THINGS TO DO
Within a half hour of leaving Escalante you can be exploring a desert slot canyon, casting a fly onto a mountain lake or stream, walking among colorful prehistoric petrified wood, mountain biking forested trails, or finding your own bit of magic in and around Escalante.
Lower Calf Creek Falls - Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Great hike for kids and families. Start at Calf Creek Campground, located 15 miles east of Escalante. This hike takes you up the canyon through lush riparian and desert upland areas where beaver dams, pictographs, granaries, and an amazing 126-foot waterfall can be found.
Fee - $5 day use
Distance – 6 miles round trip
Level – easy to moderate
Devil’s Garden - Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
The Devils Garden Outstanding Natural Area is an excellent place off Hole-in-the-Rock Road for an afternoon of exploring. There are about 200 acres of Navajo sandstone hoodoos, domes, slots and small arches. There are tables and pit toilets – making this a perfect place for an afternoon picnic.
Fee - none
Distance – variable
Level – easy
Escalante Natural Bridge - Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
This is a great summer hike that requires multiple river crossings. The hike begins at the only bridge to cross the Escalante River, 14 miles East of Escalante- park at the trailhead off of Highway 12. From there you will head upstream, crossing the river multiple times, for approx. 2.5 miles. The natural bridge will tower above you at rim level on the south side of the canyon.
Fee - none
Distance – 5 miles round trip
Level – moderate
Spooky and Peek-A-Boo - Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
This area is the most popular iconic set of slot canyons in the Escalante area,
also known as the Dry Fork Narrows. The best trailhead for this hike can be found 24 miles down Hole-in-the-Rock road. A second trailhead is located two miles further on a short side road. Peek-A-Boo Gulch presents a fun slot, while Spooky Gulch is very narrow, at some points only 10 inches wide. While popular, the trail to these slots is not marked or maintained and good maps and navigation skills are required.
Fee - none
Distance – 5 miles round trip
Level – moderate/strenuous
Zebra and Tunnel Slot Canyons - Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Zebra Slot Canyon is a very short, narrow slot canyon, named for its striped canyon walls. Tunnel is a wider canyon just downstream from Zebra. This hike can be found 7.8 miles down Hole-in-the-Rock Road and is accessed by walking a wash from Hole-in-the-Rock Road to Harris Wash. Zebra and Tunnel are located off of Harris Wash. Both canyons often have standing water in them.
Fee - none
Distance – 5.2 miles round trip (approx. 7 miles if adding Tunnel)
Level – moderate/strenuous
Coyote Gulch – Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
Nestled in the heart of Escalante’s canyon country, Coyote Gulch contains two arches, a natural bridge, and several waterfalls. This concentration of outstanding natural features makes Coyote Gulch the most popular backpacking destination of all the canyons of the Escalante. To ensure this area of proposed wilderness remains a special place for future generations, please follow all regulations and plan accordingly. When hiking in Coyote Gulch plan on encountering other visitors, particularly in the spring and fall. If solitude is one of your primary objectives, consider another route.
Fee - none, but backcountry permit and human waste removal are required. No dogs allowed.
Distance – variable (usually done as an overnight backpacking trip
Level – strenuous
Great Western Trail – Dixie National Forest
The Great Western Trail runs across Boulder Mountain and provides a great opportunity for hiking and mountain biking. The landscape of the forest is extremely varied in elevation, plant life, and geology. Hike in the rocky pinyon and juniper forests, through lush meadows full of wildflowers, through rugged lava fields, to high mountain lakes, or to the rim of mesa tops with scenic views of the lower red rock canyons below. There are many sections of the trail – see the forest service website for detailed information on each section.
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is know for its labyrinth of slot canyons. Ready to get slotty? Reach out to our to one of our local guide services for more information on how to experience the canyons safely.
