There aren’t many slot canyons in Arizona, but you can certainly visit some of the most famous ones in the world. So let’s take a look at the best slot canyons in Arizona, that are also the most easily accessible.
There is some general information to keep in mind before going into one of these canyons, which we have described in more detail in our article about American slot canyons.
Antelope Canyon: Upper, Lower and… X
Let’s start with Antelope Canyon, the most famous slot canyon in the United States and perhaps even in the world. It is located near Page and is located in the Navajo Nation. In order to visit it, it is mandatory to book a tour, and given the large influx of tourists, it is advisable to reserve the tour in advance.
Actually, there are two distinct slot canyons, namely Upper Antelope (the most famous and most visited) and Lower Antelope (slightly more challenging to visit and less frequented). I also want to mention Antelope Canyon X, which is the third section of Antelope Canyon, formed by two different slot canyons (North and South). Although it is a few miles away from the more famous section of Antelope Canyon, it is part of the same canyon and is a great alternative to the other two, because it is just as beautiful, but it is less crowded.
If you would like to find out all the information you need to organize your trip, you can read our in-depth article on how to plan a visit to Antelope Canyon.
But these are not the only slot canyons in the area. Within a radius of a few hundred yards, you can also visit, always and only after booking a tour, three other slot canyons, each unique in its own way. The three slot canyons are:
- Owl Canyon
- Mountain Sheep Canyon
- Rattlesnake Canyon
The great advantage of visiting these somewhat unknown slot canyons is that there are fewer tourists, which will allow you to more fully enjoy the place. The disadvantage, as I have said, is that they can only be visited by booking a tour, which can be a little expensive. Moreover, you must make sure you plan in advance.
Water Holes Canyon – Secret Canyon
Many people call this slot canyon the best alternative to Antelope Canyon, for its beauty (in my opinion, it is similar to Antelope Canyon, but they’re not the same thing) and because it is not visited by as many tourists, which means you have the possibility to enjoy your excursion and have more peace of mind.
In the past, it was not necessary to book a tour and you could freely access Water Holes Canyon. Now (unfortunately) you have to book a tour on-site and the tour itself is not even that cheap. In any case, you can find all the information on how to get there by reading our article about Waterholes Canyon.
Arizona Hot Springs Canyon
This slot canyon is located in the Lake Mead Recreational Area, just south of the famous Hoover Dam. It can be accessed via a 2.5-mile (one way) trail that starts from the trail’s parking lot along Highway 93, located just over 3.4 miles south of the dam.
After about 1970 ft from the parking lot, you’ll come to a fork in the road from where two trails start, the White Rock Canyon Trail and the Hot Spring Canyon Trail, which practically form a loop along the banks of the Colorado River. However, I suggest that you choose the second option, since it is a bit shorter. However, keep in mind that you will face an elevation gain of about 720 ft, which makes the trail quite tiring and recommended only for those who are in good shape.
You will spend most of the hike walking along the course of a large canyon, but the most spectacular and curious attraction of this slot canyon are the so-called Hot Springs, which are small artificial pools of hot water that have been created between the high walls of the canyon to prevent excessive water flow along the path. The closer you are to the spring, the hotter the water will become. The water temperature can even reach 104°.
If you have hiked the Hot Spring Canyon Trail, once you pass the pools, you will find a ladder that you can use to continue your route to the banks of the Colorado River, where it will not be unusual to find many canoes on the side of the river, that were used by those who have preferred to reach this area by canoeing on the river.
If you want to go on this trail, there are some recommendations to keep in mind. Be prepared for the heat that is particularly dangerous in this area during the summer months (so much so that the trail is officially considered closed from May 15 to September 30). During most of the hike, you will be exposed to sunlight and you won’t find any shade. So don’t be fooled by the relative shortness of the trail and plan your hike carefully.
I must also warn you to be careful when swimming in the pools, since an amoeba called Naegleria Fowleri has been found in the water, which in the most serious cases, can cause infection and death. The warning signs you will see along the way say that you should not let the water from the pools enter your nose or mouth.