Hike through Upper Waterholes Canyon

Details

Distance

1.5 miles

Elevation Gain

300 ft

Route Type

Out-and-Back

Added by Josiah Roe

Stunning beams of light, corkscrews, multi-colored sandstone and stunning rock formations all without the crowds of the more well-known and popular Antelope Canyons.

Waterholes Canyon is a gorgeous slot canyon located just south of Page, Arizona that empties into Glen Canyon. The Upper Part of the Canyon is an easy, largely non-technical section that is easily accessed from Highway 89 and a clear parking turnoff on the left side of the road if you're heading South, just past Horseshoe Bend and just before the bridge over the canyon.

The Upper Canyon is on Navajo Land, while the middle and lower sections, which are technical in nature, are part of the Glenn Canyon Recreation Area. Be sure to pick up a permit to access the Upper Canyon from any of the numerous tour companies in Page for a low fee.

From the parking area, head east along the side of the canyon, following the cairns and make your way down into the canyon. From here you can follow the canyon as it winds its way east, eventually going underneath a set of powerlines and passing into the "Secret Canyon" where a ladder is bolted into the path allowing access out into the wash and out of the canyon.

On your way out instead of heading back out the exact what you came, about a quarter mile back at coordinates 36.833163, -111.501756 head right up the wall (there will be cairns) and check out "The Great Wall", a gorgeous series of ross-bedded sandstone outcrops above the canyon that almost look like The Wave.

Like any slot canyon, be careful to check the weather to avoid flash floods, which can occur even if the rain is many miles away and upstream. 

Depending on time of day the colors of the rocks can vary greatly, and even in the afternoon the steep canyon walls can require a tripod for longer exposures to get the light you want. 

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Know for

Fitness
Chillin
Photography
Hiking
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Romantic
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

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Reviews

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Beautiful Slot Canyon

Waterholes canyon is a slot canyon outside of Page, AZ. This canyon is gaining in popularity and now requires a guided. I had the luxury of exploring this canyon on my own with just a permit before guides were required. It was a beautiful and fun canyon to explore.

Would Love To See It

Just an update that you can no longer (as of 5/6/18) hike this canyon on your own with a permit. The Navajo who own the land have decided to turn this canyon into a guided tour like many of the other canyons in the area, and tours will be starting soon for $35 per person.

Trailblazer

about 3 years ago

Best way to avoid the crowds!

Really enjoyed this hike! It was super close to Horseshoe Bend. The trail was fairly well marked, but most importantly we only saw a handful of people when we were there. We took our time and plenty of pictures, but still took only about 3 hours. It was much cheaper and much less crowded than trying to explore Antelope Canyon.

Slots o fun

I enjoyed exploring these with my wife. We obtained our $12 permits from Tribal Parks Office next to the Leche-e Chapter House (open on weekdays). We saw some trash and graffiti in the slots. Please respect these places and leave no trace.

Water Holes FTW

Water Holes Canyon was epic. It was a little tricky finding the permit to hike, but after finally figuring out that I needed to purchase the 12 dollar permit at horseshoe bend slot canyon tours I was on my way. The best time for me was right around noon for great light beams. I went on a Monday morning and didn't see one single person during the 3 hours I spent there. Needless to say if you don't wanna wait around for a tour guide and then walk through slot canyons shoulder to shoulder with other people....go to Water Holes. You won't be disappointed.

373 total saves

4.8/5

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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