State Parks With Slot Canyons to Explore With Your Dog

Posted by Lauren Barker

Formed over millions of years by rushing water, slot canyons are some of the most unique geological formations in the world. Most commonly found in the southwestern United States, these incredible landscapes have become a popular destination for adventure seekers and photographers alike. If you want to experience the grandeur for yourself, bring Fido along to one of these pet-friendly state parks with slot canyons you can hike through.

If you choose to hike a slot canyon with your canine canyoneer be sure to pack your pup’s essentials including plenty of water and check the weather before setting out. In addition to experiencing excessive heat, slot canyons are prone to flash flooding even during brief rain showers and can be incredibly dangerous.

Valley of Fire State Park

Overton, NV
“Maybe you should go first.” Photo by BringFido/Lindsey

While just a short drive from the lights of Vegas, you and Fido will feel like you’re on another planet at Valley of Fire State Park in Overton, NV. This dog-friendly desert wonderland is home to a 1-mile loop that includes a spectacular slot canyon. White Domes Trail takes hikers through Kaolin Wash and past the remnants of the 1965 movie set for “The Professionals” before arriving at a narrow slot canyon. While not long in length the canyon boasts an array of colors along the walls and is a popular spot for snapping photos. Once out of the canyon, you’ll see the park’s famous White Domes, sandstone formations with beautiful contrasting colors. If you’re looking for more canyon adventures, take your pooch to Pastel Canyon, also known as Pink Canyon. This unmarked trail is less than a mile in length but provides visitors with an epic hike through slot canyon walls of pink sandstone.

Desert camp with your canine at Valley of Fire State Park Campground or head into Sin City and rest up at Vdara Hotel and Spa.

Goblin Valley State Park

Green River, UT
“You coming or not” Photo by @sadie.maes.adventures

Journey with Fido to the strange, colorful and dog-friendly Goblin Valley State Park in Green River, UT. This unique park is home to sandstone hoodoo formations known as goblins, which alone make the park worth visiting. If your pup is itching for adventure, bring him along to The Goblin’s Lair. This 2.3-mile out-and-back slot canyon hike requires agility from both humans and canines as some bouldering and rock scrambling is involved, but the final destination is worth the challenge. Remember to stop and look up from time to time to marvel at the sky and the light pouring in from 100 feet above the canyon floor and don’t forget your camera for your pooch’s new Instagram photo.

After his hike, Fido can bathe in the sun in the fenced backyard of this Green River cottage.

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Canyon, TX
“Where are these canyons?” Photo by David Haggard

Palo Duro Canyon State Park might feel a bit out of place for a state known for miles of flat ranch land and Hill Country, but the incredible geological formations are what make this pet-friendly state park so unique and worth a visit. Bring Fido along for a hike to Palo Duro’s Sunday Slot, a relatively unknown trail that traverses ten miles of backcountry, through sandy creek bottoms, alongside boulders, and eventually to one of the Lone Star State’s only slot canyons. Humans and canines who attempt this hike should be in top physical condition, able to scale a few rock formations, and good at map reading. Because this is not a highly publicized trail, you’ll want to speak with a park ranger ahead of time to plan your hike.

Keep your outdoor adventure going and set up camp with Fido at Palo Duro Canyon State Park Campground, or book a stay at the nearby Best Western Palo Duro Canyon Inn and Suites.

Providence Canyon State Park

Lumpkin, GA
“I don’t think we’re in Georgia anymore.” Photo by BringFido/Nicholas

The vast majority of slot canyons in the U.S. are located in the southwest, but Providence Canyon State Park in Lumpkin, GA is a rare exception. Bring Fido along to one of the best pet-friendly state parks on the east coast and you might feel like you’re on a western vacation. Known as Georgia’s Little Grand Canyon, the park is home to nine hikable ravines carved through the colorful clay by runoff water from poor farming practices in the 1800s. You and your pooch can take the 2.5-mile Canyon Loop Trail beginning at the visitor center and explore each of the nine gullies, some up to 150 feet deep. Once you reach canyons Four and Five, you’ll find two incredible slot canyons, an unusual sight for the eastern U.S.

Backpackers are welcome to stay overnight on the park’s backcountry trails, but you can also bring Fido to this Charming Country Home in Lumpkin, where you can keep warm together around the backyard fire pit.

Cathedral Gorge State Park

Panaca, NV
Photo by @bon_man

Narrow valleys with cave-like formations and cathedral-like spires formed over tens of millions of years await you and Fido at Cathedral Gorge State Park in Panaca, NV. This dog-friendly photographer’s paradise includes over five miles of trails through soft bentonite clay and unlike the other canyons on our list, those at Cathedral Gorge were formed by volcanic eruption rather than water. Take your leashed pup on a short hike to Moon Caves where you’ll find a maze of slot canyons to explore. Plan your visit for late afternoon or early evening when the sun hits the caves just right, illuminating the walls with a golden hue. If you’re up for more slot canyon exploring, keep the adventure going with another short hike to dog-friendly Cathedral Caves.

Camp among the spires at Cathedral Gorge State Park Campground, or venture 10 minutes up the highway to Pioche and relax in this one-bedroom home. You’ll also be near more dog-friendly trails at Echo Canyon State Park.

Fremont Indian State Park

Sevier, UT
Photo by @theadventureapparatus

Pitch a tent with your pup at one of the primitive sites of the Castle Rock campground inside Fremont Indian State Park in Sevier, UT and you’ll have easy access to stunning slot canyons just a short walk from your campsite. While there are no designated trails leading to the canyons, footpaths can be followed from both the east and west sides of the campground. Fido will be thrilled to join you on this short out-and-back hike between sandstone and siltstone towering walls. While visiting the park, take your pup on the Cave of 100 Hands or Newspaper Rock Viewpoint trails to spot ancient petroglyphs from the Fremont natives.

If your pooch isn’t up for camping, spend the night in one of the six Home Base Resort Cottages in nearby Joseph.

Big Bend Ranch State Park

Presidio, TX
Photo by @nickleec93_

While canines aren’t welcome on trails in Big Bend National Park, there’s a lesser-known, but equally fascinating option for four-legged hikers in Southwest Texas. Big Bend Ranch State Park welcomes dogs on two trails - Hoodoos and Closed Canyon. Travel 22 miles east of the park’s Barton Warnock Visitor Center and you’ll find the trailhead for Closed Canyon. This 1.4-mile out-and-back trail leads visitors between walls of a millions-of-years-old slot canyon that divides the Colorado Mesa in two. The walls of the canyon become more narrow the closer you get to the Rio Grande River and, while little sunlight reaches the canyon floor, plants like cacti and yellow trumpet flowers decorate the canyon walls. Wildlife like bats, javelina, mountain lions and rattlesnakes may be spotted near or in the canyon so always keep Fido on a six-foot leash and report mountain lion sightings to a ranger.

Pets are welcome at primitive campsites at Big Bend Ranch State Park Campground, but pups requiring creature comforts will prefer this ranch guesthouse in nearby Los Alamos Ranch instead.

Have you explored a slot canyon with your dog? Leave a comment or tweet us @BringFido!

Banner photo by BringFido.