In the fall of 1879, Mormon settlers from St. George, Parowan, and Cedar City left to settle new territory in southeastern Utah at the request of LDS Church President John Taylor. The six-week journey turned into a treacherous six-month expedition, as pioneers endured 200 miles of grueling, rugged terrain and a nearly vertical 1200-foot cliff on the banks of the Colorado River.
The pioneers faced down the challenge by carving and blasting through the canyon wall to build a steep, rough road to the river’s shores. They nicknamed the crevice Hole in the Rock, through which they successfully managed to transport their supplies, 250 wagon-bound settlers, and more than 1000 head of livestock.
Today, the Escalante Hole in the Rock Heritage Center stands as a testament to that determined pioneer spirit. The nine-acre heritage site sits along Scenic Byway 12 near the entrance to the Hole in the Rock Road, and at the north end of the town of Escalante.
The Escalante Heritage (Hole-in-the-Rock) Center consists of an information plaza of kiosks telling about the Hole-in-the-Rock expedition and the settling of Escalante. There are two large murals, painted by artist Lynn Griffin, depicting the descent of wagons down through the Hole and the story of the last wagon down on the first day of descent.
This center is created to preserve, educate, and inspire while connecting with the place and the story. The visitor center has books and movies to help understand this incredible feat as well as local information, brochures, and souvenirs.
There is a Cabin/Visitor Center that contains further information on Escalante and the Hole-in-the-Rock expedition. A 15-minute video on the Hole-in-the-Rock expedition is shown upon request.
- The Cabin/Visitor Center is open Monday through Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm, April 1 through October 30.
- Restrooms are open 24 hours a day, April 1 through October 30.
- The Heritage Center is closed during the winter months.
- The Center has a webcam that tells the weather in this area.
The Escalante Hole in the Rock Heritage Center was in the works for twenty years. Phase One, completed in May 2011, includes a pavilion, outdoor murals, interpretation and orientations signs, a fire pit, drinking fountain, restrooms, and a gravel entrance road with a parking area for cars and busses. Phase Two will include a museum building. The plaza was funded by donations from the Utah Department of Transportation and the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Association. The LDS Church donated 9.5 acres of land for the memorial plaza.