Hikers’ Blog

ESCALANTE GRAND STAIRCASE NATIONAL MONUMENT

This will be our third trip to Escalante, and as was the case with our previous two trips (2015 & 2020), we will have a few new “trails” to explore. You veterans know why I used quotes…because there are few trails, per se, in this slickrock wonderland. For this reason, it is best to go with someone familiar with each route to ensure you return safely to the trailhead. Just ask John Burg about the risks of going it alone on a poorly marked slickrock route.

There will also be some repeat performances from previous years, notably the popular Dry Fork Slots (Peek-a-boo & Spooky), Neon Canyon/Golden Cathedral, Calf Creek Falls (Lower & Upper), Phipps Wash/Arch, and Bryce Canyon (multiple options).

New for this year are Bighorn Canyon or Willis Creek Narrows, Upper Boulder Creek, and The Gulch (off Burr Trail). Since these are unfamiliar to me, I plan to scout them early in May. Maps for these hikes may be changed as a result of scouting.

In addition, if there are other hikes not included on our schedule that you would be willing to lead, I welcome your input. As I alluded to earlier, we will not entertain any unescorted slickrock hikes. However, hikes that follow obvious trails are available as “self-guided” options, as long as there are at least two, preferable three or more, people on the hike. These include Kodachrome Basin State Park, Escalante River to Natural Bridge, and both Upper & Lower Calf Creek Falls.

We will depart for Escalante at 7:00am from Rifle Rest Area. Our first stop will be at Rabbit Valley (I-70 Exit 2), where you will have the option to hike McDonald Creek to pictograph panels (4 miles RT) or a 10-mile loop of the Jouflas Horse Trail. After the hikes, continue 84 miles west on I-70 past Green River, Utah, to the Hanksville turnoff (Exit 149) on UT 24. Follow UT 24 south 44 miles to Hanksville, turn right drive 47 miles through Capitol Reef to Torrey. Turn left on UT 12 and follow it 64 miles south to Escalante. Driving time is roughly 5-1/2 hours from Rifle or 4 hours from Rabbit Valley.