**Limited Shade… pack a gallon of water per person in summer months. The hike out is a long, sandy uphill trek. Use discretion**
Elkheart Slot Canyon: Bottom up… Located in the middle of the Glendale Bench; this 7,000 foot plateau offers similar geological colors and formations as its neighbor: Zion National Park. The many areas along this hike into ElkHeart Slot Canyon offer sweeping views of white cliffs, Navajo Sandstone and striations/tarnishing that are as photo-worthy as Zion. Once to the entrance of the slot canyon, you will wind within 50 foot walls that gain height the further you go. Not far into the canyon you will encounter your first obstacle… a tricky twist in the sandstone that is accessible with a bit of nimble scrambling and use of Moqui steps. Once through this section you will continue a bit further to the next obstacle… a bit harder to maneuver than the last; and much higher. If you can negotiate this part you will be met with yet another bump in the road… this is where I ended up turning around. But not for lack of trying… Turns out technical gear for climbing is a must and entering the canyon from the northeast (top) is a much better option (which I will post about soon) but again, ropes will be needed unless you can find the by-pass trails along the way. Recent flash flooding this summer and early autumn have dropped the floor of the canyon in the bottom section by 6 feet! Blogs I have read posted prior to this year, do not indicate a difficult hike until much further in… so erosion has most definitely made a once kid-friendly lower slot canyon hike into a more technical one right off the bat.
The banding, color and contouring in Elkheart Canyon are unique; the shade and coolness within the rocks is a welcome reprieve. The hike in and out for the length accessible in the canyon from the “bottom” seems long… but if you are looking to stretch your legs and take in amazing views… I recommend it. I was not disappointed with the canyon; just my lack of spider-monkey skills and not being much over 5’2″. At one point on the way out at obstacle #2, I was unable to find a stable foothold and ended up sliding down onto my husband’s shoulders. He is 6’3″… it made for a memorable hike and my determination to see this canyon from top to bottom. I may end up hiring a fellow guide to take me in with ropes so I can experience Elkheart in all its glory. I will be back to blog about this trek.
**Once you begin the sandy course, be mindful of the lack of shade, the temperature and the amount of water you bring. Late spring and summer months will make this short hike miserable if you are not prepared. I DO NOT recommend this hike alone. Even if you have the right gear… there are many ankle twisters and the canyon isn’t highly trafficked on a daily basis.
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Location: A spacious parking area for the canyon is located on the northeast side of US 89 between miles 78 and 79, near the top of the climb from the Virgin River valley/Mt. Carmel area, and half a mile west of the road to Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park.
Trail: From the parking area along Hwy 89, follow the 2-track until you see power pole #316 in front of you. The sandy trail continues straight to the right of this pole. Follow the footprints as they meander down through the cedars. You will come to a big sand dune. Continue along the spine of the dune until you come to a sharp RIGHT where you will begin the switch backs down to the wash. Do not follow any tracks that dump off the dune. It is steep and you will be met with a 15 foot shear rock wall towards the bottom. Once to the wash you will hang a RIGHT and continue to the slot canyon entrance.