Water Holes Canyon is a slot canyon just south of Page, Arizona. It empties into the Colorado River from the east, just below Glen Canyon Dam. Like Antelope Canyon, Water Holes is on Navajo land and requires permission to access.
As you head south from Page, the state highway crosses on a bridge high over this canyon, and it’s from this bridge that you access it. From this point, the upper stretch of the canyon is more of a cool hike than anything. There are no pools or standing water, and the short steps up the sandstone pour-overs are made passable with the help of a few metal ladders. It’s fun and photogenic.
The lower section of Water Holes Canyon is more technically challenging. There are multiple rappels including one that is about 80 feet in length. We were there after a considerable stretch of dry weather yet we still found ourselves in some mud and standing water, most of which was foul. Thankfully it never got above our thigh. Earlier in the season it would have likely been more wet.
After about seven rappels there’s a steep climb up the sandstone to exit the canyon. If you go further down than that, the slot drops to the Colorado River on what is reported to be a 100+ meter rappel. We definitely didn’t care to take that on. Even if we had ropes that were long enough it would have put us down at the river and we would have had no way to get home.
So we climbed up and out of the canyon before the long rappel and walked back to the bridge and called it good. Water Holes Canyon is a good one. Hike the upper part for an easy desert outing, or grab the ropes and helmets and take on the lower section. Either way, get permission, do your homework beforehand, and definitely stay away if there’s any chance of weather.