Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument Things to Do

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Most Recent Things to Do in Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument

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    Coyote Gulch

    by Segolily Updated Feb 13, 2014

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    Though technically not in the Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument, Coyote Gulch is part of the Escalante River system and is reached via the monument so I am including it here.

    Coyote Gulch is the epitome of the Escalante area. A total surprise hidden away below the top rock, it is a gem of riparian beauty. You can spend one day, or 3-4 wandering this canyon, though at least two provides an opportunity to really explore it. Along the way there is Jacob Hamblin Arch, Coyote Natural Bridge, Cliff Arch, ancient rock art, four waterfalls, and if you get to the confluence with the Escalante river one of the largest arches in the world, Stephen's Arch, is visible.

    This is not for a casual visitor. However, for those who are able to make the trip it will be extremely rewarding.

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    Drive down Cottonwood Wash road

    by Segolily Updated Feb 8, 2014

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    South of Cannonville you will pass Kodachrome Basin State Park. Just past this the road turns to dirt. It is graded and maintained and can, in good conditions be, driven in a passenger car. However, as with all dirt roads its condition can change, when it is wet the clay becomes impossible to navigate even with 4x4. So check conditions first, have a map as there are other side roads to become lost on, be prepared with food, water, blankets, spare tires and anything else you think might be helpful in an emergency. And then enjoy one of my favorite drives. Sometimes I will come just to see the Coxscomb as it is rather stunning. The road ends at rte 89 about half way between Kanab and Page near the Paria outpost. You will still be miles from civilization.

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    Visit Devil's Garden

    by Segolily Updated Feb 8, 2014

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    This location of hoodoos and arches is located about 10 miles down the Hole in the Rock road. It is a great location for a picnic or lazy afternoon. There are some picnic tables but no water. Look for Metate Arch as well as other interesting formations. It is a great place to visit for an hour or so. Get buried in the sand, played with the collared lizards, scamble over sandstone dunes.

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    Drive the Burr Trail

    by Segolily Updated Feb 8, 2014

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    At the northern reaches of the Monument you will find the Burr Trail. It begins in the town of Boulder and is paved through the Monument. The pavement ends when it reaches the Capitol Reef Natl Park. It continues down the famous switchbacks to meet up with the Notom Road. However, you don't have to go that far to enjoy it. Take the first 17 miles as it goes past the "Gulch" and into Long Canyon. This is a place to relax and enjoy. You can rush through here, but why? At the end of Long Canyon you will climb up through the Circle Cliffs. Take the road just past this exit and then turn around to enjoy the view. This is a wonderful secluded spot of earth that never fails to impress me. You can then backtrack to Hwy 12.

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    Hike the Escalante River channel

    by Segolily Updated Feb 8, 2014

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    This is a relatively easy 14 mile one way trail following the Escalante River as it begins its journey to the Colorado River. The jagged corridor it cuts through the Navajo sandstone provides a quiet place of contemplation and access to Death Hollow. Traveling one way requires a shuttle. You can start in town and head downstream along the narrow canyon through the sand cliffs to the take out at the bridge of highway 12 near Calf Creek. The cottonwoods and willows provide shade and a green contrast to the red and brown of the sandstone cliffs. Lizards, birds, snakes, Anasazi pictures, sheer cliffs reaching up 500-100 ft, an arch and a bridge decorate the hike. Be prepared to walk in water as river crossings are frequent as is walking down the river itself.

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    Escalante Interagency Visitor Center

    by blueskyjohn Updated May 4, 2013

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    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.

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    Lower Calf Creek Falls

    by blueskyjohn Updated May 4, 2013

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    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.

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    Willis Creek

    by Segolily Written Dec 23, 2011
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    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.

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    Slither through a slot canyon

    by Segolily Written Sep 14, 2011

    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.

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    Anasazi State Park Museum

    by Toughluck Written Nov 19, 2009

    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.

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    Hole in the Rock Road

    by Toughluck Written Nov 19, 2009
    Navajo Mountain

    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.

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    Calf Creek

    by Toughluck Updated Nov 19, 2009
    Calf Creek Falls
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    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.

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    Petrified Forest State Park

    by BruceDunning Updated Oct 29, 2009

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    Roadside Sign to park
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    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.

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    Paria Movie Set

    by BruceDunning Updated Oct 29, 2009

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    Plaque describing the good old days
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    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.

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    Grand Staircase Interior Road sites

    by BruceDunning Updated Oct 29, 2009

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    Map of the roads in Monument
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    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.

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Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument Things to Do

Segolily's Profile Photo

The sprawling Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument is the desert southwest at its finest.  From the Pink Cliffs to the Escalante river slots, from the Hoodoos at Devil's Garden to...

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