Anniversary Narrows slot canyon

Anniversary Narrows is a hike located in Lake Mead National Recreation Area, reminiscent of the famous slot canyons in Utah. This place caught my attention when I was searching for a more accessible hike after my challenging climb of Virgin Peak. Although it's a relatively popular trail, I found route finding to be more challenging than I had anticipated. This is a hike best done in the winter and can be crowded. Here's my trip report.

Getting to Anniversary Narrows Trailhead

If you're traveling from Las Vegas or points west, the easiest way to reach Anniversary Narrows is via Route 147 or East Lake Mead Boulevard. Continue east past the Frenchman Mountain trailhead until you reach the Lake Mead NRA Entrance Station. The entrance fee is $25 per vehicle. Interestingly, on the day I visited, nobody was staffing the ranger station, and there was no virtual payment option available, so I was fortunate enough to enter for free. Approximately 2 miles past the entrance station, you'll come across an intersection with Route 167, also known as Northshore Road. Take a left or head east on this road and continue for 12.7 miles until you reach the trailhead, which will be on your left. There's a spacious, dusty parking area where most vehicles with normal clearance park.

From the north, take Route 169 headed south from I-15 through Moapa Valley. Continue for about 21 miles past the turnoff for Valley of Fire. The Northshore Entrance Station is immediately south of the turnoff for Valley of Fire State Park. Head on Northshore Road/Route 167 for about 30 miles until you reach the trailhead on the right.

Driving to the trailhead
The 4x4 road to the trailhead oscillates between sandy/dusty and random sections that are practically paved. I didn't test my rental car out on it though.
4x4 parking
4x4 parking area. Certainly there were people who parked their stock SUVs there. But I didn't chance it

If your vehicle has higher clearance and a bit more power, you can continue for another 1.8 miles to reach a designated 4x4 parking area. However, please note that the roads in this area lack signage and can be a little confusing. During my hike, I even had to provide directions to two individuals in high clearance vehicles."

Please keep in mind that cell phone service is spotty at best in this area. While the trailhead is relatively clear, there is not much signage in the vicinity or on the actual hike.

Here's my map:

Hike Stats

The Anniversary Narrows hike offers variable distance and difficulty depending on your starting point and how far you venture into the canyon. I completed the hike from the trailhead, traversing through the narrows to the other side. According to my calculations, it covered approximately 7.3 miles with an elevation gain of around 500 feet. Considering my stops for photos and breaks, the hike took me roughly 3 hours to complete. Similar to most slot canyons, this trail involves some squeezing and scrambling, which may pose challenges for folks uncomfortable with slippery surfaces or the possibility of getting wet.

Slot Canyon entrance
Walking up the wash to the canyon entrance

Anniversary Narrows Trip Report

I began my hike from the main trailhead, following a pre-loaded GPS route that guided me along a network of 4x4 trails. The initial 1.1 miles involved ascending along the most well-traveled road, gradually gaining altitude. At the 1.1-mile mark, I encountered a confusing junction. Although either direction would likely lead to the trailhead, I opted to go right, staying on my pre-loaded route. Continuing for another 0.7 miles, I passed what appeared to be an active mining site until I finally reached the designated 4x4 parking area.

From there, the trail led me down into the wash/canyon, which eventually transformed into the breathtaking Anniversary Narrows. Inside the canyon, the unnamed road made a hairpin turn. At that point, I decided to leave the road behind and began my trek up the canyon. As I hiked up the wash/canyon for another 0.7 miles, I started to notice traces of other hikers, adding to the sense of adventure. Finally, the entrance to the canyon came into view, offering a picturesque sight (pictured below).

With little prior exposure to pictures or information about the hike, I was filled with delight and pleasant surprise upon discovering the depth and length of the canyon. It truly embodied the essence of a slot canyon, captivating me with its natural beauty. The subsequent 0.5 mile stretch became a sinuous and secluded passage, adorned with vibrant southwestern colors. Ribbons of sandstone gracefully defined the steeply rising walls, casting a mystical aura over the surroundings. The experience evoked a sense of wandering through a canyon reminiscent of the grandeur found in Zion National Park.

Anniversary Narrows
Anniversary Narrows canyon entrance
So classically southwest...
Anniversary Narrows

There was one section that required some hands-and-feet climbing
Anniversary Narrows Exit
Anniversary Narrows Exit

The slot canyon section eventually dissipated into another wash on the opposite end. Curious to explore further, I hiked an additional 0.2 miles but found no significant features beyond. Despite my preference for loop hikes, the opportunity to meander through the canyon once more enhanced the overall experience.

This is definitely a hike I would do again. Being just 45 minutes from Vegas, I am confident that I will have the opportunity to revisit this magnificent trail in the near future