Dry Fork Slot Canyon is at the head of the Dry Fork of Coyote Gulch, in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. It is a beautiful slot canyon with very high walls and consistent narrows for nearly one mile. This canyon requires no technical gear and very little scrambling to travel its entire length. In canyoneering terms, it is a 2A.
Other popular canyons in this area include Peek-a-boo, Spooky, and Brimstone slots.
Photographers should note that the best light is from late morning to early afternoon because of the narrow, high walls. Even at mid-day, most of the canyon is very dark.
- From Escalante, UT.
- Travel Highway 12 southeast of Escalante for approximately five miles.
- Find the well-signed Hole in the Rock Road (dirt).
- Travel Hole in the Rock Road for 26.2 miles to an unsigned turn-off to the east.
- Follow this dirt road (#252) for approximately one mile until it forks.
- Take the left fork (still #252).
- Follow this road for about 0.5 mile to an obvious parking area with a trail register.
Hole in the Rock road is rarely maintained and is badly rutted. The road gets worse and worse the further you get from Highway 12, but does not turn into a full four-wheel drive road until after the turn-off for this canyon. Some passenger cars might make it to the turn-off after 26.2 miles, but consider that parts of the road are quite sandy and could trap a two-wheel drive vehicle. Also, this road becomes impassable by almost anything after a good rain. Consider the weather carefully before entering this vast and remote area.
The road (#252) is fairly good until the fork, but is worse afterward. A carefully-driven passenger car with more clearance might make it to the trailhead, but consider the remoteness of this area before risking car damage.
I drove a Subaru Outback to this trailhead with no issues at all. An SUV / jeep would have no problems.
From the trailhead:
- Follow the cairned trail as it traverses the cliffs below the trailhead toward the west. Eventually, it drops you above the main wash, where you continue to follow cairns down slickrock to the sandy wash bottom.
- Follow the wash bottom for about 200 yards until it opens up and widens considerably.
- Turn left (north) and spot the obvious entrance to Dry Fork Slot Canyon, a significant canyon in the rock to the north.
- Enter the canyon and hike as far as you like.
- Obstacles: (1) There is a chockstone obstacle approximately halfway through the canyon that can be easily overcome with some stemming. (2) Near the end of the canyon (when the walls become shorter) there is a standing pool of water that can be overcome two ways. First, you could wade the mucky water. Second, you can easily climb out of the canyon to the east and bypass the pool.
- The canyon ends in a minor wash to the north. Spend a few minutes exploring the interesting rock layers exposed in this area.
Warning About Flash Flooding:
Never hike a slot canyon when it is raining upstream
. It matters less what's happening over your head than what is happening at the head of the stream. Make certain that it is not raining upstream before committing to your hike.
Overnight permits are required within the Monument for all overnight car camping or backpacking. Permits are free of charge and may be obtained at any monument visitor center (listed below) or at developed trailheads.
Driving off of designated roads is prohibited within the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
Camping in this area of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is at large with few restrictions. I saw a few restricted areas that were signed (probably for overuse). There is decent camping at the trailhead, but it is completely exposed to the elements.
Weather and ConditionsWeather:
Follow this link for a NOAA Forecast
for the area.
This portion of Utah contains some of the most remote areas in the continental United States. Parties entering the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument should be prepared for self-rescue and carry provisions for several days. Do not count on seeing other parties for help. A cell phone works in some areas of the Monument, but only usually in the higher reaches. Do not count on using your cell phone for rescue.
There are few reliable sources of water here, so bring and carry all of the water you will need unless you know you are going to a place with water. Carry plenty of water in the summer.
Summer is extremely hot and dry with temperatures routinely in the 100s. Spring varies considerably, and it the wettest season for most canyons. Fall is very pleasant, especially late fall, and typically has the most stable weather. Winter can render roads impassable, but can also provide some of the best hiking weather in canyon country.
The Topo map below shows the route from the Hole in the Rock road to the trailhead to the slot canyon. It is highly recommended that you bring a map of the surrounding area.