Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument Off The Beaten Path

  • Off The Beaten Path
    by blueskyjohn
  • Off The Beaten Path
    by blueskyjohn
  • Welding together the spokes
    Welding together the spokes
    by BruceDunning

Most Recent Off The Beaten Path in Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument

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    Spooky slot canyon

    by blueskyjohn Updated May 4, 2013

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    Spooky Slot Canyon runs parallel with Peek-a-boo slot canyon and is usually done as part of a loop hike. When you exit Peek-a-boo slot canyon, walk about 100 feet to the right and you will see a cairn marking a trail going up a small hill. There are many trails weaving through here but they all lead to the same area.
    Continue until you reach a sandy steep embankment which goes down into a large dry wash. Once down in the wash, walk the the right and enter Spooky slot canyon. Spooky is a bit deeper and much tighter than Peek-a-boo slot canyon. At times you will need to remove your pack to get through.

    When you exit Spooky, turn right and walk back to the entrance of Peek-a-boo slot canyon and continue on to your car.

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    Peek-a-boo slot canyon

    by blueskyjohn Updated May 4, 2013

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    Toward the end of Peek-a-boo slot
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    Peek-a-boo slot canyon is a great day hike if you can find it. It is a good idea to check with the rangers station in the town of Escalante to see what the water level is. In early March there could be some water to negotiate. As with any slot canyon, do not try this hike if the forecast calls for rain.

    From the trail head, walk down into the obvious canyon, following the cairns to a sandy slope (fun to go down but tough coming back up. Once on the canyon floor, walk south for about 200 yards. On the left is a 30ft. high cliff with some small arches at the top and possibly some water at the base. Climb up here on some steps that area carved into the rock. Follow the slot crawling under the arches and through the potholes. This is one of the best hikes I have every done. At the end, you come out into a dry wash. You can turn back or go right looking for cairns that will take you across the desert to the entrance of Spooky slot canyon.

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    Take the loop!

    by blueskyjohn Updated May 4, 2013

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    Escalante is great. You will definitely enjoy it. If you hike Pee-a-boo and spooky as a loop, be sure to go up Peek-a-boo and down spooky. Two reasons, trying to down climb out of Peek-a-boo can be nerve racking to say the least, unless you are an avid climber. An in and out hike of Peek-a-boo is not recommended without some climbing experience. The loop with spooky is the way to go.

    To do the loop, follow the directions here for Peek-a-boo

    Once out of Peek-a-boo there is an obvious wash to the right. Do not go up this. turn on an acute right turn and start up the sandy knoll between that dry wash and the slot you just exited. There are many herd paths here and small cairns but they all lead to the same location generally. Continue until you get to another large, wide wash. You should be standing at a high embankment overlooking the wash with a deep sand trail down. The entrance to Spooky as seen in the the 4th photo above.

    Follow the directions I have here for Spooky

    Its a tough go but you will be glad you did it in this direction.

    Remember to practice Leave No Trace principles.

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    Escalante-An Artist To be Sought Out

    by BruceDunning Written Oct 28, 2009

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    Making of the spoke wheel
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    This place I stopped late at night was more than interesting. Keven Peterson owns Tribal Sounds, and makes Indian looking drums, but especially hydro wheels. The wheels work on the theory of gravity and Keven spends pain staking time calculating that gravity before building a wheel. He was educated as an engineer. He came out here some 25 years ago, and decided the everyday work world was lacking. So he formulated his talent into something to make a living over time. Keven is reknowned for making drums of all sizes and some other Indian symbols around the US. He also has gained a reputation for the hydro wheels.
    Those hydro wheels are getting big. They get bigger than a man, and after spending maybe a couple of months building one (for orders only), he sells for high price. The best and biggest was around $30,000. The designs he does and the intricate detail blew me away.
    That is why I am dedicating so much time to explain if you get to this area, look him up and see his works. Buying is also a recommendation. There are some lesser costly items. I am not promoting him, but do admire the fine work he does at his pace

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    Cottonwwod Rd - Bring an SUV

    by WinInZion Written Aug 26, 2009

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    Cottonwod Rd driving North from RT 89
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    Cottonwood Rd runs across the GSENM. This is 40 miles of backcountry driving and a HC vehicle is recommended. You'll pass through some beautiful scenery and get to visit a 65 million year old fossilized oyster bed, a nice slot canyon and Grosvenor's Arch.

    Check with the BLM in either Big Water or Cannonville for current conditions. This road is impassable when wet and probably closed in Winter.

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    owls

    by richiecdisc Updated Jun 21, 2009

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    Mama & her young one look on

    The owls it turned out were much closer to the mouth of the canyon and were well worth the effort of finding, baring even the near snake bite experience. It was a mother Great Horned Owl with one young offspring holed up high in the cliff wall. The Great Horned Owl has a wide distribution and can be found not only in forests but also desert canyons and even city parks. Not active during the day, the great predator is a nocturnal hunter who uses its incredible sense of hearing as well as sight to locate its prey. Their pray includes just about anything that moves though they have a predilection for cottontail rabbits.

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    the scent of the cliff rose

    by richiecdisc Updated Jun 20, 2009

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    the lovely smell of the Cliff Rose

    One of my favorite memories of the Southwestern US and of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was the scent of the Cliff Rose. This sturdy shrub is heat and cold resistant so perfect for the desert, Unassuming most of the year, in spring, its yellow flowers give off such a beautiful and spicy fragrance. I am a big fan of Vietnamese food and their signature dish is Pho, a tasty aromatic soup. To me, this flower smelled very much like Pho. Every time the wind would blow and I'd smell the Cliff Rose, I thought of Pho.

