I’d never heard of it. Even after researching must-see spots for our Tour de Lance 2015 West, I had no idea if Grand Staircase-Escalante deserved to be included. It’s HUGE – almost 1400 square miles, bigger than the state of Rhode Island. Plus, saying it’s not easy to get there is a vast understatement. Much of the area is accessible only by winding dirt roads inaccessible in wet weather or on foot. Did I mention some of the most amazing hiking anywhere? I need to learn to backpack … not sure I can get David to agree. 🙂
Partially inaccessible wilderness with some of the most amazing scenery in the southwest — a BIG statement given that it’s in the same general area as Zion, Bryce and Capitol Reef National Parks!
A northern gateway ranger station in Escalante, UT is over 120 miles from the southern gateway “Abra Kanabra!” the Kanab UT ranger station. That’s not 120 miles as the crow flies, because there is no direct route through the wilderness. And that doesn’t include two more Ranger Stations, Cannondale and Big Water, UT.
Two days before we were leaving the area (after having spent several weeks), a Ranger at the Escalante BLM Ranger Station burst my bubble when he told us if we hadn’t hiked Spooky Gulch and Peek-A-Boo Gulch, we’d missed the best part of the park … WHAT???? We already hiked “The Wave”, one of the highlights of my life so far, drove the Cottonwood Canyon Road Scenic Byway … found the Grosnever Arch, Cottonwood Narrows, driven the Mule Dugway, spent more time in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument than another other National Park so far and yet the Ranger tells us we’ve missed it?
Yet unlike some of the surrounding “high on the radar” national parks, several of the highlights we didn’t even know about before leaving: Scenic Byway 12; Calf Creek Falls; The Wave; Burr Trail; Hole in the Rock Road; Cottonwood Canyon Road. It’s so big that I’m still not sure all these sites were included, but they’re stunning so I included them!
Sometimes photos say it much better than words … and at the end several links to things we missed that are absolutely on my bucket list and require a return visit to this area!
Hole in the Rock Road – Spooky Gulch & Peek-A-Boo — no photos since we missed them, much to our chagrin after the Ranger set us straight … more we missed… see a theme here?
Skutumpah Road with Willis Slot Canyon – yet another great hike we didn’t have time to include ….
Anything else we didn’t get to do that we should put on our list for another month (or more) in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument? Please leave a comment and share! Cheers! Jan