Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Camping | Hiking | Mountain Biking | Horseback Riding

 

 

 

Description

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is a dramatic, multi-hued landscape that is rich in natural and human history. Extending across 1.9 million acres of Utah lands, the Monument represents a unique combination of archaeological, historical, paleontological, geological, and biological resources. These strikingly beautiful and scientifically important lands are divided into three distinct regions:  the Grand Staircase, the Kaiparowits Plateau, and the Canyons of the Escalante.

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Monument Information

Information Centers:  The BLM information centers are located around the periphery of the Monument. BLM personnel at these centers can provide visitors with essential and detailed information. The centers also offer books and maps for purchase through our cooperating interpretive associations.

Kanab Resource Area Office
318 North 100 East
Kanab, UT 84741
435-644-2672, extension 0

Escalante Interagency Visitor Center
755 West Main
Escalante, UT 84726
435-826-5499

Cannonville Contact Station
Highway 12
Cannonville, UT
435-679-8981
Open March through November

Anasazi State Park
435-335-7382
Staffed Tuesday - Saturday from April to November.
Hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Paria Contact Station
Highway 89
44 miles east of Kanab, UT
Open March through November.

Permits:  Backcountry visitors can obtain free backcountry permits for overnight use in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument at the Escalante Interagency Office in Escalante, the Anasazi Visitor Contact Station in Boulder, the Kanab Resource Area in Kanab, or the Paria Contact Station at the Paria River. Permits can also be filled out at various trailhead register boxes at the beginning of a trip.
  

 

The Grand Staircase--A Museum of Earth History


The cream- and rose-colored cliffs of Navajo sandstone pictured here are the third in a series of great geological steps that ascend northward across the southwest corner of the Monument. This Grand Staircase-the Chocolate, Vermilion, White, Gray, and Pink Cliffs--spans five different life zones from Sonoran desert to coniferous forests. It is a masterpiece of geological and biological diversity.

 

 

The Canyons of the Escalante--Wonders in Water and Stone


The Escalante River cascades off the southern flank of the Aquarius Plateau, winding through a 1,000-mile maze of interconnected canyons. This magical labyrinth is one of the scenic wonders of the West. Even though Spanish explorer and priest Father Silvestre Velez de Escalante never wet a boot or even saw the river, his is the namesake given by the Powell survey crew that discovered and named the Escalante River in 1872.

 

 

 

 

 

The Kaiparowits Plateau--An American Outback


A vast wedge-shaped block of mesas and deeply incised canyons towers above the surrounding canyonlands. The isolated, rugged plateau is refuge for wildlife, rare plants, and a few adventure-ready individuals equipped to handle profound solitude and uncompromising wild country. "The Kaiparowits was the name for a point near the north end of the plateau so we decided to call the whole mountain by that name," wrote A. H. Thompson. It is a Paiute name meaning "Big Mountain’s Little Brother." Many sites from prehistoric cultures have been recorded on the Plateau. Many more are preserved for future study.

 

Camping

Developed Campgrounds
Developed campgrounds may be found at the perimeter of the Monument along Highways 12 and 89. BLM operates 2 developed campgrounds within the Monument, offering picnic tables, grills, and restrooms. Calf Creek campground, along Highway 12 between Escalante and Boulder, has 13 sites and is also the trail head for Lower Calf Creek Falls. There is a $7 nightly camping site fee and a $2 per carload day use fee. Deer Creek campground has 4 sites and is located 6 miles east of Boulder along the Burr Trail. It has a $4 nightly camping fee. There is a 14 day stay limit at all BLM sites.

Primitive Camping
Primitive camping continues to be popular in Escalante Canyons and other parts of the Monument. If you camp at a site not identified in this brochure, please find a location which shows signs of prior use as a campsite. Do not camp at trailheads or within 500' of corrals, springs, seeps, or streams.
We strongly recommend that you use a camp stove. For campfires, a metal fire pan, such as a garbage can lid or an old barbecue bottom, is recommended. Before breaking camp, transfer the cold, blackened ashes to your garbage container, and stow the fire pan in a separate bag. This way, other campers will find a clean camp for their own enjoyment. Bring your own firewood, since dead and down wood is important habitat for other creatures, and please do not take living plant material for any purpose.

 

Hiking

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument covers 1.9 million acres of public lands in Southern Utah, much of it accessible for hiking. Hiking in this rugged and remote area is mostly on unmarked routes. Find out what your skill level is by doing a day hike. Visit with BLM staff and plan extended hikes accordingly. These lands are rugged and primitive, appealing to those looking for an adventure. Remoteness, limited travel corridors, and low visitation have all helped to preserve this type of opportunity.