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    jack rabbits

    by richiecdisc Updated Jun 20, 2009

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    worth getting out of the bad in the morning

    Jack Rabbits are about as western as road runners and surely one of the great joys of camping in the desert. Though you are bound to see them darting across any given road if you are driving early morning or evening, you can't entirely enjoy them if they are racing to get away from you. It's far more fun to sit lie in your tent and wait for them to come to play as the sun comes up. There were hoards of them scurrying about when we were at White House campground. The Jack Rabbit is actually a hare which unlike their rabbit cousins like Cottontails do not build nests. Their young are born more haphazardly but more prepared for life as such, with eyes fully open and already furred. The ones in this area are Black-tailed Jack Rabbits.

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    Hedgehog Prickly Pear

    by richiecdisc Written Jun 20, 2009

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    the sturdy Hedgehog Prickly Pear
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    Hiking out to The Wave, you wouldn't think anything could survive out there, let along anything as beautiful as the flowering Hedgehog Prickly Pear. This rugged cacti is well adapted to desert life, being able to retain the precipitation that falls heavily but irregularly. Seeing them popping up from the crevices of this red rock country is like small blobs of icing on an already amazing cake.

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    bats

    by richiecdisc Written Jun 20, 2009

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    not exactly a bat out of hell

    After running into Great Horned Owls and snakes, we figured we couldn't be surprised by much more but a bat crawling around on the ground in broad albeit shady daylight certainly got our attention peaked again. I am no bat expert but from the very small size of it and its coloring, it looks to be a Western Pipestrelle which is only four grams. It turns out these are amongst the more active bats during the day. They nest in crevices of rocks in canyons and can consume up to 20% of their body weight feeding on swarms of a large variety of insects.

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    snakes

    by richiecdisc Written Jun 20, 2009

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    sure he was just as surprised as us

    We were making our way back out of Buckskin Gulch and ready to take the short and tight Wire Pass back to the parking area when a couple of hikers told us they had just seen two owls in the canyon, up high on the right side of the trail. We thanked them for the tip and hurried back in, all the while keeping our eyes peeled high for the elusive nocturnal birds. We wandered up and down the canyon, not knowing how far back it was that they'd seem them. All of a sudden we heard the hissing of a snake and looked down to find one rearing back, ready to strike. Of course, it turned out to be harmless non-venomous one but in that instant all we thought about was being down a remote dirt road in the middle of a narrow canyon prone to flash floods. Okay, maybe all we were thinking about was getting bitten but at any rate, we had completely forgotten about the owls.

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    Calf Creek - camping and hiking to see pictographs

    by gonehiking Updated May 9, 2009
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    In March 2009, my dog and I camped at Calf Creek campground and then hiked the Lower Falls Trail to see the native pictographs that are about half way to Lower Falls. The campground and trail are in the Calf Creek Recreation Area, managed by the BLM, which lies within the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The turnoff to the campground is off of Hwy 12 between the towns of Escalante and Boulder (see link to map on BLM website). The campground has 13 spaces which are accessed from a short winding road that circles an area of the creek. The hill down to the campground is fairly steep and the road and sites are suited only to tent and car-camping, or small trailers and RVs. Some of the sites are very small and must be backed into. About half of the sites are on the far side of the creek, so you must drive across the creek on a paved lane. When I was there, the water was just 2 or 3 inches deep, but it can probably be considerably more during other times of the year. There are warning signs around the campground that there can be flash flooding, so I would think the lower sites in the campground could get flooded out in bad weather. There's just one vault toilet for the campground and its on the east side of the creek so can be accessed by walking across a pedestrian suspension bridge. I believe that all of the sites have picnic tables and barbecue type things for wood or charcoal fires. I can't remember if any had fire rings. I stayed in one of the sites that backs against a red sandstone cliff. I believe the fee for one night was $7.00. There's a day use area with picnic tables at this site as visitors come to walk the trail to the Lower Falls and see the pictographs.
    The hiking trailhead is at the north side of the campground (it goes off somewhere between campsites 5 and 6, I believe). The trail follows Calf Creek, which winds along through a deep canyon cut through the yellowish Navajo Sandstone domes of that region (see the "from above" view in my photos). The deeper areas of the canyon pass through red rock with spires and mesas of yellow and red banded rock towering above. There are trail guides in a box at the trailhead -- so take one before setting out. There are remnants of a couple of native structures (granaries or shelters) - but you must watch for them. The pictographs are about half way or perhaps further along on the way to the Lower Falls which is the end point on the trail. I think it took my dog and I about 90 minutes round trip to go as far as the pictographs. They are on the far side of the creek on the lowest section of a very tall sandstone wall. You have to look hard to see them from the trail. If you want a good look at them, bring along binoculars or a camera with a good zoom. They are of three human figures of the Fremont type typical of this region -- about 1000 years old -- the figures are trapezoidal in shape with horns or other shapes on the heads.
    The trail is fairly easy walking -- mostly level, but with quite a few up and down grades. There are sections with very loose sand that might give some people a bit of trouble to walk over. There are prickly pear cactus, buffalo bush, sage, and other plants along the trails. When I was there, Wild Turkeys had been walking along the trail earlier that morning.
    All in all, it's a nice place to camp and the trail is excellent. The only thing I would warn of is that the site probably fills up quickly at busy times of the year. I was probably just lucky to get a site at all as I arrived around 4 p.m. and this was during the March Break period when there were a lot of people camping throughout southern Utah.

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