Mel Slot (Tombstone Canyon)

Mel Slot (Tombstone Canyon)

Page Type Page Type: Canyon
Location Lat/Lon: 38.25350°N / 109.3452°W
Activities Activities: Canyoneering
Seasons Season: Spring, Fall
Sign the Climber's Log


Mel Slot (I originally called it Tombstone before I found out someone else called it Mel Slot) is one of the few true slot canyons around Moab. For sure this is one of the top canyons in Moab and the only one I have done which is comparable to the slot canyons in places like the Roost.  This page is a brief description of the Slot Canyon.

Inside the Mel Slot.  Notice the person in the upper part of the photo.
Inside the Mel Slot. Notice the person in the upper part of the photo.


Getting There

Briefly put, from Moab, drive south to La Sal Junction. Turn east here and follow SH 46 to CR 313. Turn right on CR 313 and follow it to CR 181 which takes off west and is also known as West Coyote Road. From here high clearance or even 4wd might be required. The first time I was out here, the road was graded, but when I was here in October 2022 the road was washed our and much rougher. Drive CR 181/West Coyote Road to where it makes an elbow and CR 156 goes straight. You can park anywhere in the vicinity. An oil well makes a good landmark. Some 4wd roads will take you slightly closer, but it’s almost easier to walk.


Approach Hike

From the vicinity of the Oil Well, pull out your map and make your way SSW around and below the cliffs, passing below Point 6650 on the map. Look for a (possible clandestine?) mountain bike trail in the vicinity which follows the bench. Please stay off the crypto soil as much as possible. The mountain bike track is pretty fast going so is worth looking for. It actually goes all the way to the stot which is near the 6234 numbers on the map.

Kessler on the approach to Mel Slot
Kessler on the approach to Mel Slot
The head of the slot
The head of the slot


From the head of the slot, scramble down in. The first real drop can be downclimbed by the skilled, but most people will want to rappel it (up to 30 Feet/9 Meters).

The Second Rappel length varies depending on where you set your anchor, but can be up to 60 Feet/18 meters in length.

Rappel 2
Rappel 2

After some more down climbing, you reach Rappel 3, which is the end of the technical section.  Rappel 3 is 120-130 feet in length, depending on where you set your anchor.

At the top of Rappel 3
At the top of Rappel 3
Rappel 3
Rappel 3


After completing the last rappel, you can put away your ropes. From here there are some interesting downclimbs and often some pools in the slot. This is a nice slot canyon, especially for the Moab area, so enjoy it.

You will eventually come to a 4th drop that can't be downclimbed. This can be bypassed or you could rappel it as well. If you bypass it, stay off the crypto! Eventually you can climb out of the canyon on either side. You can either exit or do some more exploring. The next canyon to the west isn't a slot, but has lots of interesting and impressive alcoves. It also has some bushwhacking as well.


Spring and Fall are ideal.  This canyon is higher elevation than most canyons around Moab, thus winters are pretty cold, but if the weather is dry and if the access roads are dry it can be reasonable.  Summers are still pretty warm, but not as hot as other areas around Moab.

Red Tape

There is no red tape, so please tread lightly here.


There are good campsites around the trailhead.

Canyon Conditions

Click Here for the Weather Forecast for Mel Slot.

Below is the National Weather Service Climate Summary for nearby La Sal 1913-2016.  



SNOW (in)

JAN 36 13 58 -22 0.85 8.1
FEB 40 17 64 -27 0.83 8.6
MAR 48 23 74 -10 0.79 6.0
APR 57 30 82 -1 1.00 3.2
MAY 67 39 92 16 0.89 0.9
JUN 79 48 100 22 0.79 0
JUL 85 54 101 34 1.43 0
AUG 82 53 99 33 1.53 0
SEP 74 45 94 18 1.20 0.1
OCT 62 34 89 0 1.57 1.6
NOV 47 23 70 -8 0.90 5.4
DEC 39 16 63 -22 1.05 10.4