In this page, you will find informations and advices we can give, based on our experience
Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument - Utah
"Hole in the Rock Road area"
What to do if you have little time : Devil's Garden
Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, with an area of about 1,87 millions acres is full of sights to visit. As a result, you can easily spend 2 to 3 days or more there (you'll find plenty to keep you busy even if you stay a week).
Many of these sites are on the Hole in the Rock Road, a 62 miles long trail that can quickly become impassable after heavy rains. In dry weather, it is passable for any taller car except for the last 5 miles, which require a 4WD. However, if you want to venture on the secondary tracks, they are often sandy and a 4WD is imperative. Ask about road conditions at the BLM in Escalante.
The other popular trail is Cottonwood Canyon Road with its iconic sites such as Yellow Rock and Grosvenor Arch. Again, the trail becomes impassable during heavy rains. The very sticky clay can keep you trapped. Ask about the weather conditions before you go.
Perhaps less well known are the Skutumpah Road and Johnson Canyon Road areas, which also have their own attractions, such as Willis Creek and Johnson Canyon, respectively. Finally, around Escalante are a few sights including Lower Calf Creek Fall, the Burr Trail which allows you to leave the National Monument to the east, passing through fabulous scenery, and finally the magnificent Highway 12.
- It is often very hot, between 95°F and 104°F in summer, and very dry. Because of the often difficult weather conditions, it is necessary to bring plenty of water.
- It is imperative to check the condition of the trails, no matter which one, before going on them: they can all be treacherous. Even if the weather is good but the forecast indicates that it will rain, you should not use them. If you get stuck, it can take a long time to fix the problem and it can be very expensive!
- Don't miss the pizzas at Outfitters Campground Restaurant in Escalante. They are delicious and huge. Special mention for the Kings Mesa!
Zebra Slot Canyon and North area of Zebra
Zebra Slot Canyon, as well as Tunnel Slot, are often flooded. It is therefore imperative that you find out about the condition of the canyons before you go. When we visited in 2013, they were flooded and we were unable to venture in. We were luckier in 2022 with Zebra as the water was only present quite a ways into the canyon, past the most beautiful area.
Zebra is one of the most beautiful slot canyons in the west. The hike to get there is easy (2,5 miles one way) except for the fact that there is very little shade on the way. The access to the most beautiful part is quite acrobatic but fun. The canyon is, in some places, so narrow that it is impossible to walk on the bottom. You have to climb up the two walls: your feet on one wall, your back on the other.
In April 2022, we combined this hike with the area north of Zebra which leads to a small oasis through a moqui-ball field. This combination is 10 miles round trip. In this case, it is necessary to count 4h30 round trip.
It is also possible to combine Zebra with Tunnel Slot Canyon. The hike is then 7,5 miles round trip. About 2 miles from the beginning of the hike, you will come to a wash. If you take this wash to the right (southeast) you will be heading to Tunnel Slot. If you go to the left (North-East) you will go to Zebra Slot.
Access : On US 12, take the Hole in the Rock Road for 8 miles (passable for all types of vehicles). Just after a cattle fence, park in a parking lot on the right. The trailhead is on the other side of the road from the parking lot.
This is one of the best tours near Escalante. Better to go in late afternoon to enjoy the colors of the sunset. The site is quite small and has rock formations of different shapes: arches, "hoodoos" ... Devil's Garden is also a great place for starry night amateurs.
Photo Tip : for night pictures, the only requirement is to have an SLR camera and a tripod of course. The best is to have a lens with a large aperture and / or a camera that can climb high enough in the ISO. With a wide angle (15-20mm) lens, you can try exposures up to 10 or 12 seconds before the stars begin to form streaks.
Access : on US 12, take the Hole in the Rock Road for 12.5 miles. Take care: this is a fairly rugged trail. This portion of the road is easily practicable for all types of vehicles.
Dry Fork and Spooky Gulch
0,6 mile one way
2 to 3 hours
Hike that leads to several slots canyons: Dry Fork, Peek-a-Boo and Spooky Gulch.
From the car park, just follow the cairns down to the bottom of the canyon. Dry Fork is located immediately on the left. As to Spooky Gulch, it is further to the right. This slot canyon narrows as we progress. Peek-a-Boo is between those canyons.
Access : on US 12, take the Hole in the Rock Road for 25 miles and then on the left a trail indicating Dry Fork Coyote Gulch for another 1.8 miles. Take care : this is a fairly rugged trail. With a normal car (not a 4WD), it took us 2:15 !
We have tested :
Copyright Magali and David BELLEC