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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    Anasazi State Park-Museum

    by BruceDunning Updated Oct 29, 2009

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    Entrance to the park
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    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

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    Anasazi State Park Ruins

    by BruceDunning Updated Oct 29, 2009

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    Ruins of living quarters
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    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

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    Cottonwood Canyon Rd-Grosvenor Arch

    by BruceDunning Updated Oct 29, 2009

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    Panorama view of the arch
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    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.

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    Cottonwood CAnyon Rd

    by BruceDunning Updated Oct 29, 2009

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    Washboard road all the way
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    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

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    Hole in the Rock Rd-Harris Wash

    by BruceDunning Updated Oct 29, 2009

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    Rough dirt/sandy road 7 miles
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    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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    Hole in Rock Rd-Devils Garden

    by BruceDunning Updated Oct 29, 2009

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    Odd shaped hoodoos
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    The Hole in the Rock Rd is 57 miles lone, and washboard bumpy to this point and a bit rough, but you can make it to the 13 miles to this site. It is called Devil's Garden because of the hoodoo like formations and balanced rocks in the valley. The road to take is to the right 1/4 mile. Park and walk around the rock formations. It is similar to the Goblin VAlley formations. No hiking is needed; just walk. They have picnic areas and a pit toilet for relief.

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    Hwy 12 Different Landscapes

    by BruceDunning Updated Oct 29, 2009

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    Section going down into Burr Trail Rd
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    There are distinct landscape variations on this road. It sometimes looks desert; others like a forest area. The road is 124 miles long, and is an Al American Road, meaning it is a destination to itself for the beauty and wonder along the highway. Ranked top 5 in the US for scenery, it is worth the ride. It has many unique places to stop and get that "picture" moment. The highway goes from Torrey off Hwy 24 in the north to Panguitch that connects to Hwy 89. The Grand Staircase is all along the southern edge of the road.
    There are 20 designated places to stop, hike, or see in parks along the Hwy 12 route.

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    Lower Calf Creek Falls

    by BruceDunning Updated Oct 29, 2009

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    Entry sign to the recreation area.
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    This is the main spot where most people come to see the creek and hike, and camp. There are 13 campsites along the creek. The falls can be heard close to the Hwy 12 location, but the climb and hike to get to see them takes a bit more. It is 3 miles one way, and a lot on a sandy trail. Later toward the end you climb steep rock to get to the falls overlook. I only went in 1 mile along the creek, and was too exhausted from the Upper Calf Creek hike to do both in one day.
    The rec area is just before, or after the Hogsback switchback section of Hwy 12. Go slow or you drive past it. It is about 27 miles from Boulder, and 18 from Escalante, around MM 86.

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    Upper Calf Creek Falls

    by BruceDunning Updated Oct 29, 2009

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    View of slickrock going down
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    This is a hike that was said to be moderate to go down the the falls at the bottom of a ravine. It is located off Hwy 12 at mile marker 81. That is just to the south of Boulder about 20 miles, and 22 miles east of Escalante. This is the Calf Creek Recreation area. It is form camping/hiking, and there is also a Lower Calf Creek Falls; comment next page.
    The hike is strenuous. I did not read intently that the drop off down a very steep slick rock face is 600 feet. That meant your thighs were holding you back form tipping forward and rolling downhill. No exaggeration, it was tough. Once you get to the base of the hill there is sandy trails, and some rock climbing. The hike was about 3 1/4 mils, rather that the stipulated 2 1/2 miles. Go only in dry weather that has been that way for a while. Go with a partner since it is isolated and if you fall, you need help quickly because of the drop. Coming back uphill is also a factor to consider. They were not very deep now because of lack of rain. One is very slick underneath form algae of rock. Be careful. The drop of of the pools to the canyon below is 88 feet, and straight down. What fun.

