08 August, 2023

One day at Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

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The Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument is a protected landscape which spans across 1.87 million acres public lands in Southern Utah. This monument is on the way from Bryce Canyon National Park to Capitol Reef National park on scenic highway 12.

Read the previous travelogues here:

Zion National Park - Part1

Zion National Park - Part2

Bryce Canyon National Park

Escalante National Monument:

In the 1870s, geologist Clarence Dutton described the Grand Staircase as a 

"huge stairway ascending out of the bottom of the Grand Canyon northward with the cliff edge of each layer forming giant steps." 

These steps rise 5500' from the floor of the Grand Canyon to  Bryce Canyon. The distinct steps are the Vermilion Cliffs, the White Cliffs, the Gray Cliffs and the Pink Cliffs.

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How to Reach?

We flew to Las Vegas and drove to Hurricane to visit Zion, stayed in Panguitch to visit Bryce Canyon National Park and drove from Bryce to Escalante by renting a car

Here are a few economical options to fly to Las Vegas:

Where to Stay:

We took accommodation in Circle D motel in Escalante. It's clean and perfect. No breakfast but the rooms are well maintained. This is nearer to Hole-on-the-rock road.

Here are some options to stay near Escalante National Monument:

Hiking Trails:


On highway 12, on the way to Escalante, there are many interesting spots to visit. Cannonville is around 20 mins from Bryce Canyon. This is considered to be an easy hike to watch slot canyons. Start at Willis creek trailhead and after first 1.3 miles you will be in the narrow part of slot canyon. 

Kodachrome Basin State Park :

This park is about 7 miles from Cannonville. There are multiple hiking trails in this park, but Grosvenor arch seemed interesting and easy to hike. Grosvenor arch trail is easy 0.2 miles trail but the drive through dirt road to reach parking lot might be a little tough. This double arch is seen in a lot of Escalante travel brochures. 

Image by LoggaWiggler from Pixabay

Cedar wash arch in the same area is 1 mile hike. You can pair it with covered wagon natural bridge.

We couldn't cover Cannonville and Kodachrome Basin State Park as it's very remote and needs a lot of driving on dirt roads, but we will do these trails some other time.  

Escalante monument is remote and have many primitive roads to drive. We reached Escalante in the evening from Bryce canyon national park. We checked into our hotel and started our drive to 'Hole on the Rock' road.

The'Hole-in-the-rock' trail extends from Escalante to Bluff. It is a short cut used my Mormon pioneers to cross the Colorado river. 

Devil's Garden:

Devil's Garden is a good family friendly place to visit in Escalante National monument. You can visit the visitor center and drive 12 miles on Hole-on-The-Rock road from Scenic byway 12 to reach the parking lot for Devil's Garden. 

Hole-on-The-Rock road is very washboard and so ,you have to drive slowly. Expect a lot of driving time even though it's 12 miles. You don't need a 4 wheel drive though.

From the parking lot, it's a short hike of 0.4 miles in between hoodoos, rock formations and arches. This arch is so huge and looked spectacular. 

This place was very nice during sunset, but we couldn't stay long as the drive back to hotel is tough on this road without day light.

Love this pic.. looks dramatic :-)

Peek a boo and Spooky Slot Canyons:

These slot canyons are at dry fork road when you drive 26 miles on Hole-on-The-Rock road from Scenic byway 12. Since the road is primitive and it's already evening, we couldn't go to these canyons on that day.

This total hike is 3.5 miles loop. You have to hike 1.4 miles to reach Peek a boo gulch, after you exit this canyon, you have to hike 0.5 miles to reach Spooky gulch. This is a tough hike to do with kids and the place is remote too. But, I heard it's one of the best hikes as kids will enjoy these slot canyons. Just plan ahead, carry more water and snacks. Give it more time.

Lower Calf Creek Falls:

The next day morning we planned to cover Lower calf creek falls and Anasazi State park museum on the way to Torrey. But, we were super tired after the hikes from Bryce and Zion, so couldn't attempt to hike 6 miles to visit Lower calf creek falls.

Escalante Natural Bridge:

This is a 3.5 mile loop trail to reach the huge Escalante Natural bridge. But, it's tough with younger kids as there are multiple river crossings to reach the bridge.

The drive from Escalante to Torrey was fantastic. The roads, scenic views,  ups and downs, rock formations etc., were very scenic. 

Just before reaching Torrey, the scenery changed a lot. Many Aspen trees and mountain views were similar to the scenery in Colorado.

Here are some food options around:

  • Circle D Eatery
  • Escalante Outfitters Pizza
  • Nemo's
  • Kiva coffee house - best hot chocolate
  • Magnolia's street food - food truck , breakfast burritos
  • Burr trail grill in Boulder between Grandstaircase and Capitol reef

Our Next stop is Capitol Reef National Park. We definitely under-estimated this park thinking it won't be as good as Zion or Bryson. It proved us wrong. Capitol Reef is beautiful and there is a lot to hike there.

More details on my next travelogue.

Until next time,

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