Time to present wild expanse of Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument, full of narrow, multicolored canyons, caves, rocks, mud, water and adventure!
The Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument is one of those places in Utah that is hardly visited. It’s been overshadowed by surrounding national parks: Bryce Canyon, Zion, the Capitol Reef, even Arches or Canyonlands. It’s hard to find detailed information about it. To be honest, when we came there it turned out how it really looked like. To save your time on googling, we collected all information in one place with a hope of inspiring you before your USA Road Trip
First of all, we must point out that the attractions of the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument is an endless story. We’d have to spend weeks or even months to explore everything. It seems that Mother Nature’s had a lot of fun out here, creating huge canyons (narrow and those large), various rock formations (including hoodoos), caves, waterfalls, mountains, arches, natural bridges.
The Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument is a vast area. However, we will focus on the desert near the town of Escalante, because we spent most of our time over there (it’s usually called: Canyons of the Escalante). Hole-in-the-Rock Road begins as an unpaved road 4.5 miles east of Escalante on UT 12 ( first 38 miles passable by 2wd, then high clearance only). Here you can find the hikes described in this post.
Click on the map to see its detailed version (credit: Wikipedia).
Almost all trails by Hole-in-the-Rock are unmarked. They lead through rocky and sandy deserts. Although in most cases we didn’t have trouble finding the right path, bringing GPS or just a fully charged phone with offline maps would be a wise move. Don’t forget about the water!
Length: ~ 5 miles (return)
Comments: Slot is often full of water, in some spots it reaches a waist!
2. Jacob Hamblin Arch / Coyote Gulch
Length: ~ 4.5 miles (return), if you do an additional hike to the Coyote Natural Bridge add 3.8 miles (return)
Comments: Trail leading from 40 Mile Water Tank is totally unmarked and easy to get lost! It’s hard to follow the trails as it leads through a rocky desert. Jacobs Hamblin Arch can be reached in many ways:
- From Hurricane Wash (about 7.5 miles one-way), parking lot: https://goo.gl/maps/sStKmqqj6fG2
- Through Coyote Gulch (about 8 miles one-way – multiple day hike, parking lot: https://goo.gl/maps/6zKM9wuozN82);
- From 40 Mile Water Tank Parking Lot: https://goo.gl/maps/oavdQfjpxF72
3. Peek-a-boo Slot Canyon, Spooky Gulch i Dry Fork Narrows Slot Canyon
Length: ~ 4 miles (loop)
Comments: The road leading to the trailhead is 4×4 only (that’s what sign says but if you’r brave enough you could do it in any car) but you can park your car about 1 mile away, on the junction. All canyons are next to each other and near the parking lot: https://goo.gl/maps/Nwbq3ya9h6K2
The Dry Fork Narrows is dry ( 😀 ) Only at the very end is a small puddle.
Peek-a-boo entrance requires some physical strength. Moreover, the whole slot is full of mud and knee-height water. The place is very narrow – it’s certainly not advisable to squeeze with a larger backpack. Even overweighted people may experience problems with getting through the slot.
After leaving Peek-a-boo you can walk through the Spooky Gulch back entrance. Narrow canyon again, but this time without water. It’s quite dark in some spots and requires some scrambling.
Dry Fork Narrows:
It is said that the Escalante slots are a combination of the famous Antelope Canyon and the Wave, so if you are bothered by the crowds in the Antelope Canyon or you were unlucky in the Wave lottery, then canyons described in this post can be a good alternative! 🙂