Waterholes Canyon is a slot canyon just south of Page. Its one of the last tributaries to lower Glen Canyon before the Colorado River emerges at Lee's Ferry to enter Marble Canyon. Waterholes is not as famous as nearby Antelope Canyon, nor is it as deep. It shares many characteristics with another nearby tributary to the lower Glen, Nine Mile Draw. There are actually two portions to Waterholes Canyon, and they are divided between Upper and Lower at the point where the highway bridge for US89 crosses the canyon. Recently the Navajo Nation has closed the lower section of Waterholes Canyon to hikers. Fortunately the upper section is still open to hiking. Since it is on Navajo land, you'll need to get a hiking permit from either the LeChee chapter house (Mon-Fri, business hours only) or from the Antelope Canyon entrance station. The permit is $5/person/day.
The hike begins at the trailhead just north of the highway bridge over Waterholes Canyon, on the east side of the road. There is a gate and a hiker's maze that mark the highway right-of-way boundary. Once through the hiker's maze, there is a well-worn and obvious path leading towards the right and the canyon rim. This leads into a small draw that is easily descended. At one point you will reach a seeming impasse, with a cliff on the right and a boulder-jam on the right. Climb over the boulders, which is very easy, and the slope leads into another steep draw which will take you right to the floor of Waterholes Canyon. Downstream you can see the highway bridge, while upstream are alternating narrows and broader canyon bottoms.
The hike itself is not very hard or difficult to follow. The stream bed is the trail, though there are a few side canyons that are neat, narrow, and worth checking out. Hike upstream as far as you'd like, though the farther upstream you go, the narrower and more convoluted you'll find the canyon to be. After a rainstorm, there can be pools of water for several weeks afterwards. These can range from pretty distractions to major obstacles, especially in the upper canyon, so be prepared. NEVER enter a slot canyon when it may rain in the area - slot canyons can quickly become death traps with no place to escape.
Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.
To canyon trip From Page, drive several miles south to the Waterholes Canyon bridge (signed). Pull off on the east side of the highway by a signed gate warning against hiking without a valid permit. The hiker's maze and trailhead are just south of the gate on the fenceline.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.
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