Slot canyons are one of Southern Utah’s greatest treasures. These canyons are known for their narrow width and often have smooth, towering walls. Utah has the largest concentration of slot canyons in the world. Red Hollow is a moderately trafficked slot canyon twenty miles east of Zion National Park in Orderville.
While there are many famous slots such as Buckskin Gulch and Zion’s Narrows, Red Hollow is a great less crowded alternative. The trailhead for the hike is at the city water facility at the end of a dirt road. A giant water tank helps mark the parking area. Any passenger car can typically make the trip, except in the winter when snow is present.
A sandy wash trails up to a shallow slot canyon framed by colorful red and white walls. Patches of greenery are scattered around the canyon in contrast. Sunlight shines over hikers in the wash, retreating back behind the rocks once inside the slot. The temperature drops inside the steep rock walls. It is a good idea to pack additional layers of clothes.
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There are some minor obstacles such as climbing over boulders and squeezing through narrow spots. Overall the hike is only a little over three miles long round trip. Dogs are allowed, though there are a few areas where they may need help or lifted over. Tight spots in the canyon provide an opportunity to practice chimneying or stemming, techniques of traveling through a slot canyon sometimes used in canyoneering. Chimneying is placing your back against one wall and your feet against the other wall. Stemming uses mostly leg strength and involves placing your left foot and left hand on one wall of the canyon and your right foot and right hand on the other wall. The rock obstacles provide a different perspective of the canyon.
Slot canyons are notorious for flash floods. Rain and moisture is somewhat rare in the desert, but it does happen. Hikers should always check the weather through both weather apps and in person. Red Hollow is a short slot compared to some of Utah’s other giant competitors, but it still is not a place for someone to get caught during flooding.
The canyon dead ends with a looming rock wall. A rope dangles here for those who are adventurous enough. The scenery does not drastically change with the quick hop in elevation, but it does add mileage to the short hike. Short length and flat terrain make the trail a good option for children and individuals looking for less strenuous activity.
Written by Lauren Kehoe