You might think Escalante, Utah, is just a blip on the map. It’s a town with less than 1000 residents, a small handful of restaurants, a few lodging choices, and a gas station. However, Escalante is the hub for all things outdoors in south central Utah where visitors can hike, rock climb, race around in ATVs, explore amazing slot canyons, and just get away from it all. The land surrounding Escalante, UT is public land for everyone to do what they enjoy. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument encompasses almost 3,000 square miles of pristine backcountry paradise.
Recently Becca, a MI OLA ambassador, and her husband pulled into town. Here is her #GetOutThere Guide to Escalante!
Hola MI OLA Mermaids! I’m Becca, a fellow mermaid who travels to the little obscure places on the map just to see what’s there. My husband and I call our 1978 Toyota Chinook home as we roam around the American West doing what we do best – exploring! I’ve narrowed down the many recreational activities available to my personal favorites for you to do your own exploring in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
The best beginner slot canyons : Peek-a-boo and Spooky Slot Canyons
With Peek-a-boo and Spooky Slot Canyons, you get a two for one deal! In one ½ day hike you can access two remarkable slot canyons. These slots aren’t technical, just a little rock scrambling with enough adventure to get your feet wet in the world of canyoneering.
To get there: Follow Hole in the Rock Road (BLM 200) for 25.9 miles. Turn left on BLM 252 and continue to the trailhead.
The best overnight backpacking trip : Reflection Canyon
Backpacking to Reflection Canyon is not for the faint at heart. You will be guaranteed blisters, sweltering heat, a hellacious desert slog, tricky navigating with a GPS, and incredible views. It’s 20 miles of rough going to say the least. With that being said, sunrise and sunset on the edge of a sandstone cliff overlooking the colorful lines of Reflection Canyon is an adventure you will surely never forget.
To get there: Follow Hole in the Rock Road for 52 miles to the following GPS coordinates (37°15’21.70″N, 110°57’47.25″W). You will need a 4×4 vehicle with high clearance to make it to the trailhead. From the trailhead, be sure to have GPS waypoints, a compass, plenty of water, and be sure to tell someone where you are going. Stop at the Visitor Center in Escalante before you go to get all the up to date information.
The best desert waterfall: Lower Calf Creek Falls
Lower Calf Creek Falls is a gorgeous, 126 ft waterfall smack in the middle of the desert providing relief on the hot days. An easy 6 mile roundtrip trail leads hikers to a Lower Calf Creek Falls plummeting into a pleasant swimming hole. It’s the perfect place to relax during the heat of the day for a picnic!
To get there: From Escalante, follow UT-12 west towards Boulder for 16 miles to the trailhead on the left hand side of the road.
Where to Stay:
The newest lodging option in the area are Escalante Yurts! A friendly husband and wife duo personally welcome into beautifully decorated yurts with homemade breakfast scones from a local bakery. If you visit Escalante, you must stay here!
Where to Eat:
Escalante doesn’t have too many restaurants to choose from but every single one of them are delicious. Believe me, I tried them all! My personal favorites are Circle D Eatery and Escalante Outfitters. Circle D Eatery has locally raised beef to refuel after a long hike, Escalante Outfitters offers delicious pizza as well as lunch to go.
To Keep in Mind as you Plan your Adventure
- Be sure to carry plenty of water and snacks. Hiking in the desert is not a casual stroll in the park!
- Stop at the Visitor Center to talk to the local rangers. Pick up trail maps and ask about weather conditions. Escalante is wayyyyy out there, be prepared.
- Plan a few days in Escalante to really get to know the area. You won’t be disappointed!
Happy Travels Mermaids!