From California to the U.K. in 30 days - Day 11 (Peekaboo Slot Canyon ATV Ride)

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July 27th 2017
Published: July 27th 2017
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I’ve been hankering to do an ATV tour since we were in West Yellowstone. The four seaters are strategically placed on prominent street corners in order to lure unwitting tourists such as myself. In West Yellowstone, they only rented the four seaters for a full day, more than we were willing to tackle, and in Moab we didn’t really have time to look into it. I see a bright yellow Can-Am in Kanab and check the website. They offer a half day excursion including a tour of a slot canyon which sounds perfect.

The hotel provides complimentary hot breakfast each morning which is a nice bonus. After loading up, we head over to the Kanab Tour Company to try our luck. They are just opening at 9am and as luck would have it, their morning tour has been cancelled so they have time to take us right there and then. The kids are very excited as am I, Antonio a little less enthusiastic. Our tour guide is named Ben, a kindly gentleman in his 60s who is very patient and extremely knowledgeable about the area. He has lived in Southern Utah for two-thirds of his life, and with his weather-beaten face, slow deliberate manner, and white beard, he reminds me of a sea-captain. He unloads the two ATVs and we transfer car seats into ours. Instructions are minimal, it’s an automatic and we set off onto a sandy trail following Ben’s ATV. He takes it slow at first, checking to see how fast we want to take it, and after a few minutes he stops to inquire if the kids are ready for something a little more challenging. They are! The trails are deep coral pink sand and very hilly. We pop the ATV into four-wheel drive and hit it. I am having a blast! Ben puts the pedal to metal and I do my best to keep up. Driving through deep sand reminds me a little of driving on snow. We drift, spin and roar up and down hills. I keep looking back to make sure I am not scaring AJ and Gracie but they are loving every second of it. A particularly vigorous corner and we are all tasting a little sand. It looks much better than it tastes FYI. Before long Ben leads us into a dry stream bed which we follow for about a mile or so until it ends at the slot canyon. Peekaboo slot canyon is famous among locals, but far enough off the beaten trail not to attract a crowd. There is one other vehicle there but otherwise we feel wonderfully secluded. The slot canyon is magnificent! The walls curve in the most incredible ways and the light is extraordinary. Pinks, and oranges with swirls running every which way. The floor is made of coral pink sand and when you touch the walls, more sand rubs off. Ben explains that the sand on the walls is washing down from the desert above. The canyon shows signs of recent water flow, but is bone dry now. Ben explains that every time there is a flash flood, the floor of the canyon either lowers or raises depending on the severity. We can see from the water line and debris marks that the most recently flow was only about six inches. In places, we can see log jams and piles of sticks almost 10 feet up indicating much more dramatic rain events. The first section of the canyon opens up and about 200 yards up it narrows again into another slot. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before. At one point, Ben indicates a series of hand-holds carved into the wall that lead up to a ledge. Most likely they were carved there by the Native Americans who liked to store their grains up away from animals. It’s amazing to think this site has been enjoyed for hundreds or even thousands of years. We make it to the end and reverse our course. The canyon appears completely different as we face the other way; the light appearing to bend in the strange waves of the rock. I snap picture after picture as each curve is both unique and beautiful. As we reach the ATVs Ben takes us up a side canyon to see a rock formation that is quite odd. Standing tall like a curved pillar in the middle of a bowl-shaped valley. Hard to imagine how it came to be.

It’s time to return and Ben suggests we take a more fun route back. I offer the keys to Antonio but he declines. I’m not sure if he really doesn’t want to, or if he just wants me to enjoy it. Probably a little of both. We’re off and the next 30 minutes are a blur of sandy trails, sharps corners, dips and rises. Ben shows no mercy and we fly through the trails. By the time we make it back to the parking lot we are all covered in a fine layer of pink sand, and Antonio is looking a little green around the gills. We thank Ben profusely for a very enjoyable morning and head back into town for some lunch.

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