half a mile, then opens up to Douglas Fir-lined streambed and a beautiful arch at the 3.5-mile point. It will take some climbing assistance to ascend the 20 feet to the bench, but this is the most challenging part of the trail. The 6-mile mark is a good turning point to head back. Plan a full day for this hike and learn more about Sheets Gulch here.

Safety: Hike in pairs or small groups for climbing assistance over dry washes and other obstacles. Wear good hiking shoes. This trail will flood during wet weather, so check conditions prior to heading out.