 

Hiking Route Descriptions

Escalante/Boulder Area

Lower Calf Creek Falls - Map: Calf Creek 7.5 quadrangle. This 2 3/4 mile (one way) interpretive trail begins from the Calf Creek campground ($2 per vehicle day use fee area). This hike is moderately difficult on a developed sandy trail which ends at 126-foot-high Calf Creek Falls.

 

 

 

Escalante Natural Bridge - Map: Calf Creek 7.5 quadrangle. This easy 2 mile (one way) hike begins from the Highway 12 bridge which crosses the Escalante River 15 miles east of Escalante. Park at the trailhead and hike upstream. Numerous river crossings are necessary in ankle to knee deep water. The natural bridge is on the south side of the canyon.

Phipps Wash - Map: Calf Creek 7.5 quadrangle. This route also begins at the Highway 12 bridge trailhead. Follow the marked route downstream past private property then hike in and out of the river until you get to the mouth of Phipps Wash which enters from the west. Maverick Natural Bridge (approximately 1.5 miles) can be found in a north side drainage of Phipps wash. Phipps Arch is accessed by scrambling up a south side drainage.

 

Peek-a-boo and Spooky Gulches  - Map: Big Hollow Wash 7.5 quadrangle. This is a moderate hike that explores narrow and challenging short slot canyons. Drive approximately 26 miles south on the Hole-in-the-Rock road to the signed Dry Fork turnoff on the left. Follow the road, keeping left, to the parking area. From the rim descend on a cairned route to the Dry Fork Wash. The canyon to your immediate left is called the Narrows and does not require scrambling or climbing skills. Peek-a-boo Gulch is a short distance downstream on your left and requires some climbing, and scrambling skill. The mouth of Spooky Canyon is approximately ˝ mile further downstream from Peek-a-boo and requires less scrambling skill although it is extremely narrow and may not be suitable for larger or claustrophobic people. Keep your eyes open for rattlesnakes. All three canyons can be hiked in a day.

Escalante River Gorge - Map: Escalante 7.5 & Calf Creek 7.5 quadrangle. Approximately 15 miles one way, 2 days. The signed trailhead is just east of Escalante. This moderate hike is in and out of ankle to knee deep water along the scenic upper Escalante River canyon. There are opportunities for side trips up Death Hollow and Sand Creek. The hike ends at the Highway 12 bridge trailhead. Flash floods are always a danger.

 

Boulder Mail Trail - Maps: Escalante 7.5 & Calf Creek 7.5 quadrangle. Approximately 16 miles one way, 2 days. Most people hike this route starting at the Boulder Airstrip trailhead off of the Hells Backbone road. This moderate to strenuous hike requires cross-country route finding abilities. The Boulder Mail Trail is an historic route that was once used to deliver mail and supplies by muleback between Escalante and Boulder. There are spectacular views and expanses of slickrock. It crosses Sand Creek, Death Hollow and upper Mamie Creek (dry). The route is marked sporadically by rock cairns and old telegraph wire.

The Gulch / Escalante River to Hwy 12 - Maps: King Bench 7.5, Red Breaks 7.5 & Calf Creek 7.5 quadrangles. Approximately 27 miles one way, 3-4 days. This hike starts at The Gulch trailhead off of the Burr Trail road and ends at the Highway 12 Bridge trailhead. This moderately strenuous hike has short sections of narrows in the lower Gulch which require difficult route scrambling, or to climb up and around on the west canyon rim. Route finding along the river can be difficult requiring negotiating through brush and tamarisk thickets along the river. May require deep wading in spots. No reliable water source in The Gulch during summer months. Flash floods are a danger.

Escalante River Hwy 12 Bridge to Harris Wash - Maps: Calf Creek 7.5, King Bench 7.5, Red Breaks 7.5 & Silver Falls 7.5 quadrangles. Approximately 37 miles one way, 4-5 days. This moderately strenuous hike starts at the Highway 12 Bridge trailhead and ends at the Harris Wash trailhead off of the Hole-in-the-Rock road. There is also a difficult route negotiating through brush and tamarisk thickets between Boulder Creek and The Gulch. This route requires walking in and out of mid-calf to knee deep water. There are opportunities for side trips up Boulder Creek, The Gulch, Horse Canyon and Silver Falls Canyon. Flash floods are definitely a danger.