Hole in the Rock Road
Follow the route of the last major wagon train the American frontier. The
unpaved Hole-in-the-Rock starts 4.5 miles east of Escalante on UT 12 and reaches the historic hole in the rock after 57 miles. This is a rough dirt road – check road conditions before heading out. Points of Interest:
Mile 12.0, Devil's Garden
Mile 26.5, Dry Fork Turn Off
Mile 36.4, Dance Hall Rock
Mile 39.1, Carcass Wash
Mile 45.7, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area Boundary
Mile 50.1, Hole-in-the-Rock Arch
Mile 57.2, Hole-in-the-Rock
Hwy 12- Burr Trail
The Burr Trail is spectacular and the first 30 miles are paved (from the town of Boulder to border of Capitol Reef NP) and include an easily accessible slot canyon (which locals refer to as Singing Canyon) in the amazing Long Canyon. There are many stunning landscapes to hike through including The Circle Cliffs, Wolverine Canyon, and The Gulch. The road is about 69 miles in its
Hell’s Back Bone Road
Construction of Hell’s Backbone Road was completed in 1933 by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), allowing vehicle traffic between Escalante and Boulder for the first time. Hell’s Backbone Bridge, a must-stop for taking photographs, allows travelers to pass above Sand Creek with views of the spectacular Box-Death Hollow Wilderness Area. This is a gravel road – 44 miles one way. Closed in winter.
There are several businesses in the communities of Escalante and Boulder that offer paid camping with showers and restrooms. See Camping page under Places to Stay.
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument offers unlimited camping in designated backcountry zones at no cost. There are two established campgrounds within the National Monument in our area – Calf Creek Campground and Deer Creek Campground. They are both first come, first serve and offer camp sites, picnic tables and bathrooms. There is no drinking water at Deer Creek Campground. There are nightly fees.
Dixie National Forest has ample camping in both established campgrounds and backcountry camping. Some of our favorite places to camp on the Mountain include Posey Lake Campground and Barker Campground.
Escalante Petrified Forest State Park offers a paid campground with showers and access to Wide Hollow Reservoir. The State Park is located 2 miles west of Escalante; this is a good option if you want to stay closer to town. Reservations are accepted.
There are hundreds of miles of fishing streams and dozens of fishable lakes on the Dixie National Forest! Beat the summer heat and cast a line on the many lakes and streams on Boulder Mountain. Game fish include brook, rainbow, cutthroat, and brown trout.
Check the Utah Division of Wildlife website for more information on fishing in Utah, along with where to purchase fishing licenses.
Within Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument, mountain bike riding is limited to designated roads, which include many inviting old two-track roads that traverse rarely traveled corners of the land, making for epic bike-packing possibilities.
Single track trails await adventurous riders on the Dixie National Forest, and the Escalante Petrified Forest State Park has recently established several well groomed single track biking trails. Check the local shops for newly printed trail maps created with the help of TASU.
Highway 12 has become a “must do” ride in the world's biking community. Most days you will see groups of sun-tanned riders passing through our towns. Some riders are sprinting between Boulder and Escalante, traveling light and attacking the tight turns and rapid descents at a heart-pounding pace. Others are on a cross-country adventure, packed with lots of gear and taking a leisurely pace. The scenery is so pleasing and the riding somewhat intense, both types of riders are in for the trip of a lifetime.
Escalante and Boulder, Utah have some of the clearest night skies in the country! You can always find a great spot to set up your camera and have an unobstructed view of the Milky Way. There are plenty of places here where you can pitch a tent and just stare at the sky. At the Head of the Rocks scenic lookout, ten miles east of town on Highway 12, you can park your car and get beautiful shots any time of the year.
The natural beauty here is endless, even the most amateur photographer can get a great shot. From endless vistas to amazing details in the slickrock, everywhere you look is a photographer's dream. Catch the most incredible sunrises and sunsets, late morning and early afternoon glow on slot canyon walls, then stay up late and watch the Milky Way drift across the inky black night sky.
Floating the Escalante River
The Escalante River is possible to float in Pack Rafts or Inflatable Kayaks during high water years in the spring. There is rarely enough water to float the river during the summer and fall months. Pack rafts are available for rent at Utah Canyon Outdoors. For more information on floating the river click here.
Wide Hollow Reservoir
At the Escalante Petrified Forest State Park is Wide Hollow Reservoir which offers a great place to take out a paddle board or kayak and swim on hot summer days. Paddle Out rents SUP's for day use on the reservoir during the spring and summer months.