Slickrock Foot Trail – Canyonlands National Park

Author: Dan Brewer

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Located in the Needles district of Canyonlands National Park, the Slickrock Foot Trail is quite possibly the most fun hike we did during our month-long Utah road trip with kids.

This family-friendly hike in the Needles area of Canyonlands National Park explores the top of a V-shaped mesa. The Slickrock Foot Trail (also called the Slickrock Trail) offers incredible views in all directions, including snow-capped mountains, flat topped mesas and water carved canyons.

There are four official ‘viewpoints’ on the Slickrock Foot Trail, which is actually kind of silly given the scenery on nearly every second of this hike is epic.

If your kids love climbing on rocks, they will love the Slickrock hike! The trail leads hikers through a massive slickrock formation with all kinds of rock shapes for the kids to climb on and over. Kids will also enjoy finding the little lizards which seem to be sunbathing on rocks around every corner.

A sign for the Slickrock Trail in the needles district of canyonlands national park utah.

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Slickrock Foot Trail Highlights

As mentioned above, the Slickrock hiking trail itself is so much fun – it’s a natural jungle gym which kids of all ages will love.

While the kids will love the hiking trail, the parents will love the amazing views. The Slickrock Foot hike follows the outer edge of a mesa, providing incredible views in all directions of the natural beauty of Canyonlands National Park. We could see the Needles, the Island in the Sky, snow capped mountains in the distance, dramatic river canyons and so much more.

two small kids with backpacks have fun hiking the Slickrock Foot Trail in canyonlands national park utah.

There are four official (and well marked) viewpoints on the Slickrock Foot hike, but in reality, every step you take on this Canyonlands hike has insanely good views.

Despite being in a desert environment, when we did our family hike in April there were lots of beautiful wildflowers.

wildflowers on slickrock foot trail the needles canyonlands national park.

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Canyonlands National Park was so amazing, but the fun doesn’t stop there! We visited all 5 of the Mighty 5 national parks during our Utah family road trip.

Slickrock Foot Trail Hike Stats

Distance: The round trip distance of this balloon-shaped loop trail is 2.7 miles / 4.5 km.

Elevation Gain: The Slickrock Foot Trail has a few moderate inclines, but there are no really hard parts to this hike. Our GPS clocked in at 180 feet / 55 m of elevation gain.

Difficulty: The Slickrock Trail is pretty easy, although some kids may find the distance a bit much. In reality, they’ll be having so much fun, they likely won’t notice the distance at all. We’d rate this Canyonlands hiking trail as ‘easy’ as our 3 & 5 year old kids easily did the entire hike themselves.

Duration: The Slickrock Foot hike took us 2 hours and 30 minutes to complete, which is bang-on to our usual pace with the little ones. Without kids, we’d be able to hike this trail in less than an hour.

views along slickrock foot trail canyonlands national park the needles district.

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Our family hike on the Slickrock Trail is just one of the many fun things we did on our family holiday to Canyonlands National Park.

Slickrock Trail Location

Slickrock Foot Trail is located in the Needles area of Canyonlands National Park. The trailhead is approximately a 90 minute drive from Moab. Don’t let the distance scare you off; it’s a beautiful drive, especially once you turn onto Highway 211.

We got there around 10am on a Saturday in April and it wasn’t too busy at all. A welcome relief from the craziness of our visit to Arches National Park with kids the prior two days.

Dobongsan Trail Map on AllTrails

AllTrails Map

Follow along on your phone by downloading the Slickrock Foot hiking trail map on the AllTrails app.

Hiking Slickrock Foot Trail with Kids

The topography makes it hard to know where the Slickrock Trail is supposed to go, so NPS staff have placed rock cairns (inukshuks) along the path to highlight the way. Our kids loved looking for them and would often run ahead to find them.

There are no bathrooms at the Slickrock Foot trailhead. It’s a good idea to stop at the Canyonlands Visitor Center on this way to go. There are a few trees to duck behind on the trail, but please be careful not to step on any of the black dirt, which is a living organism essential to surrounding plant life.

a family enjoys an easy hike on the Slickrock Foot Trail - an easy hike in Canyonlands National Park.

There are no water bottle filling stations on this hike. If you need to fill your hydration packs before starting, the Canyonlands National Park Visitor Center has a water station.

The trail is mostly over slickrock, but there are also sections which are on gravel. Normal shoes and hiking shoes will be fine, but we wouldn’t recommend wearing flip-flops on this hike.

There isn’t much tree cover on this hike, so be prepared for full sun exposure for the duration of the hike. Bring lots of water and sunscreen; hydration packs are a great way to easily carry large quantities of water.

This hiking trail is not stroller accessible, but tons of parents we saw in Utah’s national parks used a hiking carrier for babies & toddlers to get their small kids around.

No dogs are allowed on the Slickrock Foot Trail.

Keep your eyes open for wildlife. We saw lots of lizards, a snake and a massive bird circling overhead. At first we thought it may have been a condor (found in Zion National Park), but a park ranger thought it was likely a turkey buzzard. Although we didn’t see any, bighorn sheep can be seen on this hike.

a young girl enjoys a family hike on the slickrock trail in the needles area of canyonlands national park utah.

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We love hiking with our kids around the world. If you’d like to get out more with your kids, be sure to read our advice on hiking with kids, and the best hiking gear for kids.

Where to Stop for Lunch or a Break

The slickrock formations provide limitless spots to stop and sit for a break. Finding shade is a bit of a challenge though as there are few trees tall enough. We stopped for lunch in the shade of a large boulder on the approach to Viewpoint 2.

Dan Brewer, of the Family Can Travel blog, enjoys a scenic family hike in Canyonlands National Park.

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We love visiting US national parks with our kids. Don’t miss our list of the best national parks in the United States for families.

Safety Tips

The sun can get intense in southern Utah, so bring more water than you think you will need.

The Slickrock Foot hiking trail follows the outer edges of a V-shaped mesa. Although the vast majority of the trail is far enough away from the mesa cliff-edge that you don’t need to worry, there are a few short sections which are precariously close to the cliff. Keep a close eye on your kids in these sections as the drop-off could be fatal.

two small kids are hiking in canyonlands national park on a family trip to Utah.

Discover Moab

Moab, Utah is a great base for exploring Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. For more things to do, family friendly hotels and campgrounds, visit our Arches National Park with Kids post.

Hiking the Slickrock Foot Trail in the Needles Canyonlands National Park Utah. If you are looking for a fun hike for kids, don't miss this one! It's kid friendly and has the most incredible views. The entire family will love it! #utah #utahwithkids #hikingwithkids #canyonlands #theneedlescanyonlands
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Dan Brewer is an intrepid family travel blogger with a passion for exploring the world's most captivating destinations. With 58 countries under his belt and a sense of wanderlust that knows no bounds, he has made it his life's mission to share his travel experiences and insights with fellow families who love to travel.

When Dan isn't traveling with his wife and kids, he's either out enjoying the Canadian Rockies he calls home or working on one of his three travel sites (Family Can Travel, Travel Banff Canada and Ultimate Sports Road Trip).