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Why Everyone Loves Slot Canyons

Why Everyone Loves Slot Canyons

Slot canyons can be found all around the world. These narrow canyons can be made of sandstone, ice, granite, clay, or other naturally occurring materials. Some of these canyons can be rather large in both width and depth, while other canyons can be incredibly narrow and difficult to navigate

It's not any real secret, slot canyons are fascinating to such a vast number people these days that the popularity of these narrow geological features is growing. The reason why everyone loves slot canyons is that these places are incredibly, and intrinsically, unique. Every single canyon has its own look, its own coloration, and its own collection of fascinating views. You might ask, "Isn't it just about standing in the middle of this super narrow canyon and taking a picture?" Well yes, and no. Just because there's not a lot of room for maneuvering in a slot canyon doesn't mean that setting up your composition is work that is already done for you. With slot canyons, even the small adjustments to compositions can have a dramatic effect and change for the overall image.

The Narrows, Zion National Park

The Narrows, Zion National Park

Realistically, the fact that there is much less room to move creates a unique opportunity in and of itself. The thought process behind compositions really becomes something else because the innate question is always how do you capture the same subject, in a similar location, as every other photographer who has been there before you? Fortunately, you have some incredible forces on your side. The time of the year plays a big part into how your pictures look. The sunlight comes in from different directions based on the time of year and time of day in which you are visiting the canyon. Both of those factors will play a significant part in how your scene unfolds and what options you have for maximizing your position and the available light.

Slot canyons are fascinating no matter what time of day you visit, no matter what day in the year, and regardless of whether you brought a camera with you. Being in a place that is so unique, so large, yet so narrow is just an incredible experience. Looking hundreds of feet up towards the tops of the canyon walls yet still being able to reach your arms out and touch the sides of both walls is just a uniquely fascinating experience. The only piece of advice for anyone looking to go adventure in a slot canyon, particularly if your goal is to go home with some cool images from the experience is simply to take your time. Well, the other piece of advice is to always be safe out there, know your exit routes and pay attention to the weather, no need to die in a flash flood if at all possible. Around every corner is a brand new view, a brand new opportunity, and a different set of lighting circumstances that will probably change in less than five minutes. 

Peekaboo Canyon, Kanab, Utah

Peekaboo Canyon, Kanab, Utah

There are so many canyons out there, that even though I have been through quite a lot now, I'm always looking for the next one to explore. So which ones are your favorites? Make sure to comment below and let us know which ones we should add to the to-do list.
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7 Comments

Mickaël Dardaillon's picture

To state the obvious, I would recall Antelope Canyon. No matter how many people there are, and there are many, this canyon is a beauty. As for Peekaboo and Spooky, those are remote, rewarding natural beauties after the strenuous walk, a great experience.

I didn't get the chance to hike the Narrows due to high water. I had a good time in Kanarra Creek Canyon, a much smaller, intimate Canyon with running water and sheer walls surrounding us. We crossed quite a few families exploring as well, which gives it a lively atmosphere.

Rex Jones's picture

I love Kanarraville Falls! That’s a gorgeous shot, my friend!

Ralph Hightower's picture

Photographing a slot canyon is on my bucket list. I saw a presentation that included photographs of slot canyons in 2012. In 2012, I was shooting B&W film exclusively, and the patterns on the canyon walls looked like they would be great in B&W.

Rex Jones's picture

Ralph, if you ever plan a trip out to Southern Utah, let me know, I’ll personally take you through several of my favorite canyons out here.

Gerald Perkins's picture

I will be at Capital Reef NP for a week in September. Do you have any (dry) recommendations? Thanks

Rex Jones's picture

I'd be happy to send you a list of my favorites, though to be fair, most of them will necessitate a bit of a drive from Capital Reef, if you're fine with that.