Most folks who visit the redrock desert of southern Utah love the “slickrock” that forms rocky expanses in Arches, Canyonlands, and other places having massive sandstone formations. Slickrock is a bit of a misnomer because it isn’t at all slippery, unless wet or icy. Composed of sandstone without a covering of soil, slickrock has grainy surface that allows you to climb very steep slopes without backsliding. Slickrock is the absolute best substrate for hiking and scampering across – it will certainly delight your wild self.
The Jurassic (180 million years old) Navajo Sandstone, centerpiece of Zion, Capitol Reef, and the Escalante Canyons, is southern Utah’s premier slickrock sandstone. These ancient sand dunes turned to stone create rolling landscapes with domes furrowed by slot canyons that are so wonderful to explore. Cross-beds, looking like the brushstrokes of Mother Nature, formed as layer-upon-layer of windblown sand avalanched down the faces of the ancient dunes. Some of the best routes across steep slopes follow “slickrock sidewalks” (Keith’s informal term) along the seam where one sandsdune piled over older sanddunes. Waterpocket pools etched into the slickrock are filled by rainwater and provide sustenance to unusual aquatic “pothole” organisms; the crystal waters invite you to reflect on their beauty or refresh yourself on a hot day. Hidden gardens growing on modern sanddunes tucked into furrows are microcosms that capture the imagination – each yucca or other plant seems to have been perfectly placed as if in an oriental garden. Slot Canyons are very narrow canyons with nearly vertical walls and sinuous passages carved by flashfloods that cut through slickrock like a knife through butter, to create some or our most magical hiking routes. Each place has its own special wonders, but we guarantee that you will love all of our Slickrock Wonderland Hikes!!