Wolverine - Maps: Pioneer Mesa 7.5 & King Bench 7.5 quadrangles. Approximately 5 miles one way. This moderate hike down Wolverine Canyon to Horse Canyon starts at the Wolverine trailhead off of the Wolverine Loop road. Water is scarce or non- existent so plan on carrying all that you will need. The lower end of the canyon is quite narrow. Be aware of flash flood dangers.

 

Kanab Area

Lick Wash - Maps: Deer Spring Point 7.5 quadrangle. From Kanab drive east to the Johnson Canyon turnoff from highway 89. Travel north to the Skutumpah Road turnoff and travel east about 14 miles to Lick Wash. The mouth of the canyon is located approximately 2 miles from Deer Springs Ranch. There is no developed trailhead, but hikers can park on the flat at the mouth of the canyon. The canyon is approximately 3 miles long with no elevation change making it a fairly easy day hike. Be aware of flash flood dangers.

Starlight Arch - Maps: Five Mile Valley and Calico Peak. This feature lies west of the Paria Movie Set, which can be accessed from Highway 89 between Kanab, Utah and Page, Arizona. There is no established trail to the arch from the Paria Movie Set. The best way to access the arch is by hiking up the Paria River. This is a scenic day trip. Be aware of flash flood dangers.

Willis Creek - Map: Bull Valley Gorge 7.5 quadrangle. This area can be accessed from the Skutumpah Road. The creek is located approximately 25 miles northeast of the Johnson Canyon and Skutumpah road junction. There is no established trailhead into Willis Creek and both sides of the road are private property. Parking is available about ˝ mile northeast of the creek up the Willis Creek Road, or to the south of the creek along the Skutumpah Road. The narrow wash is lined with slickrock and makes for an adventuresome 2 mile day hike. For the more experienced hiker, a loop trip is possible down Willis Creek and up Sheep Creek to the Skutumpah Road. Flash floods are a danger.

Cottonwood Creek - This small slot canyon is located approximately 3 miles south of Grosvenor Arch along the west side of Cottonwood Canyon Road. The small slot canyon runs parallel with the road for about ˝ mile and makes for a short scenic one to two hour hike. Although there is no developed trailhead for the canyon, hikers can park along the side of Cottonwood Canyon Road. Maps: Butler Valley 7.5 quadrangle.

Hackberry Canyon - This 14 mile canyon parallels the Cottonwood Canyon Road. The mouth of the Canyon is accessible from the Cottonwood Canyon Road, and is located about 15 miles north of Highway 89. Parking is available along the Cottonwood Canyon Road. No established trail exists in the canyon, but the route is self defined through the drainage. The Canyon offers enchanting one to three day hikes. The canyon is narrow and increases in elevation heading north. Some rock scrambling is involved. Several springs are located in the canyon, and can be utilized for drinking water if treated, however, expect to share them with permitted livestock. Maps: Calico Peak and Slick Rock Bench 7.5 quadrangle.

 

Paria River/Coyote Buttes

Paria River/Coyote Gulch Fee Demonstration Project

The Paria Canyon/Coyote Buttes Recreation Fee Demonstration site is managed as a partnership by the Arizona Strip Field Office and the Kanab Resource Area, Bureau of Land Management, Northern Arizona University, and the Arizona Strip Interpretive Association under the authority of Public Law 104-134. The project implements a fee/permit system for Paria Canyon, the White House Campground, and Coyote Buttes. The project uses visitor generated fees to enhance and maintain wilderness resources and visitor services.

 

Mountain Biking

The Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument covers 1.9 million acres of public lands in Southern Utah, with several hundred miles of roads and trails. Many of the routes are ideal for family or group, vehicle supported trips. Mountain biking is a refreshing way to experience the variety of landscapes that the Monument has to offer. These lands are rugged and primitive, appealing to those looking for an adventure. Remoteness, limited travel corridors, and low visitation have all helped to preserve this type of opportunity.

Route Descriptions

Escalante/Boulder Area

Cedar Wash Loop - From Escalante ride east on Highway 12 to the Hole in the Rock Road and follow the signs to Cedar Wash Road which returns to town. Fairly level route with views of the Straight Cliffs and access (short hikes) to two natural arches. Approximately 20 miles round trip. Use Dave Canyon 7.5 quadrangle map.

Alvey Wash Loop - From Escalante follow the Smoky Mountain (Alvey Wash) Scenic Byway south to Little Valley Wash and return north to Highway 12 on the Pet Hollow road. A scenic ride through the upper canyons of the Kaiparowits Plateau. Approximately 32 miles round trip, 600-foot elevation gain. Use Dave canyon, Death Ridge, and Canaan Creek 7.5 quadrangle maps.

