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 are 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). There is glamping accomodations are available nearby at Yonder Escalante. To make a reservation, visit stayyonder.com or cal (435) 826-4440.
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).