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    Hogsback Road Stretch-Hwy 12

    by BruceDunning Updated Oct 29, 2009

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    Continuing road along narrow sides
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    This is the one part that give nervous worries to some, and maybe even me. There are no guardrails along the steep drop offs. The portion of the roads winds and has switchbacks for about 3 miles, while the whole section runs about 5 miles for steep drops off the edges. Elevation climb to 9, 200 feet is a challenge in some spots.
    The section of Hwy 12 did not get completed until 1935 by the CCC. Because of the difficulty in making a road on the peak of the ridge, it costs $1 million back then; maybe $30 million now. Before that the only transportation across Boulder to Escalante and for mail route was by mule. It took a while, and I am sure winter was a "trip"

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    Hell's BAckbone-It Broke Mine

    by BruceDunning Updated Oct 29, 2009

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    Information on the road
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    This sounded like a good idea to take an adventure into the outback a little way. I did check with some people first to inquire if it is acceptable for my sturdy 2WD SUV. I was told it should be okay. What they did not tell me is my teeth would chatter all the way from the washboard road. This road is closed in the winter due to its difficulty in driving, and snow clearing is minimal. I am not sure what the locals that live along the road do to get out, or maybe hibernate? The road is called an engineering feat; but maybe walking using your feet may an easier way to get around. It was a wagon route for years until 1940's, when final improvements were made.
    The road is 44 miles long and goes past the Posey Lake and back to Hwy 12 down road 12 miles; it is a loop around what is called Box Hollow Wilderness area. Elevation changes is another issue to consider; steep. The many steep switchbacks go over the mountain range, both sides. It was first built in 1933 by CCC during the Depression. That road washed out and was unpassable in winters, but by 1940, an acceptable road was complete.
    The road is located about 4 miles from Boulder to the south and just after the switchbacks of Hogsback section of Hwy 12; another story later. I got down the road about 7-8 miles and said why shake, rattle and roll and climb steep hills? I turned around

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    petroglyphs

    by richiecdisc Updated Jun 21, 2009

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    big horn or prong horn, only the artist knows

    Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument has a prehistoric past with ample fossils being found in the area but it also has strong and well preserved evidence of both Fremont and Anasazi tribes making the beautiful red rock canyons home. Both pictographs formed with color and petroglyphs formed by chipping away rock are readily found while out on the trails. This petroglyph of a mother and baby big horn sheep is a fine example and we came across it while hiking in the Buckskin Gulch

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    Grosvenor Arch

    by richiecdisc Updated Jun 21, 2009

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    an arch worth the drive (& walk)

    The Grosvenor Arch is an impressive 152 foot high and 100 feet wide double arch easily visited by driving one mile east of the Cottonwood Canyon Road. The arch is named after Gilbert H. Grosvenor, the founder of the National Geographic Society. There is a picnic table and pit toilets there, making it a convenient stop. While the arch is visible from there, a short walk will give you a chance to not only stretch your legs but also one to see just how high 150 feet is.

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    Hackberry Canyon

    by richiecdisc Updated Jun 21, 2009

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    the lovely Hackberry Canyon

    The Hackberry Canyon is a meandering hike up the aforementioned canyon that was recommended to us by some people we met at the White House campground. This is a walk that can go for miles and with more time and perhaps a bit earlier in the day we might have tackled more than the half mile or so we did. We were essentially walking along a sandy wash and in a wetter season, this would be a great place to while away the hours. Of course, you'd need a four-wheel drive to get in here then. It was hot and dry and though beautiful, we found ourselves hurrying back to the comforts of our air-conditioned car.

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    Cottonwood Canyon Road

    by richiecdisc Updated Jun 21, 2009

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    one desolate dusty road

    Even scenic drives in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument are for the adventurous. No slick paved roads in this park, not even one slicing through some of Utah's most scenic splendor en route to Bryce Canyon National Park. Cottonwood Canyon Road is forty miles of dirt road that is described as “often wash-boarded and full of ruts.”

    Though it can be traversed in dry conditions in a two-wheel drive vehicle, four-wheel drive is generally recommended. We did it in a Camry with no problems in very dry mid-May but inquire at the visitor center about current road conditions. It is a beautiful drive and you'll really escape the crowds on this remote stretch of road. You could never get out of the car except to snap a few photos of the amazingly colorful rock formations but why do that, there are some fine short walks to stretch your legs.

    It is a bit tricky to find the turnoff for Cottonwood Canyon Road. There is a small sign but best to use the odometer method. In this case, it's 10 miles from Big Water Visitor Center. They'll give you a rough map of the area, detailing the hikes with mileage between all the unsigned attractions. They will also give you a small but helpful guide to the drive with mileages and details of things to see as well as trail heads.

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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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