Wolverine / Circle Cliffs Loop - This tour leaves the Burr Trail 19 miles east of Boulder. Ride south on the Wolverine Canyon road which loops back to the Burr trail after 29 miles. Complete the loop by riding west on the Burr Trail 14 miles. This ride features spectacular views of the Circle Cliffs, the Wolverine Petrified Wood Natural Area, Little Death Hollow, and historic uranium mines. Many good camping sites. Approximately 43 miles round trip, fairly level route. Use Lamp Stand, Pioneer Mesa, Wagon Box, and Bitter Creek Divide 7.5 quadrangle maps.

Egypt - Begin from Hole in the Rock Road 16.5 miles south of Highway 12. Ride east, crossing Twentyfive Mile Wash, to the Egypt Trailhead (mountain bikes are not allowed on the trail). Outstanding views of the Escalante River Canyons. Approximately 10 miles one way, 300-foot elevation gain, Use Egypt 7.5 quadrangle map.

Fiftymile Bench - Begin from Hole-in-the-Rock Road at Willow Tank, 34.2 miles south of Highway 12. This route heads up Willow Tank slide to Fiftymile Bench, south along the bench, and descends down Sooner Slide to Hole-in-the-Rock Road. Return north to Willow Tank. The route follows the Straight Cliffs high above the desert floor with far vistas of the Escalante River Canyons, Henry Mountains, and Glen Canyon Country. Approximately 27 miles round trip, strenuous elevation gain of 500 feet. Use Big Hollow Wash, Blackburn Canyon, and Sooner Bench 7.5 quadrangle maps.

 

Big Water Area

Nipple Loop - This route leaves Big Water and heads north along Nipple Creek Wash to Nipple Butte (approximately 14 miles one way). From Nipple Butte a loop can be made down Tibbet Canyon (approximately 12 miles). Views of Smoky Mountain, lower Kaiparowits Plateau, and Lake Powell. Be prepared for steep climbs. Roads not passable when wet. Use Nipple Butte and Tibet Bench 7.5 quadrangle maps.

Smoky Mountain/Smokey Hollow Loop - From Big Water ride east on the Warm Creek Road into Glen Canyon National Recreation Area to the intersection with the Smoky Mountain / Smoky Hollow Roads (approximately 16 miles one way). Continue north up Warm Creek / Smoky Hollow to the Smoky Mountain Road and return south on this road to Glen Canyon  National Recreation Area (approximately 31 miles). This route is long and strenuous. Outstanding canyons and views of Lake Powell. Roads are not passable when wet. Use Smoky Hollow and Sit Down Bench 7.5 quadrangle maps.

South Cottonwood Canyon - Access to the Cockscomb and lower Cottonwood Canyon from Highway 89 or Highway 12. A well-traveled road with interesting geologic formations and shady cottonwood groves. Approximately 46 miles from Highway 89 to Kodachrome Basin State Park. Be prepared for steep climbs. The ride is easier starting at Kodachrome Basin and riding south. The road is not passable when wet. Use Lower Coyote Springs, Horse Flat, Butler Valley, and Slick Rock Bench 7.5 quadrangle maps.

Paria Movie Set - From Highway 89 ride north approximately 6 miles to the Paria Movie Set. Across the Paria River is the ghost town of Old Pahreah. Return the same route to Highway 89. Steep climb out of the Paria Valley. Road not passable when wet. Use Five Mile Valley 7.5 quadrangle.


Cannonville Area

Grosvenor Arch/Long Flat Loop - Begin at Kodachrome Basin State Park and ride east following the signs to Grosvenor Arch (approximately 13 miles). From Grosvenor Arch a loop can be made by continuing south and east 6 miles to Long Flat, turn south for 2.5 miles. Turn west for 4 miles to the spring and return north 6 miles to Grosvenor Arch. Be prepared for steep climbs. Roads are not passable when wet. Use topo quads Butler Valley, Horse Flat, 4 Mile Bench.

 

Kanab Area

Johnson Canyon / Skutumpah Roads - The Johnson Canyon Road, 11 miles east of Kanab on Highway 89, provides access to the canyons and terraces of the Grand Staircase. Many rides of varying lengths can be made from Johnson Canyon and Skutumpah roads. It’s approximately 65 miles from Highway 89 to Cannonville on Highway 12. Be prepared for steep climbs. The Skutumpah Road is not passable when wet. Use topo quads Skutumpah Creek, Deer Springs Point, Deer Range Point, Bull Valley Gorge, and Cannonville.

