Have you heard of Peek-a-Boo and Spooky Slot Canyons? Well, I hadn’t until I was searching for hikes to do at Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. If you have been following along on my previous posts, you would know we just visited Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park. The last stop on our Utah trip was Grand Staircase Escalante (GSE) National Monument. I wished we could have traveled farther to Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, and Arches, but I only had a week off for vacation. It was already going to be a long drive back to Los Angeles so we thought GSE would be a good point to start turning around.
You’ve probably heard of the famous slot canyons in Arizona called Antelope Canyon, right? It’s been a dream of mine to go visit, but just haven’t found the time. I would have tried on this trip, but Antelope Canyon has been closed since COVID started. So, when I heard there were other slot canyons we could go visit, I knew we had to make a stop. Even though Peek-a-Boo and Spooky slot canyons aren’t as famous, I thought the hike was gorgeous and super fun. There’s no requirement to book a tour (unlike Antelope Canyon) and there was barely anyone on the trail. We got to take our time and take as many pictures as we wanted. Always a plus in my book!
PEEK-A-BOO AND SPOOKY SLOT CANYONS DETAILS
NAME: Peek-a-Boo and Spooky Slot Canyons a.k.a. Peek-a-Boo Gulch and Spooky Gulch
PARK ENTRANCE FEE : Free
DISTANCE : Approximately 5 miles roundtrip
ELEVATION : 662 ft
TYPE : Loop
DIFFICULTY : Hard
TIME : You can probably do this in 3 hours, but we stopped so many times and took so many pictures that it took almost 5 hours. I feel like half the time is spent getting to the entrance of the slot canyons and the other half was inside the actual canyons itself.
ROAD CONDITIONS TO PEEK-A-BOO AND SPOOKY SLOT CANYONS
From the town of Escalante, you’re going to take Hole-in-the-Rock road and it is going to take you at least an hour to get to the trailhead. Even though it’s only 33 miles from town, the road conditions are extremely uncomfortable. People said that you should have a 4×4 or AWD, but in my opinion, it’s not really going to help you. Unless you have a vehicle equipped with monster truck tires, you will feel every single little bump and dip along the way. When we first imagined how this road was going to be, we thought there were going to be big rocks or boulders that we would have to climb over. It turns out, this road is a flat, rocky, bumpy, piece of hell that you cannot go any faster than 30 miles per hour on otherwise you risk having your teeth fall out from all the chattering.
Even though it was nice to have our 4Runner, I don’t think it was particularly necessary here. It definitely was necessary during the Bryce Canyon portion of our trip, but it didn’t make a difference here. The snow had mostly melted already so the road was pretty much rock and dirt. My friend took the same road back in November in a Honda Accord and they made it. This is just to give you reference on what can be driven on this road. Of course, if there’s been heavy snowfall, a 4×4 or AWD is a must.
WHAT TO WEAR DURING WINTER
If you’ve read my other Utah posts, I’ve been literally wearing the exact same items the whole trip. The main thing you should know is that you will be in a canyon that will be shaded most of the day. The temperature pretty much stayed the same the whole hike and I didn’t need to put on or take off layers as much. I would definitely wear something that is of slick or smooth material vs. cotton or wool. These canyons are really narrow and your clothes will get caught or snag on something. Below is what I wore if you need an idea to get you started.
Uniqlo Heattech Long Sleeve / Northface Fleece Zip-Up / Uniqlo Ultra Light Down Parka / H&M Fleece Leggings / Uniqlo Heattech Leggings / Columbia Just Right Hiking Pants (Short) / Beanie / Flip Over Mittens/Gloves / Darn Tough Hiking Socks / Columbia Hiking Shoes / Gator
TIPS FOR PEEK-A-BOO AND SPOOKY SLOT CANYONS
- Start: Start at Peek-a-Boo first and hike clockwise to Spooky. This way will ensure that you will be going down the rope portion instead of trying to climb it. My other friend started at Spooky and he had to pull himself up 10+ feet.
- Reception: There is NO reception once you start on the dirt road. Make sure you download whatever maps and trails you need first before you start.
- Sand: There is soft sand everywhere. I mean almost powder-like. If you have camera equipment like we do, just make sure you don’t set it down on the ground or have it accidentally knock over. It’ll take forever to get out.
