Escalante has four visitor centers and a few field offices. The one mentioned here is in the northern district in the town of Escalante. Clean bathrooms and very helpful staff. They do not have a gift store exactly, especially not like a national park. This is a good place to start and ask questions about road conditions and slot canyons.
They also have a small picnic area on a cement patio. Well shaded, a perfect place to make you lunch and eat if you are passing on through.
Lower Calf Creek Fall is easy to find. After coming down out of the Henry Mountains (if you are coming from Hanksville) you will see an entrance for Calf Creek Recreation Area. The trail head is just down the road from the parking lot, walking towards the campsites.
The trail is very nice and strolls along the Calf Creek for about three miles. About 2/3 of the was up the trail you can find some great Indian petraglyphs. This is an in and out hike for a total of six miles. The Calf Creek fall is about 125 feet high. It is a nice place to swim in the summer and around the falls does not receive much sunlight.
One of the more accessible slot canyons in the monument Willis Creek is a perpetual water source in the dry desert. Driving up from Kanab via the Johnson Canyon road you pass Lick Gorge and Bull Valley Gorge along the way and can make exploring all of them a day long excursion. Plan a long half day if just coming to Willis Creek.
Willis has a golden glow to the rocks and is a pleasant and easy hike. There is one waterfall which needs a little scrambling to get around but otherwise the hike is level. There are several narrow sections intermingled with more open waterways and a great place for shade on a hot summer day. As with any slot canyon avoid if rain is expected in the area to avoid getting caught in a flashflood.
The road is graded dirt and in dry conditions is a fairly decent road. Check locally before driving on it. An high clearance SUV or truck would be a good idea.
There are many good slot canyons in the monument.
Those most frequently seen by new visitors are Spooky and Peekaboo down the Hole in the Rock Road, and Willis Canyon off the Glendale Bench or Skutumpah Road or the Cottonwood Narrows on the Cottonwood Wash Road.
These are wilderness hikes and should be treated with respect. First getting to them requires driving a dirt road. Always check local conditions and weather reports at the visitor's centers before heading down the roads. Then there is always a risk of flash flooding. It is, afterall water rushing through these cracks in the rock which create the canyons in the first place. Next, they are seldom sign posted as well as more well documented hikes. So get good directions, have a gps or compass and map and use them. You don't want to be wondering around in the heat of the summer. And last, be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks and hike in the early morning during the hot summer.
Hey, it's actually a great place to stop. No, they still have the ruins protected and thus not visible to the public. Just pull into the parking lot. See the museum building and imagine that this is it for miles. No cars, no horses, no groceries. It's just you, this small community and the semi-desert world around you.
Now go inside and see how these people made it work. You'll be amazed.
Heading south from the town of Escalante, the Hole in the Rock Road, leads through a desolate looking country. Soon, you begin to see the beauty that surrounds you and the hardships that faced the early natives and pioneers who crossed this area. There are lots of hikes and access to the Escalante River, but the drive is what we did.
We spent the night, when we hit a sand pit on open rock and dug ourselves into the sandstone. Waiting for the sun to set before beginning any serious work, gave us a chance to enjoy the area with short walks among the sage, cactus and rattlers (only 1). Once the sun was down, we had to use an axe to chip away the stone the surrounded our tire up to the rim of the hub. Once free, we pulled off and spent a wonderful night under the stars listening to the silence of nature.
Yes, the view we had was of Navajo Mountain off to the southeast on the far side of Glen Canyon, which we only knew about from the maps, not from what we could see.
Roundtrip distance to the falls is 5-1/2 miles. While little elevation change is encountered, most of the trail is sandy, and can be very strenuous walking, particularly in warm weather. It's well worth the trip. If you liked Zion Canyon National Park, you'll love Calf Creek. It's a more personal version of Zion.
Alongside Hwy 12, by Grand Staircase is this park. It is not all that big, but does have some good hikes into the interior to see the petrified wood. Only about one mile is worth seeing, while the rest is for viewing the landscape of mountains. It is located right close to Escalante, the town. Admission is $5.
