Capitol Reef Slot Canyon

This slot canyon is Keith’s favorite in Capitol Reef NP with a maze of mysterious passageways that are fun and challenging.  Our secret route to approach the slots takes about 1.5 miles and gets increasely beautiful up the canyon – it avoids a couple miles of sand-slogging on the route recommended in guidebooks (this mundane approach discourages most hikers).  Because of the eastward tilt of rock layers along Waterpocket Fold, we begin the hike in crumbly layers of the Carmel Formation including unusual white gypsum rock.  The slots begin soon after the stream cuts into the underlying Navajo Sandstone.  In places where the canyon opens up into slickrock basins, domes of slickrock sandstone begin to tower higher and higher above us.  The slot canyons get deeper and darker until we reach a pour-off (dry waterfall) that seems to mark the end of our canyoneering.  However, a route skirts around this impass over steep ridges of sandstone, so we are able to continue up through a maze of slot canyons dissected into crisscrossing joints (cracks) in the sandstone.  We finally reach an impassable (for us) pour-off, realizing that is getting late enough in the day to start heading back anyway.  If recent rains have filled potholes, you will need to bring some river-shoes and expect to get wet.  If it is dry, you will need to chimney over chockstones and impasses, but we don’t need to use ropes.  Of course, if thunderstorm threaten, we won’t risk going into this canyon because it doesn’t have essential escape routes.  Given the length and steepness of the hike and driving time to get to the trailhead, this hike is only for the most fit hikers.