- Parking: When we went, there were only four other cars in the main parking lot. Check that parking lot first before you park at the overflow parking. It’ll save you some time.
THE BEGINNING OF THE TRAIL
Congrats! Hopefully, you’ve made it to the upper parking lot vs. the overflow lot and are now at the trailhead. This trailhead is the starting point for: Dry Fork Narrows, Peek-A-Boo, and Spooky Slot Canyons. I will say that the trail is not as clearly defined as I would like. We had to pull out our AllTrails map a couple times just to make sure we’re going in the right direction.
Getting to the actual slot canyons will take you some time. I would say for at least 45 minutes, you’ll be walking along the side of a hill and then descending into a creek bed. We only knew that we were close to the slot canyons because of a sign. There’s no clear designated path so we kind of had to figure out which entrance was which. At first, we ended up at the entrance to Dry Fork Narrows first, but eventually found our way to Peek-a-Boo’s entrance.
PEEK-A-BOO SLOT CANYON
You know you’re at the Peek-a-Boo entrance if you have to climb up a wall versus walking straight on through. The entrance to this canyon is tough especially if you’re short like me. You will really have to stretch your legs to reach the top of the first ledge. I had to toss my backpack up first and then my boyfriend had to help push me up. Once you’ve conquered that part, it’s pretty much a slow and steady walk through the slot canyon. There are a few spots along the way where we had to take off our backpacks because it was too narrow, but other than that, everything was truly amazing to see. It’s my first slot canyon ever so it was fun to squeeze our way in between the rocks.
The Peek-a-Boo portion of the trail will end at a clearing. You will be greeted with a relatively flat land covered in desert bushes and trees. The trail again isn’t really clearly marked. We got lost and had to use our AllTrails map again to help us find the entrance to Spooky.
THE “ROPE” PORTION
If you’ve done any research about this hike, you will know that there comes a point in the trail where you will have to repel down a rope. The rope portion is in a rock-fallen crevice of Spooky Canyon. Again, if you started off at Peek-a-Boo, you’ll be going down the rope versus going up it. To be honest, I was a little nervous about this part. I’ve read that this was around a 10-foot drop and sometimes there was a rope there and sometimes there was not. I’ve also read that you should bring your own rope because why would you trust the rope that was there anyways? Well, we ended up just winging it and hoped for the best.
When we arrived, there was already another couple trying to figure how to get down. They looked like they were having trouble so they let us go on ahead. They said they couldn’t see any rope so I was afraid that we would have to turn back. At first, it does look like there’s no rope, but if you drop down to the first rock, you’ll see a sketchy-looking rope at eye level to the right.
My boyfriend went down first. He concluded that the best strategy was to hold onto the rope, have my feet on the rocks in front of me, and then have my back lean against the opposite rock. Then slowly repel down the wall moving my feet step by step down the wall. Once there was no more wall for my feet, I had to reach down with my foot to find a place to stand. Unfortunately, I was not tall enough so I kind of had to slightly jump down on the last part. After I made it down, I noticed that I was surrounded by massive boulders over my head. Looking above freaked me out more than the climbing down the rope.
This canyon holds true to its name. It’s narrower than Peek-a-Boo, which mean it’s darker and creepier. We had to hold on to our backpacks most of the time because the canyon was way too narrow to pass through with them on. I would not recommend Spooky for anyone who is claustrophobic. I’m not claustrophobic and there were instances where I started to feel a little scared. It did help knowing that a bunch of people have done this trail and I shouldn’t be worried.
Another distinguishing thing I noticed about Spooky was that it has a lot of bumps and ridges in the rock formation. Peek-a-Boo’s canyon was really smooth, but Spooky had all these crazy abnormalities protruding from the rock. Not sure why Spooky had it, but not Peek-a-Boo. It was nice to see that Peek-a-Boo and Spooky had their own special points of interest though.
I had so much fun on this hike! Definitely worth checking out if you’re in the area. It wasn’t crowded at all and it felt like you had the whole park to yourself. Spring or fall time would probably be a better time to go since it won’t be as cold, but you risk having more people on the trail. Would I do this trail again? If it wasn’t for the horrible hour-long drive to and from, I would definitely do this again. Until that road is paved though… :-/