From the south end off Hwy 89 is this site. I suggest you do not try to make the drive unless you are risk taker, and do not worry about creek washes and the road hanging on side of hills, and steep and winding driving. I got stuck in sand and nearly tore up the transmission getting out and up a steep hill. It is about 35 miles east of Kanab, and 30 miles west of Page if you want to see it. There is not set any longer. Burned and not to be seen; just a plaque explaining the old time fame around here for movie making. The mountain views and color are splendid, though.
There are 4 primary roads into the interior of this huge preserved monument. By the way-called Grand Staircase because Grand Canyon explorers could see the continued rising of the mountains, and it looked like stairs. These roads used to be used by locals to get north/south; visa versa. NOw a lot of them are impassible, or risks are on your own in rain, or the wrong vehicle.
The Hole in the Rock Rd is named form the Mormons that created a path to try and find sources to farm and graze cattle. They ended up at the base of Colorado River in 1879, and had to cut out a route 300 feet down, and one wall 45 feet straight down. That took 6 weeks to get through the trek down to the river. Hole in Rock Rd is okay for 111 miles, then it gets bad to worse. It is a dead end at 57 miles in to the river.
Burr Trail is a paved road for 30 miles,and then it get rough dirt into Capitol Reef park the back way. Views are all impressive, and many slot canyons/hikes to take here.
Hell's Backbone is not in GSENM, but a next to it 44 miles road worth mention for its rough and rugged driving.
Other roads not recommended to take ar Smoke Rd; very rough and tough, and Skutumpah from the north. Johnson Canyon Rd from the south is paved 10 miles,then it gets difficult.
They have a very nice museum that shows the living methods of the Indians back in 1100-1200's. The area also features the rock formations around here. Entry charge is $5. In the rear are the ruins of the village. See the other things to do page for pictures
This is the ruins of the Indian group named Anazasi/Pueblo. At one time, there were about 200 people living here between 1050-1200AD. They farmed, hunted and enjoyed the scenery. The ruins are some rebuilt, and others still in archaeological digging. The walking area is very small, but the park is 6 acres; most not accessible to tourists.
The site is right in the town of Boulder on Hwy 12
Coming from CAnnonville there is the Cottonwood Rd. It is paved for 9 miles, and then it drastically changes. I was shaken, rattled and rolled. There are severe washboard and rocky sections most of the way. Then there was the ascent/descent rather steep and swift to get to the top of hills and back down/up. Then there was the creek washes. Remember, you need to go back the ame way you came as easiest from the north end.
Once you get past all that, the 1 mile drive down a side road to the arch is easy. I found out form others that the route coming from the south is tougher, even for 4WD vehicles, and this was a dry, clear day. So surely do not drive in rain/winter.
The Grosvenor Arch is named after that gentleman, who was the founder of National Geographic; no more fitting. The arch stands at 152 feet, and you can walk up to the base.
The first 9 miles on the north end is paved, but not maintained well. Then the road changes into washboard, and winding, and ascent/descent up hills and alongside cliffs. I went down 18 of the 47 miles to get to Grosvenor Arch site. Along the way at MM 9, there is the turnoff for Kodachrome Basin State Park. A fee of $5 is charged to get in.
I did not like the road much, and if it rained at all, or lately, recommendation is do not take it. The road ends on Hwy 89 at MM 18. It is located from the north at CAnnonville by Bryce park
This is a 57 mile gravel/dirt/sand road that has 18 designated areas to see/do along the way. The road goes form Hwy 12 down to Lake Powell. Oh by the way-no way to get out of there, but some back the same way. The road can be treacherous, especially after rains.
The Harris Wash hike is a total of 11 miles -one way-to take you down to the Escalante river, going inside the wash almost all the way. The place to park is 10.6 miles down Hole in the Rock Rd, and then take a side rd on left side for 7 miles. There a two creek washes to watch out for here. They are impassable at the wrong time. Walk to the wash. Views along the way are sheer and steep red rocks and smooth creek bed as far as I went-3 miles in and then back. Slot canyons are along the way-but so is getting wet and being in very narrow sheer rock walls.
It was the adventure to see if I could get in and back out okay.
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