Sand Gulch - This route follows an existing road that presents a back way in to the Paria Movie Set. For mountain bike riders, this is a great route as traffic is low. The route can be accessed from Highway 89. The turn off for the ride is at the corral one mile west of the Paria Movie Set turn off. The corral area offers plenty of space to park and unload bikes. The route follows the road out of the corral heading west for about a mile and a quarter, then makes a sharp turn back to the east, ending at the Paria Movie Set. The route provides a good afternoon ride for a round- trip of 12 miles to and back from the Movie Set. There are no steep elevation changes, but there is a wide wash to cross to get into the Movie Set. Topo quads Eight-Mile Pass and Five- Mile Pass and Five-Mile Valley.

 

Horseback Riding 

The Monument offers numerous opportunities to experience the backcountry by horse. The varied landforms provide horse riders with a variety of challenging terrain for all skill levels. These lands are rugged and primitive, appealing to those looking for adventure. Remoteness, limited travel corridors, and low visitation have all helped to preserve this type of opportunity.

 

Route Descriptions

Escalante/Boulder Area

The Lower Gulch - Map: King Bench 7.5 quadrangle. This ride begins along the Burr Trail. It is a picturesque canyon ride which follows the stream bed for approximately 5 ˝ miles downstream before it becomes impassable to horses. In several areas the route narrows and you may encounter boggy conditions and quicksand. Water is usually reliable in the upper end of the canyon, but dries up in the lower end during the summer months. Deerflies are a definite problem in late May, June and July. Flash floods are always a possibility.

Deer Creek - Map: King Bench 7.5 quadrangle. Approximately 7 miles one way. This route begins near the Deer Creek campground off of the Burr Trail road. Once you leave Deer Creek there is no water, even in The Gulch, unless you ride early in the year (before late June). Route is over slickrock and deep sand, some areas are quite steep. This ride is only for experienced riders and horses in good trail shape. You can combine The Gulch and Deer Creek to make a longer ride.

The Lower Gulch/Horse Canyon/Escalante River/Silver Falls Route - Map: King Bench 7.5, Red Breaks 7.5 & Silver Falls 7.5 quadrangles. Approximately 25 miles one way, 4-5 days. This is a very strenuous route beginning at The Gulch trailhead (see previous route descriptions). You exit The Gulch and go across King Bench to descend into Horse canyon on a steep, hazardous route. Then ride downstream in Horse Canyon to the Escalante River where you should expect to encounter quicksand in places and areas of dense willow and tamarisk. The route up Silver Falls Canyon (in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area) has some intermittent water part of the year but by late spring expect it to be dry. This ride should not be attempted except by very experienced riders and horses, and only when trail is in good condition.

Kanab Area

The Lower Gulch - Map: King Bench 7.5 quadrangle. This ride begins along the Burr Trail. It is a picturesque canyon ride which follows the stream bed for approximately 5 ˝ miles downstream before it becomes impassable to horses. In several areas the route narrows and you may encounter boggy conditions and quicksand. Water is usually reliable in the upper end of the canyon, but dries up in the lower end during the summer months. Deerflies are a definite problem in late May, June and July. Flash floods are always a possibility.

Deer Creek - Map: King Bench 7.5 quadrangle. Approximately 7 miles one way. This route begins near the Deer Creek campground off of the Burr Trail road. Once you leave Deer Creek there is no water, even in The Gulch, unless you ride early in the year (before late June). Route is over slickrock and deep sand, some areas are quite steep. This ride is only for experienced riders and horses in good trail shape. You can combine The Gulch and Deer Creek to make a longer ride.

The Lower Gulch/Horse Canyon/Escalante River/Silver Falls Route - Map: King Bench 7.5, Red Breaks 7.5 & Silver Falls 7.5 quadrangles. Approximately 25 miles one way, 4-5 days. This is a very strenuous route beginning at The Gulch trailhead (see previous route descriptions). You exit The Gulch and go across King Bench to descend into Horse canyon on a steep, hazardous route. Then ride downstream in Horse Canyon to the Escalante River where you should expect to encounter quicksand in places and areas of dense willow and tamarisk. The route up Silver Falls Canyon (in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area) has some intermittent water part of the year but by late spring expect it to be dry. This ride should not be attempted except by very experienced riders and horses, and only when trail is in good condition.

 

 

For Additional Information Contact:

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
180 W. 300 N.
Kanab, UT 84741
(435) 644-4300

 

For more information visit the National Park Service website