Photo Story: Freeriding in Utah's Slot Canyons

May 28, 2023
by Guerrilla Gravity  

Words by: Guerrilla Gravity // Photos By: Scott Cody & Mike Cartier

Last month, we sent some GG’s out for a grand adventure in the Southern Utah desert.

It all started when photographers Scott Cody and Mike Cartier pitched us a wild idea: a mountain bike trip to ride the narrow Slot Canyons of Utah and in turn, get some pretty epic photos. Our response? “Let’s do it.”

The inspiration for this trip came from a couple decades worth of Cody exploring the vast Utah landscape on two-wheels, with a camera in tow. He wanted to share this aridly beautiful landscape with other riders, creating unique content that riders could connect with. As a rider-focused brand, it seemed like our two visions aligned.

While the concept might sound simple at first glance, the logistics of getting into, shooting, and riding a slot canyon are no easy feat. You need a strong affinity for “type II” fun.

Beyond just getting there, some pretty technical riding skills are needed (as demonstrated below) to navigate through narrow canyon walls and down the steep spines of desert “mountains”. That's where the front-of-camera talent comes in: Ben Ortowski, a pro DH and Enduro racer and coach and Westley Cody, a former Enduro/BMX racer turned free rider. With these impressive backgrounds, it's no surprise that they were up for the challenge.

While we couldn’t join them on the trip, we were able to relive the adventure through the incredible moments they captured…

The adventure begins in the car. Access to the canyon trailhead requires navigating a 15-20 mile 4x4 road, which is only passable in the right vehicle and weather conditions.

It's not just bikes on the gear list... Camping supplies, a full photography “studio”, and the necessities to survive also need to get safely down 20 foot canyon walls.

Forget chairlifts…this is it’s own kind of “bike park”


Riders Ben Ortowski and Westley Cody, carving fresh tracks down the desert dunes.


It may look like they’re riding on a different planet, but this all took place only a mere 7 hours from the GG HQ in Denver. We’re lucky to have an incredible amount of varied MTB terrain within a day's drive from the Rocky Mountains.

Getting bikes into a slot canyon requires teamwork.



But once you’re in, it turns out the riding is pretty good.

Perfect singletrack preserved by narrow canyon walls.


The sun may have set on this trip, but Cody, Cartier, and crew are already planning their next canyon adventure to continue exploring the limitless possibilities of the Utah Desert.

Head to to learn more about our bikes and this project.


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GuerrillaGravity avatar

Member since Aug 26, 2010
28 articles

  • 22 2
 I think it should be noted that anyone who wants to ride/hike in the slot canyons should pay very close attention to the weather. It can turn on you within minutes, and the walls block the view of the sky, so you don't know if a storm is coming until it's on top of you. People die in the slot canyons every year because they get caught in flash floods during a rain storm. By all means, go explore, and have a good time, just be careful!
  • 3 0
 Not just the local weather, but even miles away. 11 were killed in Arizona when they went into a slot canyon not realizing a storm miles away would drain into the canyon they were in.
  • 6 11
flag sanchofula (May 30, 2023 at 11:54) (Below Threshold)
 it's not just the weather that's risky, but the legality ... maybe figure that out before you post a public video. There's a well known biker ("Mike") who got in trouble for this sort of thing.

Once again PB staff not being good shepherds of the natural environment ...
  • 4 0
 @sanchofula: It greatly depends on the area. Some of the slot canyons are designated for hiking/recreation, others are not. Just do research before you go.
  • 3 0
 Epic photos. And look at those slides in the background! Scary sh**!
  • 2 0
 That massive dirt quarter is begging for a heli caveman drop-in!
  • 2 0
 Great photos, but that last shot is especially $$$$!
  • 2 0
 Sick idea, and the photos turned out rad!
  • 2 0
 Nice photos!
  • 2 1
 This story is really bringing out the Karens.
  • 5 7
 Hanksville aka. Swingarm city is the sickest moto freeride spot in the west! ( y'all remember freeride, right? not slope style on the side of a Utah mountain.)
  • 1 0
 Fantastic pics, guys!
  • 5 6
 Legal ?
  • 9 22
flag rofsky (May 29, 2023 at 23:45) (Below Threshold)
 Who cares . People shit in streets and cause anarchy all over america. Ride anywhere you want. Freeride.
  • 8 0
 There is a large open travel area just west of Hanksville for motos (and bikes). Kind of a sacrifice zone for people to let out their inner freerider.
  • 4 1
 Come on Pat, just enjoy the pics and move on. Theres no point in trying to bring light to the of legality for internet points.

You could have just as easily typed in "Hanksville mtb" into the gargler to see what the area was like.
  • 2 0
 a lot of content on here is totally illegal. why ask now? couple people hit a canyon a few times for a photo shoot?
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