The Zebra Slot Canyon is a stunning and unique geological feature located in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah. The canyon is known for its distinctive pink and white striped walls that resemble the stripes of a zebra, hence the name “Zebra Slot Canyon”.
What to Bring
- At least 1 gallon of water per person
- There is no shade on the trail, so sunscreen is a must.
- Wear hiking shoes, but bring water shoes with you. The slot canyon has water that you need to wade through.
Getting to the Zebra Slot Canyon Trailhead
Zebra Slot Canyon Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 37.639468, -111.445536
The trailhead is exactly 7.8 miles down Hole-in-the-Rock Road, coming from the town of Escalante. The trailhead will not be marked, so it’s best to reset your odometer when starting down Hole-in-the-Rock Road, so you’ll know when you’re getting close. The GPS coordinates I gave above will take you exactly to the trailhead. It will be immediately after you pass the third cattleguard on the road. There is a large sandy parking lot across the road from the trailhead.
It should be noted that Hole-in-the-Rock Road is not for the faint of heart. It is a dirt road that can become downright impassable after rains. However, most of the time in the summer it is dry. You can probably drive this road in a car, but an SUV is preferred, and one with 4×4 capabilities is more ideal.
The Zebra Slot Canyon Trail & Canyon
A few places online will tell you that this hike is easy. Well, let me tell you that the first part of the trail isn’t bad, but once you get close to the slot canyons it becomes increasingly more difficult. Its best to get up early and to begin this hike as early as you can. The sun gets hot, and there isn’t a lot of shade on the trail before the canyon. Bring lots of water with you.
|Distance:||5.2 miles (~7 miles if you include Tunnel Canyon)|
|Trail Type:||Out and Back|
|Elevation Gain:||300 ft|
|Time to Hike:||3-4 hours|
|Difficulty Level:||Varies… but closer to Difficult|
Expect this trail to be moderately busy during peak vacation days (Summer mornings). This is because while the trail is more difficult than most other slot canyons, it is by far the nicest of the bunch.
The trail is easy to follow and begins across the road from the parking area. It is flat and shadeless. After about 20 minutes of hiking, you’ll come across the gate in the picture below… go ahead and go through it.
About 2 miles into your walk, you’ll reach Halfway Hollow, which is at the beginning of the Harris Wash. This is the intersection where going right will take you to Tunnel Slot Canyon, and left will head towards the Zebra Slot Canyon. From this point in the hike, the Zebra Slot Canyon is about a half-mile away, while the less-spectacular Tunnel Canyon is just over 1 mile away.
The Harris Wash area is a wide sandy river basin that will likely be dry. Because of it’s size, staying on the trail from here can become increasingly difficult. The best way to describe the actual route to Zebra Canyon is to stay along the left side of the Harris Wash area for as long as possible.
After reaching the entrance to the Zebra Slot Canyon, you’ll notice the rocks turn from greyish-red to vibrant orange, pink, and white bands. You will now be inside the Zebra Slot Canyons. The canyon becomes extremely narrow and twisting after only about 100 yards. It is only 10 inches wide in some places. This will be the most challenging part of the hike.
Expect there to be standing water in the canyon. Occasionally, that water is chest-deep. Bringing water shoes with you would be a good idea. Some people wade through the water in their bare feet, but that’s not the best idea.
Other Nearby Slot Canyon Hikes
The Zebra Slot Canyon is a more adventurous alternative to the uber popular Antelope Canyon. While the Antelope Canyon is easy to get to, and has tours to take you inside, the Zebra Slot Canyon has none of that. However, there is a higher cost that comes with the ease of visiting Antelope Canyon. Zebra Canyon requires just a free park permit to visit, while the tours at Antelope cost upwards of $75-85 per person.
While there are other slot canyons inside Grand-Escalante, like Peek-a-boo (aka. Red Canyon), Spooky Gulch, and Tunnel, none are more photogenic than Zebra. The Peek-a-boo and Spooky slot canyons are next to each other and typically hiked together. The same goes for the Zebra and Tunnel slot canyons.
|Zebra Canyon||5.2 miles||Moderate||Free|
|Tunnel Canyon||5.2 miles||Moderate||Free|
|Spooky Canyon||4 miles||Moderate||Free|
|Peek-a-boo Canyon||4 miles||Moderate||Free|
|Antelope Canyon||< 1 mile||Easy||$75-85|