New Trail Features Help Visitors Test Their Limits for Dry Fork Slot Canyons
The Bureau of Land Management’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument has had an increase in visitation over the years, and a popular location for visitors are the Dry Fork Slot Canyons (Peek-a-boo and Spooky Gulch) within the Scorpion Wilderness Study Area. The Dry Fork Slot Canyons offer incredible opportunities for exploration, adventures and discovery in southern Utah.
Spooky Gulch is an extremely narrow canyon, and there is an area that requires a steep downclimb off a boulder scramble. Last year, search and rescue calls were made by visitors who became lodged within the canyon and needed assistance to get out. The visitors were stuck in the canyon and could not go forward due to the narrowness of the canyon or backwards as it was a steep climb up the boulder face. The Kane County Search and Rescue Ropes Team responded to these incidents and safely removed the visitors from the canyon.
With the Dry Fork Slot Canyons being in a remote area, responding to rescues can take up to four hours. The Kane County Search and Rescue Ropes Team is an all-volunteer crew and performing rescues in this area can take close to eight hours or more to complete. This is also time that the volunteers spend away from their jobs, families, and other commitments to selflessly help others in need.
The Bureau of Land Management, in cooperation with the Kane County Search and Rescue Ropes Team, designed and installed preventative warning signs at the Upper and Lower Dry Fork Trailheads. The signs are mounted on structures illustrating the narrowness of the canyon and allow visitors to test their ability to pass through the narrow slot section. To help prevent the hazardous situation of being stuck in a narrow canyon, the new trailhead signs are a great resource for visitors to know their limits and reduce the chances of having a hazardous situation in the future for other visitors and rescuers.
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument appreciates and sincerely thanks the Kane County Search and Rescue volunteers in our local communities for their dedication, intensive training and response to those in crisis on public lands.
Responding to emergencies in remote locations on public lands can take time, so visitors should plan ahead and be well prepared for a safe outdoor recreational experience. When exploring slot canyons, always remember:
- Check the local weather forecast and be prepared for seasonal fluctuations. Look out for unexpected storms moving into the area because a narrow canyon during a thunderstorm or rainstorm can quickly fill up with water and debris. There are risks associated with exploring these natural features and conditions can rapidly change during weather events.
- Hike with someone or in group. Always let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.
- Know your limits and research the areas you are planning to visit.
Visit our Flash Flood: Tread Safely page for more tips to stay safe on your next adventure!