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A slot canyon is a narrow canyon, formed by the wear of water rushing through rock. A slot canyon is significantly deeper than it is wide. Some slot canyons can measure less than one metre (3 ft) across at the top but drop more than 30 m (100 ft) to the floor of the canyon.

Most slot canyons are formed in sandstone and limestone rock, although slot canyons in other rock types such as granite and basalt are possible. Even in sandstone and limestone, only a very small number of creek will form slot canyons. This is due to a combination of the particular characteristics of the rock, and regional rainfall.

Slot canyons around the world

Slot canyons are found in many parts of the world, predominantly in areas with low rainfall. Some of the most well known slot canyons are to be found in the southwest of the USAmarker. Other significant areas include the Sierra de Guara in northern Spainmarker, the Pyreneesmarker on the border of Francemarker and Spain, and the Blue Mountainsmarker in New South Walesmarker, Australia.



Australia

The largest known area of slot canyons in Australia is in the Blue Mountainsmarker, west of Sydneymarker. They occur in a narrow band of sandstone that runs roughly 30 km (19 mi) from east to west, and about 100 km (62 mi) from south to north. The majority of these canyons are in the Wollemi Wildernessmarker, and are difficult to access. A small number are regularly visited by canyoners on weekends in summer. The Grand Canyon, near Blackheath, has a tourist track along its rim, but requires abseiling (rappelling) or swimming to visit fully.

Sandstone slot canyons can also be found in a few more remote parts of Australia, including:

Jordan

The Siq in Petramarker, Jordanmarker is a famous slot canyon. It was a location in the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

USA

The U.S. state of Utahmarker has the largest concentration of slot canyons in the world . Antelope Canyonmarker, one of the most famous, is located in Arizonamarker near Pagemarker, on the Navajo reservation. There are also numerous slot canyons in the valley between US Route 89 and the Vermilion Cliffs in Arizona, and can be seen as one descends into the valley on US 89, but these are also on the Navajo reservation and are closed to the public. Several canyons accessible to the public are within Zion National Parkmarker and Death Valley National Parkmarker.

Drowning danger

Distant storms can cause dangerous flash flooding in slot canyons, and several professionals advise avoiding hiking in them if there is any sign of rain. In September 2008 a couple drowned in Utah, and in 2005 a group of students in a nearby location also drowned, despite wearing wetsuits . In many slot canyons, it can be miles before a safe exit or rescue is possible.

References

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