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One of our favorite adventures of all time. This one is quite out of the way, but the effort is rewarded with the COOLEST hike in one of the more remote areas of the country.
TAKING A DETOUR
After we left Valley of Fire State Park just outside of Las Vegas, we drove for a full day in order to get to Escalante. Since we only had a few days to explore, we wanted to be sure we had plenty of time in Escalante. We ended up driving through Zion National Park and past Bryce Canyon National Park, but not stopping in either place. Don’t worry, we’ve been to both places before and will go again! This time it was about getting to Escalante and having our next adventure.
HOLE IN THE ROCK ROAD
Arriving in Escalante (the nearest town), we drove 26 miles down one of the most washboarded roads we’ve ever been on. It didn’t help that our shocks were in severe need of replacing (we replaced them here), so it was a bumpy ride. Pyros probably thought the van was shaking apart for 26 miles, but it was well worth it.
Tip: pressuring down your tires helps tremendously on rough roads like this. We aired down to 25psi. There is a tire shop in town that let us air back up. If they are closed or busy, the gas station out front has a coin op air compressor.
Aside from the long drive over rough road, Hole in the Rock Road is home to some amazing landscapes, filled with slot canyons and hikes galore. It cuts through part of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. There is some fantastic free camping right at the beginning of the road, too, which makes for a great base camp while you explore the area. Here’s where you can find that camping.
Hole in the Rock from Escalante Utah to Peek-a-boo Gulch Parking Area.
IS HOLE IN THE ROCK A 4X4 ROAD?
Eventually, yes… but the trailhead you are headed to isn’t.
The road in is INCREDIBLY rough. It’s a VERY washboarded road. If you are looking for a nice, leisurely drive, this isn’t it. There’s no hazard, really, of getting stuck or anything, but it’s just simply rough.
The one mile stretch of road from the Peek-a-boo Gulch Parking Area to the Dry Fork Trailhead where the actual hiking trail starts is borderline 4×4 required.
Our Recommendation: Park at the Peek-a-boo gulch parking area and walk up the road to the Dry Fork Trailhead unless you are driving at LEAST:
- 4×4 Truck (stock height is likely fine)
- 2 wheel drive Truck (if it’s got a mild lift with, perhaps at least 31″ tires
High Top 4×4 Sprinter/Transit/Promaster? Probably park and walk. The trail is SUPER off-camber and the roll-over hazard isn’t particularly high, but will be unsettling for someone un-experienced-untrained with off road travel. Also, there is a pretty sizeable ledge that will give most vans issue when coming down in regards to departure angle.
HIKING PEEK-A-BOO & SPOOKY GULCH SLOT CANYONS
Hiking Peek-a-Boo and Spooky slot canyons is basically a loop between the two canyons. You come to Peek-a-Boo first, hike up that canyon, and then take a short trail that connects to the top of Spooky to hike down that canyon. Once you reach the bottom of Spooky, a trail then takes you back up to the entrance.
However, if you want to add a bit to your adventure, you can simply turn around and reverse the trail when you get to the bottom of Spooky. With plenty of daylight left, we opted to do this. We certainly weren’t ready to call it quits yet!
PEEK-A-BOOK OR SPOOKY FIRST?
Coming the reverse way (going up Spooky and then down Peek-a-boo) posed different challenges. There is a large chalkstone in the middle of Spooky Canyon which you downclimb if you are coming down from the top. Going reverse and coming up the canyon, you must scramble up the obstacle instead. It isn’t a tough scramble, but definitely a difference in the reverse direction!
While we both enjoyed going through Peek-a-Boo and Spooky slot canyons in both directions, it was interesting that Nate prefered going up both of them, while I prefered going up Peek-a-Book and down Spooky. Either way, we had a blast and still can’t wait to do it again.
PEEK-A-BOO AND SPOOKY GULCH PICTURES
The textures of the walls are our favorite part of the canyons. There is nowhere else we’ve been where you can find these kinds of lights and shadows.
Although this canyon doesn’t require any technical rope skills, there are a few spots where some mildly exposed scrambling is necessary. The canyons DO get pretty tight, but are passable.
The light in these canyons are a photographers dream. Unlike Antelope Canyon, this canyon is free to enter with no tour-guide necessary.
As you make the short hike from one canyon to the next, keep an eye out for lizards.
EXPERIENCING SLOT CANYONS
The first time we ever hiked slot canyons were in these two canyons. I had felt an awe that pushed me forward, almost unable to take in everything for want of seeing what was around the next corner.
I remembered that feeling as I climbed the first wall into Peek-a-Boo, and the sandstone felt familiar on my hands. The grippy sandstone made it simple to scale up that first wall, and I turned to grab packs from Nate while he climbed up behind me. From there, we took our time exploring and taking in the beauty surrounding us as we made our way through both canyons.