October 22, 2014

Cottonwood Canyon Road Utah Fall is gorgeous all on its own. Add in the majestic landscape of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, and it becomes beyond breathtaking. As the temperatures cool with the arrival of fall, it’s a great time to visit Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. Fall is perfect for scenic drives, and hiking adventures in GSENM.

SCENIC DRIVES
Hop on Cottonwood Canyon Road from Cannonville and before you know it you’ll be transported through Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument on a rugged canyon road that harkens the Old West. From Cannonville, you can quickly reach Kodachrome Basin State Park, Grosvenor Arch, and Cottonwood Slot Canyon. Drive Cottonwood Canyon Road only under dry conditions.

Smoky Mountain

Smoky Mountain Road – Check for good weather and use an appropriate vehicle to explore this back country road.

Smoky Mountain Scenic Backway connects Scenic Byway 12 with Highway 89 through much of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument lands. Views of the Navajo Mountains, Glen Canyon NRA, and Lake Powell set the backdrop on this 78-mile remote mountain drive. Keep an eye out for smoke smoldering from the 100-year-old coal fires that still burn deep inside Smoky Mountain. Access Smoky Mountain Road from Escalante, in the heart of Bryce Canyon Country.

Dance Hall Rock

Dance Hall rock where pioneers once paused to sing and dance on their trek to eastern Utah.

Hole in the Rock Road begins on Scenic Byway 12 southeast of Escalante and runs clear through to Lake Powell. The dirt road is smooth and maintained for the upper 15 miles. Hole in the Rock Road leads to the famous pioneer passing down the 900-foot high cliffs to cross the Colorado River.

HIKES
Lower Calf Creek Falls is a great fall hike in Grand Staircase Escalante. Cooler autumn temperatures make for a pleasant hike along the sunny 3-mile trail to this desert waterfall paradise, so you can really enjoy the view and the points of interest along the way. Lower Calf Creek Falls trail is fairly easy with little elevation gain, along a maintained trail. The trailhead is signed Calf Creek Recreation Area, visible from Scenic Highway 12 between Boulder and Escalante.
Box Death Hollow

Explore Box Death Hollow wilderness area on foot.


If you’re looking for a real backcountry challenge in Grand Staircase, Death Hollow offers 14 miles round-trip of incredibly scenic hiking through dramatic canyons, and is well worth the challenge. Beginning just west of Boulder, the strenuous trail winds through the northern end of GSENM to the Escalante River/Death Hollow confluence near Scenic Byway 12. Arrange for a shuttle to pick you up at the end of the hike.

Grosvenor Arch

Grosvenor Arch on the Cottonwood Canyon road just below Kodachrome Basin State Park.

GSENM VISITOR CENTERS:
Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument Visitor Centers issue backcountry permits, which are required for overnight backpacking in GSENM. Visitor Centers are located in Escalante, Cannonville, and at Anasazi State Park.

As always, prepare well to go into the back country.  Bring sufficient water, food, and a proper vehicle to best experience out-of-the-way locations.  Learn more about Scenic Byways & Backways.


1 reply to “The Grand Staircase in Fall

  1. Tyson Steele

    Fall is seriously my favorite time in this area. I live in Escalante and I love the changing colors and the smells of the last cuts of hay. But I also love it mostly because there’s less people, heh (especially Dance Hall Rock area when some of the roads are washed out or too muddy to drive). When you’re hiking, there’s this general feeling about the air I can’t completely explain. I think it’s when crisp, northern winds sweep down off of bolder mountain that it makes you cherish the last bits of warmth left in October and November. For me, there’s a sort of therapeutic feeling in autumn which I wrote about recently. It makes you go out and live it while you can!

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Categories: Activities Fall Colors Grand Staircase Seasons