Peek-A-Boo Slot Canyon
Red Canyon, Kanab
LATITUDE/LONGITUDE: 37.17928616, -112.5597135
DIRECTIONS: Travel north of Kanab, UT for 9 miles and then make an eastern turn after the Peek-A-Boo sign along the highway. You will go up a small hill and cross a cattle guard before entering the large, graveled parking area. On the eastern side of the parking area, you will find BLM route 102. Follow route 102 until you reach a wash, also known as a dry riverbed. Once you’ve reached the wash, travel west onto BLM route 106H and follow the wash until it dead ends at the slot canyon. The route to the Peek-A-Boo trailhead is deep sand and requires a four-wheel, high-clearance vehicle and may even be inaccessible to those vehicles in the summer months. ATVs and UTVs are the most common mode of transportation to the canyon from the trailhead. All Wheel Drive is NOT recommended and will NOT make it. If hiking, plan on a strenuous hike in deep sand; over 6 miles round trip. Uphill on the way out. As always, hiking or driving, pack ample water. Always ensure your entry is not under a flash flood warning as this narrow canyon has little room for exiting during a flood.
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Originally named Red Canyon, the locals refer to it as Peek-A-Boo. This canyon is broken into two sections with a wider, short wash separating the two. Peek-A Boo is an in-and-out hike that dead ends at a narrow crevice with substantial rock fall.
The Navajo Sandstone walls of Peek-A-Boo vary in color and texture. Wind blown and rugged on one side in the first section and smoothly water eroded on the other… becoming completely smooth the further you venture in.
Not quite halfway through the canyon, a wooden ladder has been installed as flash flooding in late summer 2021 undercut this spot, creating a fairly tough spot to maneuver. The ladder allows for easier access.
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A few turns past the ladder; be looking for notches in the canyon wall ahead of you. These handholds, called Moki Steps, were chiseled as a ladder system by the Ancient Puebloans (Anazazi). These handholds are over a thousand years old and not recommended to climb. It is believed the handholds were carved using a code system. Hand, hand, foot, hand… or maybe foot, hand, hand, foot… Without knowing the code the climb is nearly impossible; ensuring access only for those who created them. An ancient security system.
As you near the end of the canyon you will see a few log jams lodged above you between the canyon walls. Some of the debris has been pushed in from above; while most of it has been carried in with flash flooding. These log jams give you a good sense of how impressive the water levels rise during flash flooding. You need to remember that sand and slickrock does not absorb rainfall… so all that water runs to the lowest point; usually a wash or slot canyon. The raindrops of monsoon storms have created slot canyons like Peek-A-Boo over millions of years. And these canyons are always changing, with every breath of wind and drop of rain.
And with any slot canyon, the light in Peek-A-Boo changes as the sun moves across the sky. With each season the sun hits the canyon differently and at different times. But there is no better or worse time to be here. The earlier you enter the quieter it will be as tours usually begin arriving around 9:30am. In summer months that time is earlier to beat the heat. But the canyon is long enough to absorb a fair number of visitors and allow everyone their own, unique experience.
If hiking in, try to get an early start as day time temps can soar. Your hike will be uphill the whole way out. In bottomless sand. Be mindful of ATV and SUV traffic, do not walk down the middle of the trail as it is narrow with several blind corners.
Please follow the Leave No Trace etiquette, pack it in and pack it out.
Written by Shelly Wayne
Local guide / Photographer