Route: Spooky - Peekaboo Canyon Loop (UT)

Submitted by Jason Hardrath… on Mon, 11/30/2020 - 12:20pm
Utah, US
5 mi
Vertical Gain
600 ft

What makes this loop great?

There is not a canyon blog, nor "best Utah hikes" list that does not at least reference these two canyons (see links for further research below). Unlike many of the Escalante-area slot canyons, Peek-a-Boo and Spooky Gulch require zero technical gear or know-how—although it requires some navigational and rock-scrambling skill. Peek-A-Boo is a slot and corkscrew, and Spooky Gulch is a narrow slot canyon. It is worth noting, due to the restrictive nature of the some of the spaces in Spooky, this canyon is better suited for smaller body types. Adding to the cool factor of this destination is that it’s a loop — which is rare for these parts. Due to these factors I cannot think of a more iconic, non-technical Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument area canyon loop. These canyons are nature's obstacle course racing but there is a big difficulty....

...the crux (difficulties) of going fast in canyons and remaining respectful of others

THESE CANYONS ARE SUPER NARROW. The real difficulty to overcome is timing your attempt on this route to avoid tourists. Those of us who love to experience pushing our body on nature's most challenging terrain need to be respectful of those who like to experience it at a leisurely pace and those who may be scared by their first experiences in these beautiful spaces. 

as such, early morning starts (before the first wave of tourists) or waiting until just before sunset (after most leisure hikers are already on the trail back and out of the canyons) are really the only acceptable times to run this fast. Please be a good representative of the running/FKT community with your attempt. Also, you can choose a shoulder season for the area too.  If there are already tons of cars at the trailhead, its probably not a good day to go scare little families having their vacations. Be kind and courteous.

You will likely want to go walk through these canyons slowly to soak them in and rehearse the movements/twists and turns for efficiency sake. Use that pre-run as a time to assess just how difficult it is to get around people and how you will really want these canyons empty for your attempt anyhow. 

Directions, Parking and Regulations

GPS Coordinates for the trailhead:
(37.476782, -111.220040)

From the pull-off at Highway 12, head down Hole-in-the-Rock Road for 26.3 miles to Dry Fork road and the trailhead — set and watch your odometer to be sure. Make sure you have a full tank of gas and lots of water as there are no amenities down this rough dirt road.

This section of Hole-in-the-Rock Road provides easy access for passenger vehicles when dry; when wet, due to the clay consistency of the dirt, it might be impassable for even 4x4 vehicles. To be safe, don’t drive on wet roads in the desert.

The trip is great in the spring or fall, any time of day; the cool canyon makes for a respite from the summer’s heat in the area. Just make sure you always check the weather report, because this is flash-flood country, and June, July, and August carry the greatest risk. Also note that there have been sightings of Great Basin rattlesnakes in the canyons and in the desert in general — be careful.

For current conditions on any of the slot canyons off Hole-in-the-Rock Road, Burr Trail, or other hiking opportunities in, or along the Escalante River and its side canyons, please contact the Escalante Interagency Visitor Center at 435-826-5499.

Further Research: