Hiking Zebra Slot Canyon Zebra Slot Canyon is located off of Hole in the Rock Road, near Escalante, UT. The hike is only 2 miles in, and the best section of the striped walls only lasts for about 100 ft. Getting to the slot is quite easy, as it meanders through Juniper & Sage brush, cuts through a beautiful red rock canyon, then open up as you walk through the sandy dry wash, and eventually leads to the iconic striped walls resembling zebra stripes.The biggest issue with hiking through Zebra Slot Canyon is the water; 90% of the time this canyon has standing water from recent/prior rain storms. When I saw that some friends went, and said it was completely dry, I knew I had to hurry and get down there. I had attempted Zebra back in November 2014 but was full of icy water. I wasn’t properly dressed or had neoprene socks to walk through that. I knew I had to get back, and we timed it perfectly this time.
The closest towns to the Zebra slot canyon are Escalante and Bolder (28 miles apart). Escalante has a population of around 1,000 and Bolder has around 250 inhabitants. There are no real campsites on the Hole in the Rock Rd, but there are several BLM pullouts which allow camping. Hiking Zebra Slot Canyon can be a little tricky. Finding the entrance to the slot canyon can be difficult unless you have good directions (keep reading!) and navigating the slot canyon can be challenging. I failed, which I am a little embarrassed to admit, but find out what I did wrong so you can have a better experience. Details About the Hike. The first pair was an older couple with a dog who didn't seem like they had the strength to make it all the way to Tunnel Slot. I am sure they perished. The second pair of people were a couple from Amsterdam, and the guy was a photographer. They unfortunately arrived at Zebra Slot exactly as i was getting ready to enter it.
Drive East of Escalante, UT on HWY 12, then turn right onto Hole in the Rock Road. Reset your odometer and drive 8 miles. The TH/parking lot is right at a cattle guard, and the trail starts on the East side of the road.
Here is a driving map.
Distance: 5 miles RT
Elevation gain: flat, 23 ft
Time: 2-4 hours
Dog friendly? Yes, off leash but read advisory below
Kid friendly? Yes, but read advisory below
Can I bring my dog here?
Though dogs are allowed off leash, and we brought ours along, I wouldn’t recommend taking dogs here. Zebra slot canyon is very narrow; there are also several tight obstacles they need assistance with – the hardest is getting them over a really narrow section at the bottom. We had to sit cross-canyon (legs and back agains the wall), and let the dogs walk over our laps to get across! Another option would be to bring them, but then each hiker goes one by one to get to the end, then comes back and trades off watching the dogs at the canyon entrance. If you still want to bring your dog, make sure they wear a dog harness to help pull them over obstacles.
Is this a good hike for kids?
Kids who are comfortable with tight spaces and scrambling will have fun and do well. They will need help getting over/through the tightest sections.
What should I bring?
Each person should carry at least 2-3 liters of water. The simpler & lighter you go, the easier it will be getting through the canyon. We opted to leave our packs at the canyon entrance so we didn’t have to worry about carrying them through. The best section is really short anyway, and you should need anything out of your pack for 15-20 minutes. Also don’t wear your “nice” hiking clothes – the canyon walls will scrape your clothes and they can get torn. Dress in layers – even in January we were down to tank tops when popped out of the canyon into the sun.
The parking area is big, and is right on the other side of the cattle guard off Hole in the Rock Road (HITR), on the West side fo the road.
The trail starts on the East side of HITR road.
The trail is very easy as it meanders through Sage & Juniper trees – pass the No Collection sign.
As you can see the trail is very exposed – no shade for the entire hike. Make sure you carry sunblock, plenty of water, and a hat, even in Winter.
Hike past the Wilderness Study Area sign, and you will now be in a dry wash called Halfway Hollow.
Cut through the gate either right through the swining ladders, or off to the right, where you can move a gate to get through.
You should now be hiking through some amazing red rock country!
Zebra Slot Canyon Dogs Allowed
Once you reach the large, dry Harris Wash, head left. You can either walk through the middle of the wash, or off to the side on the right through some sage brush. Either way it’s slow going since it’s thick sand.
Entrance to Zebra. The temperatures weren’t even that hot, yet Charlie decided to take a break in the shade. We dropped our packs right around the corner so we didn’t have to shimmy through the slot with them on.
@adventuresofpollyandmac gets a boost from her mom as the canyon narrows.
I think they are all saying, “ME FIRST!” This was one of the toughest sections to get them over because the ground was too narrow for even us to put our feet. We had to put our backs and legs against the walls, then let the dogs walk over our legs!
Same tough spot, but looking back to the others as they get the last dog, Copper, across. He was the hardest since he is the biggest dog at 80 lbs.
The canyon stays narrow, but this time the dogs can make it through themselves.
And after one last boost up for Charlie, we found the best section. It’s even more amazing in person! The end of the canyon is only about 10 ft behind me. To be honest, it’s a long, dry, sandy hike to get to for such a short section of the zebra stripes. This was my second time here, and I finally got to see the best part, but wouldn’t do this hike again.
Trail map (you can see my GPS went a little crazy in the slot canyon)
Zebra Slot Canyon Dogs For Adoption
The Ultimate Guide – Dog Friendly Hikes in Escalante, Utah!
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Zebra Slot Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah
The nearly 6-mile round-trip hike to this beautiful yet short striated slot canyon is a route-finding journey. And discovering the opening to the slot, near the end of the hike, is just the beginning of the adventure.
On the cross-country hike in, don’t miss the tall, orange sandstone slopes off to the far left, featuring sweeping, layered patterns of bizarrely angled waves. This slope is best photographed up close, with a wide-angle lens, and it’s better to wait until the return hike, when it will be in afternoon shade.
Speaking of shade, there’s none along the way, so bring several liters of drinking water. And speaking of water, the entry to this slot canyon is often guarded with waist-deep cold water.
When you first enter the slot canyon, the slanting cliff walls meet underwater in an ankle-straining V-shaped junction of stone. It’s so narrow that you’ll need to hold your backpack overhead and shuffle through sideways. Remember, it’s not an adventure if it’s easy.
Once beyond the water, you continue by bracing yourself up and through the angular canyon walls, encountering the sensation that you’re navigating the anatomy of inner Earth. To reach the most photogenic sections, you’ll wriggle still deeper through the sculpted striations of this trance-inducing chamber. At some point, you’ll begin to notice dark Moqui marbles, spherical concretions of iron oxide, a surprise anomaly embedded in the striking sandstone. Ranging in size from tennis balls to ping pong balls, they’re the pictorial adornment to the already-extravagant slot canyon.
As you’ve probably guessed by now, this hike is for experienced route finders and agile scramblers only. If you’re new to this type of experience, then canyoneering terms like chimneying, stemming and manteling will begin to be part of your adventure lexicon.
[Excerpt from “Southwest Serenity,” published in Outdoor Photographer magazine, 2019 Special Issue.]