Escalante Canyons Section
Location: South-central Utah, north and west of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Lake Powell. Escalante Canyons is the northeastern section of the Grand Staircase area and is most commonly accessed from the towns of Escalante and Boulder.
Geography and geology: The Escalante Canyons in the northern reaches of the monument begin as modest draws draining the flanks of Boulder Mountain, a lofty volcanic tableland that bounds the river basin to the north and northwest. Drainages begin on the broad terrace traversed by Hole-in-the-Rock Road, gradually making their way toward the Escalante River. Once these drainages carve routes into the resistant Navajo Sandstone, they quickly develop into a network of slickrock gorges that are the myriad veins feeding the main artery of the river. Particularly in the upper Escalante Canyons, just below Boulder Mountain, the slickrock gorges emerge so suddenly and with such profound dimensions, that it is a scene of visual inspiration rivaled in few places on the Colorado Plateau.
Navajo Sandstone is the predominant rock formation in the Escalante Canyons, and erosion has exhumed these ancient sand dunes and sculpted the resistant cross-bedded slickrock into a vast landscape of domes incised with innumerable serpentine canyons. This chiseled land is a true work of natural art that is an unforgettable sight to behold.
Visitor centers and entrances: There are no official entrances into the area, but a number of visitor centers surround the monument(s). The main visitor center to the Escalante Canyons section is the Escalante Interagency Visitor Center (755 W. Main St., Escalante, UT 84726; 435-826-5499; open 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM 7 days a week mid-March to mid-November, Monday through Friday the rest of the year; GPS 37.772789, -111.615537). The visitor center offers Escalante Canyon maps and great interpretive displays as well as helpful staff members who can answer your questions.
A smaller but interesting visitor center on the north side of the monument is in Cannonville. The Big Water Visitor Center and dinosaur museum is a great stop on the south side of the moment when visiting Lake Powell, Antelope Canyon, and Glen Canyon Dam, or hiking one of the numerous trails located within the Grand Staircase region.
Where to Stay
Overnight options: Hotels, motels, lodges and bed and breakfasts can be found in the towns of Escalante and Boulder to the north as well as in other small towns around the monument. Established campgrounds inside the Escalante Canyons section of the monument are Calf Creek Campground and Deer Creek Campground – both great places to spend a night or two. Additional camping opportunities can be found at Kodachrome State Park and Escalante Petrified Forest State Park. Primitive camping is also allowed in the monument (try to use established areas).
Nearest groceries and supplies: Various small towns surround the monument. Escalante to the north offers visitor services.
Climate and weather: Visitors come to the Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument region year-round, but most come during spring and autumn. Since the region is a desert environment, with daytime high temperatures often reaching 95 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit almost daily from June through August, summer is the least favorable time of the year for hikes and visits in the area.
Escalante Utah weather in the Spring (March through May) can be highly variable, with daytime high temperatures ranging from the 50s to the 70s, and nighttime lows ranging from 20 to 50 degrees. Occasional cold air fronts from the west and northwest can bring cold, windy conditions, rain showers in the lower elevations, and perhaps snow on the higher mesas, particularly in March and April. Generally warm, dry weather prevails between storm systems.
Autumn provides some of the most stable weather of the year. Clear, warm, sunny days and cool nights make this one of the most delightful seasons to visit the Grand Staircase-Escalante region. Expect daytime highs to range from the 70s and 80s in September to the 40s and 50s by November. Overnight lows typically range from 20 to 50 degrees.
Winter weather in the Escalante Utah region is cold and often windy, and deep snow sometimes covers the ground above 6,000 feet. Some high elevation areas may be rendered inaccessible by snow between December and mid-March each year.
When to visit: The The Escalante Canyons National Monument is open 24 hours a day year-round. Check visitor center hours and find more travel information on the BLM website.
Fees and Permits: Entrance is free. Overnight permits are required for car camping and backpacking. Stop in at a visitor center for a permit (also available at some established trailheads and campgrounds).
The Devils Garden Outstanding Natural Area is a miniature wonderland of Navajo Sandstone hoodoos, domes, narrow passages, and small arches, hidden from the view of drivers along Hole-in-the-Rock Road.
Egypt-Twentyfive Mile Wash Backpacking Trip
Explore deep into Utah's Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument on this strenuous backpacking trip. Get permit and hiking trail information here.
Between Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon national parks and perched on the edge of Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument, the town of Escalante offers access to some of the most beautiful parts of Southern Utah.
Escalante Petrified Forest
The Escalante Petrified Forest State Park is located at Wide Hollow Reservoir. This small reservoir is popular for boating, canoeing, and fishing.
Escalante River Trailhead to Maverick Bridge and Phipps Arch
This rewarding day hike combines a walk along the Escalante River, including at least one ford, with an ascent of dry Phipps Wash and a visit to two distinctive natural spans, Phipps Arch and Maverick Bridge.
Fiftymile Creek is a remote slickrock canyon of exceptional beauty. Seldom visited, the canyon offers solitude and classic scenery.
Forty Mile Ridge to Sunset Arch
Sunset Arch is a delicate, graceful span on the south slopes of Fortymile Ridge. Vistas along the way to the arch are far-ranging, and the walking is easy, with no obstacles, although it is not on an established trail.
Grand Staircase Family Guide
The Grand Staircase region is remote and rugged, but that doesn't mean it isn't a good option for families looking for adventure.
The allure of the Grand Staircase region — the bulk of which is contained in the Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument — is phenomenal. Sun-drenched Utah backcountry spreads out well beyond the visible horizon from the road, whether you’re traveling along the The All-American Road: Scenic Byway 12, or on Highway 89.
The Johnson Canyon Cruise is a 50.8-mile out-and-back course that begins in the Grand Staircase. Bring your bicycle to experience some prime Utah road biking.
Pack your sense of adventure and pull out your four-wheel-drive skills to venture down the historical Hole-in-the-Rock Road south of Escalante.
Peek-a-Boo & Spooky Gulch
Peek-a-Boo and Spooky Gulch slot canyons in the Dry Fork area of Escalante Utah offer backpacking hikers scenic views without special gear or know-how.
The Box provides a backcountry landscape like no other in the Escalante region. Here you find a blend of slickrock canyon and cliffs, mountain forest, and a clear, cold creek. Also suitable as a backpacking destination.
Turning the Lens on a Wintry Southern Utah
Discover some of the most picturesque places to photograph in Southern Utah, and learn some tips for how to shoot and travel responsibly.
Willow Gulch Trailhead to Broken Bow Arch
Willow Gulch offers one of the best short day hikes, also suitable as an overnight trip, in the lower Escalante Canyons. Interesting narrow passages, a ribbon of riparian foliage, beaver ponds in the small stream, and large Broken Bow Arch are major attractions.
Airstreams, cabins and RV sites on the grounds of an old drive-in movie theater near Bryce Canyon and Escalante,