Wire Pass Slot Canyon

Captured by: Matt Bell

Wire Pass is the entrance to Buckskin Gulch, the longest and deepest slot canyon in Utah. Slot canyons are known for their narrow passageways — Wire Pass is less than three feet wide in some areas — flanked by towering walls. Utah has the largest concentration of slot canyons in the world due to the large amount of sandstone and the particular rain patterns of the area. These narrow passageways form when flash floods carve notches into soft stone. The water flows through the notch, the flow becoming faster and stronger as it is forced through a small opening. Repeated floods create the dramatic, swirling patterns you see on the walls of the canyon as it is carved deeper. As slot canyons collect drainage from miles around, they can be very dangerous places to hike even when no rain is visible at the canyon. Wire Pass Trailhead is located in Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, famous for its remote wilderness and striking geology.

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