Canyons are inherently risky. Flash floods occur without notice on sunny days. Technical skills & surrounding topography knowledge required yet does not eliminate risk.
BLM Grand Staircase Data: Description: From the trail head, descend 200-300 feet along a cairned trail to the wide, sandy drainage of Dry Fork Coyote Gulch. Beyond this point, the route is not marked. Pay attention to landmarks so you can find your way back out. This route provides access to narrow side canyons with convoluted walls and superb slots. Four canyons can be explored from this trail head. For more information, detailed maps, and current conditions contact the nearest GSENM visitor center.
Dry Fork: Once you reach the canyon bottom, notice a narrow opening in the canyon wall upstream to your left. This is the Dry Fork narrows. Though not a tight slot canyon, it is possible to wander up this beautiful, narrow canyon and dry wash bottom for several miles.
Peek-A-Boo: When you reach the canyon bottom, head downstream (right) a short distance to Peek-A-Boo. It is the first side canyon coming in on the left. Peek-A-Boo is a hanging canyon with an oval-shaped opening topped by an arch. The opening is located about 12 feet up on the wall and is easy to walk past if you are not paying attention. Small hand and foot holds carved into the wall will help you climb up into the opening. There is often a pool of water at the base of the wall and another at the top. Peek-A-Boo is a beautiful, sculptured slot. It runs for approximately 0.25 miles before ending in a wide, sandy wash. When you reach this point, turn around and retrace your steps through the slot to the main canyon.
Spooky: After Peek-A-Boo, continue downstream in Dry Fork Coyote Gulch approximately 0.5 mile to the next drainage entering on your left. Along the way, you will pass a large sand dune on your left. Spooky Gulch will enter soon after this landmark and will be a wide, sandy wash. Walk up the wash for about 0.25 mile. The wash will eventually funnel you right into the slot. Many will find themselves unable to negotiate the entire length of the 0.3 mile long slot due to its tight and constricted nature. There is a difficult chock stone near the upper end of Spooky. like Peek-A-Boo, Spooky ends in a wide, sandy wash. Turn around at this point and return to the main canyon through the slot.
Brimstone: After Spooky, continue downstream in Dry Fork Coyote Gulch. After approximately 0.5 mile, you will pass through a section of narrows where a large chock stone is jammed between the canyon walls. It is difficult to negotiate this obstacle, and once down it, many will find that they are unable to climb back up. (It is possible to exit the canyon just down stream and around the bend. Exit on the west (right) side of the canyon along an old trail and then hike cross country along the canyon rim to the parking area) Continue down canyon approximately 0.5 mile. The next big drainage coming in from the east (left) is Brimstone. The canyon will be wide and sandy for about 1.0 mile before reaching the slot. This slot is short and eventually becomes impassible. Often deep pools are encountered. Caution! If you attempt to negotiate the upper portions of Brimstone Canyon, there are numerous pour offs that can be down-climbed but are impossible to climb back out of without climbing gear. Be cautious not to jump down any pour offs you are absolutely sure you can climb back up! A hiker was stranded in Brimstone Canyon for 8 days after jumping down a pour off that he could not climb back up. Eventually Brimstone becomes too narrow to physically squeeze through and you could become trapped. It is impossible to negotiate the entire length of the canyon.
Type of Trip: Best done as a day hike.
Mileage: 1.0 mile to over 12.0 miles round trip, depending on which slots are explored.
Trailhead Locations: From Hwy 12, drive 26 miles south on the Hole-in-the-Rock Road (200) to the signed Dry Fork Road (252). Take the Dry Fork Road 1.7 miles to the trail head parking area; stay left at all road junctions.
Water Availability/Hiking in Water: Water is scarce. Plan on carrying all the water you will need. Deep pools and mud may be encountered in the slots during spring or after flash floods.
Obstacles/Technical Features: Climbing and stemming are required to negotiate pour offs and chock stones. You must wiggle and squeeze sideways through extremely tight sections while both the front and back of your body brush across the sandstone walls. Deep pools may require wading through water or mud. Carrying large packs or excessive amounts of gear into the slots should be avoided due to the difficult nature of the obstacles encountered and the tightness of the slots.
Safety Concerns: These are unmarked routes. Hikers must pay attention to landmarks so they can find their way back out. Hiking cross country from one slot canyon to another to make a loop is not recommended. Many who attempt to do this often become lost or disoriented. Never climb or jump down a pour off unless you are certain you can climb back out. Obstacles are tricky to negotiate, and could pose a falling hazard to the unprepared or inexperienced. Flash floods are extremely dangerous in these narrow canyons, and hikers must be very cautious if hiking here during flash flood season. These are not good canyons to explore if one suffers from claustrophobia. Heat exposure and lack of water are safety concerns. Heat-related injuries and dehydration could be potential problems. Hikers must carry adequate water. Midget-faded rattlesnakes are often seen in the slots. Due to increased visitation, extremely narrow passages, and numerous pour offs that must be negotiated, dogs are not permitted in the slot canyons.
Maps: USGS 7.5 minute quads: Big Hollow Wash
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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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