The Hall of Horrors is one of the best hikes in Joshua Tree National Park. It’s short, it’s scenic, and adding on the slot canyon is one of the most thrilling experiences in the park.
The Hall of Horrors is a short slot canyon that is located in the giant stacks of boulders in the Hall of Horrors area. Getting to this slot canyon requires rock scrambling and finding the slot canyon is sometimes the trickiest part of the experience.
In this guide, we let you know how to find the Hall of Horrors slot canyon, with photos and maps to point you in the right direction.
Let’s get started.
Hall of Horrors Hiking Stats
Distance: 0.6 miles if you only do the loop; the total distance can be shorter or longer, depending if you hike the full loop and how much extra exploring you do in this area. Our distance was 0.8 miles, which includes the loop and both slot canyons.
Difficulty: Easy if you only do the loop trail; moderate if you add on the slot canyons
Total Ascent: 100 feet
Length of Time: 1 to 1.5 hours
Getting Here: Park in the lot for the Hall of Horrors area, which is located on Park Boulevard. There are vault toilets at this parking lot.
Note: The Hall of Horrors area is also a popular rock climbing spot in Joshua Tree National Park. As you hike the trail here, you will see signs directing rock climbers to climbing routes.
Please practice the seven principles of Leave No Trace: plan ahead, stay on the trail, pack out what you bring to the hiking trail, properly dispose of waste, leave areas as you found them, minimize campfire impacts, be considerate of other hikers, and do not approach or feed wildlife.
Hiking the Hall of Horrors Loop
In the Hall of Horrors area, there are three clusters of giant boulders, which you can see in the map below. The hiking trail loops in and around these groups of boulders.
Hall of Horrors hiking map. The blue line is our hiking route. Starting at the parking lot, we walked clockwise around the first large pile of boulders. At the second pile of boulders we hiked the slot canyons and then finished the loop back to the parking lot.
The hiking trail is flat and gravelly and very easy to walk. I loved the views of the Joshua trees and the massive sandstone boulders.
Even if you have no plans to go rock scrambling, rock climbing, or attempt to find the slot canyon, this is still one of the nicest hikes in Joshua Tree National Park.
If you stick to the hiking trail and loop around the boulder stacks, this hike will take you 30 minutes.
Should you choose to hike the slot canyon, add on another 30 minutes.
Finding the Hall of Horrors Slot Canyon
Here is a route description to the slot canyon but I also recommend that you refer to our map above.
From the parking lot, you will see a very large cluster of boulders in front of you, which I am going to call the first group of boulders.
The trail starts at the parking lot and heads directly to the first group of boulders. Once at these boulders, hike clockwise around this first group of boulders (go to your left). You will see small trails that lead into the first group of boulders. We rock scrambled up onto the boulders here. We enjoyed it but we liked the second group more.
View of the hiking trail and the first pile of boulders from the trailhead.
Joshua Trees along the trail.
The hiking trail as it circles around the giant pile of boulders.
Continue around the left side of the first group of boulders and then the second group will come into view. The Hall of Horrors slot canyon is in the second group.
The trail as it heads around the left side of the first pile of boulders.
The trail to the second group of boulders.
Walk to the second group of boulders. On the southwestern corner of this group, you will have to rock scramble up onto the boulders. As you hike up onto these boulders, you will reach the entrance for two slot canyons that sit side by side.
The second group of boulders.
As you scramble up onto the boulders, look for those two openings in the rocks…those are the entrances into the slot canyons.
Hall of Horrors Slot Canyons
There are two slot canyons here. The slot canyons run parallel to one another and the entrances are right next to each other.
The slot canyon on the right is wide and sandy. To get down into it, you will have to scramble down a large boulder. Before doing this, make the assessment as to whether or not you can climb back up this boulder. This slot canyon dead ends at the far end of the slot canyon.
Hall of Horrors slot canyon #1
The slot canyon on the left has a wide opening and it is easy to get into and out of since you don’t have to do any rock scrambling (there is no large boulder to scramble over).
Entrance into the second slot canyon
Once inside the second slot canyon, it’s a tight squeeze to far end. In some spots, it’s only about 6 inches wide and Tim and I could barely squeeze through these narrower sections. For comparison, this slot canyon is narrower than Spooky Gulch in Utah, which was the narrowest slot canyon we have hiked before Joshua Tree. Here are a few photos.
At the far end of the second slot canyon, you can rock scramble up and out of the canyon. It’s moderately challenging and before climbing up this small wall, make sure you will be able to climb back down it.
Once up and out of the second slot canyon, go to your left. This takes you to a large clearing where you will be surrounded by enormous boulders. You can hike up higher for a view of this clearing, or continue exploring in this area. We found several small caves and viewpoints from the top of the second group of boulders.
Hiking up and out of the Hall of Horrors slot canyon.
View from the second boulder pile.
View over the top of the second boulder pile.
We didn’t look too hard, but when we did this, it looked like the easiest way back out of the second group of boulders was to retrace our steps back through the second slot canyon.
Once finished at the slot canyons, hike back to your car, or keep exploring the Hall of Horrors area.
Another view of the Joshua Trees on the return hike to the parking lot.
If you have any questions about the Hall of Horrors hike or finding the slot canyons, or if you want to share your experience, let us know in the comment section below.
More Information for Your Trip to California
JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK: In our article Best Things to Do in Joshua Tree, we cover the top 10 experiences in the park and also provide important planning information. We also have a guide to the Best Hikes in Joshua Tree.
ANZA-BORREGO DESERT: If you only have one day in the park and want to see the highlights, read our article How to Spend One Day in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. We also have a detailed Guide to Hiking The Slot.
MOJAVE NATIONAL PRESERVE: Learn about the best things to do and how to plan your visit in our Guide to the Mojave National Preserve.
NATIONAL PARKS: In our Guide to the US National Parks, get the full list of national parks with important travel planning information, such as things to do in the parks and sample itineraries.
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