Top New Mexico Technical Slot Canyons To Canyoneer
New Mexico is a land of enchantment steeped in history with vast underground canyons, glittering deserts, and towering stone towers.
Although canyoneering is growing in popularity in New Mexico, the slot canyons in this state are still pristine. They are virtually crowd-free and canyoneers will be delighted to find they won’t have to jostle with crowds of hikers and other visitors.
A word of warning though- never enter a slot canyon when it rains because of flash floods, one of the inherent hazards of canyoneering. As a responsible canyoneer, never allow any of your crew members to do it either.
Slot Canyons Worth Checking Out In New Mexico
With dry falls, 5-7 tough rappels and downclimbs, this canyon isn’t for the faint of heart hence the 3A III rating. The canyon is divided into 3 smaller ones- Little Deadman, Middle Deadman, and Deadman Canyon, all accessible from the Chupadero Area or from Deadman Peak. Keep in mind that the canyon is in a remote area in mountain lion country so watch out for the big cats and don’t trespass into private land.
This is arguably one of the most beautiful and popular canyons in New Mexico. It’s a national monument that can be visited throughout the year but be especially cautious during the rainy season. This canyon is simple to navigate hence the 1 A I rating and is more suitable for a scenic trip for canyoneers looking for a good warm-up.
Chavez Canyon is carved into the sandstone of Mesa de Viejas, deep in the heart of Georgia O’Keefe County. It’s accessible all year round but canyoneers should watch for flash floods during the months of July and August. Hiking just the dry falls will take you a couple of hours. However, canyoneers looking for more of a challenge can climb the wall of the dry falls. For the latter option, you’ll need the right canyoneering gear and technical knowledge.
Canyoneers looking for a canyon with breathtaking natural beauty should head for Walatowa Canyon with its reddish sandstone walls interspersed with purple hues. The canyon has a 3 A II rating and requires a bit of rough hiking, scrambling and rappelling. It’s open to the public although a $5 permit is required and can be obtained from the Walatowa Visitor Center. Remember this canyon is on private land so practice responsible canyoneering.
Only experienced canyoneers should attempt to descend this canyon. The 3 A III rating is well earned and those who get to the technical midsection of the canyon will understand why. If you know what you’re doing, you can navigate all the way from the top to the bottom of a two-tiered 40ft high waterfall. This canyon is best visited during the drier months of the year such as May and June then from September to November.