Q. Playin’ the Slots

In the Southwest, total opposites can be juxtaposed against each other. Consider the extremes of the gambling-entertainment capitol Las Vegas versus the natural beauty of the surrounding landscapes, such as in Zion National Park, Utah. With respect to slots, surprising, but factual observations can be made for these two extremes. Many think of Las Vegas as the place for slots. However, it can be said that the city of Las Vegas has no “slots”, while Zion Gorge has one of the largest “slots” (“the narrows”) in the Southwest.

How can this be?


Four Queens Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada 1-79(?); Photo credit: Matthew C. McKeown. The scene from a checkered past: yours truly is on the right in the hat and sun glasses, during his “Diamond Dave” days on the Strip, unsuccessfully looking for “slots”. Years later, the “slots” were found, but without the bright lights. This image was taken at midnight in ambient light.


The “slots” shown on this page are slot canyons, which are curious formations where deep narrow canyons are carved into the surrounding rock (usually sandstone). Many of these canyons can be so narrow and deep, that hiking into them is like exploring a cave and can be an exercise in controlling claustrophobia. Many slots in the Southwest are found in the Colorado Plateau areas of northern Arizona and southern Utah. At times, rock textures, shapes, and color combinations found on the walls in these canyons are nature’s artistic handiwork.


High Spur Slot 177-13; west of Canyonlands National Park, Utah.




High Spur Slot 151-13: west of Canyonlands National Park, Utah.

Zebra slot (images below) has few flat surfaces on its canyon floor. Simple walking or positioning a tripod can be a challenge.

Zebra Slot 80-10. Yours truly (a few years later) in Zebra Slot Canyon, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, Utah.



Buckskin Gulch 22-95: Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, Arizona.



Zebra Slot 42-10: Zebra Slot Canyon, Utah.




Zebra Slot 32-11: Zebra Slot Canyon, Utah.


Willis Slot 3-02: Willis Creek, Escalante Grand Staircase, National Monument, Utah.


Willis Slot 37-02: Willis Creek, Escalante Grand Staircase, National Monument, Utah.


Peek-A-Boo 31-11: Double arch in Peek-a-boo slot, Utah.



Canyon X 34-04; Canyon X near Page, Arizona.