So you like 'em skinny, eh?Spend some time in North Wash, and you'll get a plentiful dose of skinny canyons. Some people refer to any canyon who's bottom is less than your arm-span as a slot. What do you call a canyon that is not as wide as your arm?
Minislot Guide to the Colorado Plateau, Dave PimentalDave Pimental also has a fantastic Minislot Guide for this area.
North Wash has a two-lane highway running through it, and qualifies as the middle of nowhere, with good access. Hanksville is 26 miles to the north, and has a couple of gas stations, a couple of motels, and a few non-gourmet restaurants.
CampingThere is a nice primitive (meaning no bathroom, no water, and free) campsite between the mouth of Leprechaun and the mouth of Sandthrax. Please help keep it nice. Don't drive on the vegetation - stay on the established roads. Please camp in places that have already been mooshed by previous campers rather than making new tent site. Bring your own firewood rather than collecting the little brush that is out there.
Don't crap in camp! (Yes, that means you!)
Either take the short drive to the Hog Spring vault toilet, or... well, take the short drive to the Hog Springs vault toilet, or bring your own toilet (or use a bag).
Bathrooms: There's a vault toilet down at the Hog Spring picnic area, 5 miles south down the highway. Well worth the short drive.
Water, Store, Phone, Ice, Rescue Services: all available in Hanksville.
North Wash is one of Utah's more adult canyoneering areas. Self-reliance is the name of the game, which makes this a poor place for beginners to hone their skills. Visit with a North Wash veteran, and work your way into the harder slots. In the last couple of years, two parties have been lucky to escape with their lives when they under-respected the canyons of North Wash.
Please practice a No Bolt Ethic when visiting North Wash. The area yields easily to natural-anchor techniques, though this may mean using deadmen, cairns, carefully-placed chockstones or other advanced techniques. Bring some webbing, and welcome the challenge of playing by natural-anchor rules. ALL the canyons in the area have been descended, so please figure out a natural-anchor solution as your predecessors did, before reaching for the drill. Management-wise, most of the North Wash canyons and drainages are within the BLM, manager from the Richfield regional office and a field office in Hanksville. Canyoneering is still slightly new here and there are not strict rules for group size, permits or campsite use…yet. Practice minimal impact skills and respect the canyons to keep this area pristine and wild. There are endangered Mexican Spotted Owls nesting in some canyons, so please be cautious and respect wildlife. Like everywhere in Southern Utah, it's not uncommon to find archaeological or rock art sites; as always, keep you impact minimal when taking in these historical sites. There's a saying among through-hikers on the Appalacian Trail--Hike Your Own Hike--It applies here. Some people really like this stuff, some people don't. Being small helps. Being fit helps. Being into it helps. Being able to ignore pain helps a lot. Having the appropriate techniques and travelling with the right people helps an awful lot. How big are you? I am 5'10" tall, 170-180 lbs, HWP, chest about 42. My descriptions are written from MY point of view. If you are bigger than me, you will have to work harder than me to get through or over stuff. In some places, a LOT harder. There are places where the width of the canyon does not increase going up, therefore, if you don't fit through, you are going back. The route Shenanigans in particular does not allow chimneying over. The canyon is 12" wide for at least 80 feet upward. I sure hope that bit of sand in the bottom does not wash out, 'cause that thing'd be a bear without that sand there forming a floor. So be careful, and make your own decisions. If the canyon does not match my description - GET OUT! Keep track of places you can exit the canyon. Other people in your party might be having an entirely different experience--Squeeze Your Own Slot.
Fall, Winter and Spring are the best times for exploring North Wash. Just too darn hot in the summer. March, April, October and November are usually good times, and sunny days in the winter can be very nice indeed. North Wash sits in the rain shadow of the Henries, and often has the best weather in the area. It is also low in altitude. That said, being caught in a rainstorm in a North Wash canyon would not be very pleasant.
Though there are year-round pools in a few canyons, in general these canyons dry out quickly. One advantage of visting in chilly weather is the opportunity to wear more clothes that both keep you comfortably warm and provide protection from abrasion.