We moved further out on Hole-in-the-Rock Road and positioned ourselves for an early start for this trifecta of slot canyons. Peek-A-Boo and Spooky are probably the two most familiar and commonly hiked slots in the area, and for good reason.
The days (and nights) are warming up a bit from the cold spell we had. We rose out of the van around 7am and took are time, making a pot of percolated coffee and reviewing our notes and plans for the hike. By 8:20am we were on the trail. It starts with a short climb over a crest, revealing that we were on a rim overlooking the gulch into which the three slots enter. We believe this gulch is a tributary leading to Coyote Gulch which we’ll spend three days and two nights exploring starting tomorrow.
This was a shorter entry hike, less than 1.5 miles to reach Peek-A-Boo. The trail meanders along the edge of the rim traveling north, then drops down into the wash. You can see the entry to Peek-A-Boo in the photo above – it is the slot to the lower left rising out of the wash.
The entry to Peek-A-Boo is the toughest portion of that slot, requiring a scramble up 8-10 feet of slippery sandstone with minimal hand-holds available. I was able to climb up then give Julie a reassuring hand grip to help her with the last portion.
The slot was beautiful with its arches and colors. It was dry throughout our hike, presenting only a few challenging scrambles along the way. A young couple from Nashville joined us through both slots, benefiting from some of our experience and scouting ahead.
After exiting Peek-A-Boo we crossed over to the entry to Spooky, pretty much a due-east hike on a well marked trail. This slot we would take from the top down, and it has a conversely difficult entry with about a 10-12 foot drop from a pile of boulders gathered at the top of the slot. Julie did this same slot about 6 or 7 years ago and there was no rope assist to help with the descent. Thankfully we had it and it helped add some comfort as we wedged our way sidewise down to where we could take a step.
Spooky is narrow and gets darker than Peek-A-Boo because the top of the slot is much higher. Nothing came close to the entrance in terms of difficulty, though the combination of tight squeezes with 3-5 foot drops were challenging. All four of us are pretty skinny and we felt constrained at times.
Rather than just hike out to the rim after exiting Spooky we decided to go up the Dry Gulch, probably considered more a narrows than a slot. It was pleasantly rewarding, with different rock strata than in the other too; more chiseled and hard rather than the knobby, crumbly sandstone. We found an easy exit from these narrows and a path that took us back to the rim, then back to the parking lot.
The parking lot at the lower dry fork (and upper dry fork) is well developed now and easy to get to from the road. Plus there are pit toilets at both. Just a few years ago the road was apparently much rougher and there were no toilets.