Slot Canyons and Sand Dunes – Outsiders Part 3

Perching in the Slot by David Scott.

I had set myself the goal of visiting at least one slot canyon on this trip. I started out with the idea of going to the Wire Pass Trail which would take us in to Buckskin Gulch. Buckskin Gulch claims the title of world’s longest slot canyon at 31 miles.

As our ride is an unmodified Prius, Liddy and I were discouraged from driving the eight and a half miles down House Rock Valley Road. The locals were saying the road was a bit rough for a low-slung street vehicle. As I did want to make it home without trashing the Princess, we chose another location.

Diana’s Throne Slot Canyon

Now this trail is not really a hiking trail as much as a climbing adventure, but I decided it would be a good place to get an idea about these slot canyons. All Trails makes this quite clear. The reviews however suggest the entrance on the north end of the Elkhart Cliffs Slot Canyon was easy.

To get down to the slot, you must follow a sandy ridge looking down into the canyon. I was not looking forward to the steep climb out.

The entrance is like something out of the movies where the treasure awaits behind the gold pillars. Everything was glowing in the noon sun – glad it was April.

Unless you plan to do the rock-climbing bit – Liddy and I weren’t up for that – this slot is quite short. There are a one or two other slots that we visited, but the main Elkhart canyon was the prettiest. One learning from this visit that probably applies to all slot canyons is to time your visit with the sun and the directions of the openings. You will want to maximize the way the light reflects off the walls down into the canyon. You will get your best photos this way.

Also – check the weather when exploring these canyons. There is absolutely no way out other than the way you came in. If there is a storm upstream from your location, you could be in for a world of hurt.

The Climb Out

I love my dog. She is a wonderful companion but… She does know how to let you know just how out of shape you really are…

As I was struggling up the sandy path, she would trot up ahead and find a patch of shade in which to wait for me. Just look at the grin on that face.

The canyon is below the Elkhorn Bluffs. There is a knoll to the south (right) which is on the map as Diana’s Throne. If you can’t find the place on Google Maps, try Elkhorn Bluffs.

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

South from the bluffs, a less travelled road leaves US 89. It takes you to the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. Long name for a pretty big sand box.

These dunes, except for a small reserve, are open to all Off Highway Vehicles (OHV). Judging by the tracks across some of them, there must be quite the traffic jam here on some days.

The sand really is a coral pink color, and the dunes are quite spectacular. Liddy and I took advantage of the campground for the night, so we were able to capture the dunes at sunset and sunrise.

If you go, you can rent sand boards at the park entrance. It’s like snowboarding, but you don’t get wet or cold. We didn’t partake, but we did watch others enjoy a moment of thrills and spills.


On the Map

This map shows the locations mentioned in this post. Click on a thumbnail to open the image in the lightbox.

At this time, these images will not display any metadata like the ones in the post above. Also, these images will be combined in the lightbox slideshow when you open it. (Just so you know)

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