The slot canyons of Southern Utah are one of our states most underrated gems. If you're looking for an adventure with mind blowing views and elements of climbing, look no further. These slots can range from easy strolls to highly technical canyoneering routes with multi pitch rappels, high stemming and free climbing. So before you embark on a slot canyon adventure, be mindful of it's classification or rating. Start easy!
To help make your slot canyon trip more enjoyable, here are a few tips:
Bring the right gear. Being prepared with the right gear is key and can make or break the trip. This is especially true when it comes to hiking in a slot canyon. Wear a helmet. Slot canyons are dangerous and even deadly. Rocks can fall from above with little to no warning, so protecting your head is obvious. Shoes with good grip in wet conditions are a must as well as dry bags to keep your food and clothes dry. After a day of hiking in wet clothes, it doesn't get much better than putting on some dry socks and shoes. Bring a Map (and laminate it if you can). Bob Allan made a great map of slot canyons in Utah, and knowing where you're at is crucial to keeping yourself and others safe. A basic first aid kit is always a bright idea as well as plenty of food and water.
Plan and Prepare. Flash floods do happen in slot canyons and can be a deadly hazard. It can be raining miles away from your location and the weather can appear perfectly calm when a flash flood suddenly takes place. More often, the weather can change fast and storms can come out of nowhere. This is the main thing that you want to avoid when hiking in a slot canyon.
The first step is to plan and keep a close eye on the weather and the weather in areas that have the ability to affect the drainages you will be in. You will want to check the weather right up until you hit the trail, as storms can move in quickly especially during the heat of summer. While hiking, keep an eye to the sky for storm clouds and listen for thunder. Lastly, don't be afraid to cancel your trip or reroute if bad weather is on the horizon. Remember, the mountains will always be there.
In case of a flash flood, get to higher ground quickly. If you are in a narrow spot with no options, and are confident you can move through it quickly, do so. If climbing out is the only option and you have climbing gear, ascend to a ledge and setup an anchor for the group. You want to find a safe place as far away from the water as possible where you can sit for a while because high water can stick around for hours. Don't try to wade through fast water as it doesn't take much to pull you away. It is best to wait it out.
Canyoneering can be a very memorable experience but taking the right precautions is key to longevity in the mountains. Happy Trails.