The Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument, named for the 5,500-foot stairstep-like rise of formations from the rim of the Grand Canyon and up to the Bryce and Escalante River canyons.
Devils Garden Hoodoos in Grand Staircase Escalante
Devils Garden is a natural desert area featuring hoodoos, natural arches and other sandstone formations. The unpaved Hole-in-the-Rock Road is the main access road to the Devils Garden, beginning at its intersection with Utah Scenic Byway 12, 5 mileseast of Escalante. At 12 miles, there is a turnoff to the right leading to the Devils Garden area. The majority of the interesting sandstone formations are located near the parking lot.
Hiking in Grand Staircase Escalante
There are a number of day hikes right off of Highway 12, or that split off from dirt roads within the monument.
Escalante Natural Bridge
An easy day hike is over to Escalante Natural Bridge, a 4 mile round-trip jaunt. There’s a two-mile hike upstream through the Escalante River, ankle- to knee-high. The arch is 130-foot high with a 100-foot span.
Phipps Wash is a moderate hike at 4 miles round-trip. You’ll hike down the banks of the Escalante River to seek the Maverick and Phipps arches.
Lower Calf Creek Falls
More difficult is the 6 mile round-trip hike to reach Lower Calf Creek Falls — a 126-foot waterfall up a fantastic canyon. There’s a certain amount of bushwhacking involved in moving through the riparian vegetation, and you might get wet.
Boulder Mail Trail
For backcountry hikers, the Boulder Mail Trail is 16 miles one way and generally takes two to three days to finish this challenging hike. This was once the supply/mail route between the tiny hamlets of Boulder and Escalante. Most hikers star at the Boulder landing strip and arrange to be picked up at the end of the trailhead for the Upper Escalante River, just outside of Escalante.
Taking a third day on this hike allows time to explore the Phipps-Death Hollow Outstanding Natural Area — wild-looking slickrock with spires, grottoes, gullies and more.