Hiking to a Waterfall in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument

Guest Author: Benita Hogue


One of the best waterfall hikes in Utah can be found off of Highway 12 between Escalante and Boulder in Utah at Lower Calf Creek Falls in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. And when you visit the area, you’ll also pass through the famous Scenic Byway Highway 12, which makes the drive out even better.

You’ll need to bring along $5 cash for parking or your America the Beautiful pass.
There is a parking lot at Calf Creek Campground but since this is a popular trail it fills up quickly so get there early.
Restrooms are available at the parking lot.
Dogs are allowed but must be on a leash at all times.

Hiking Details:
This is a 6.7-mile out and back hike with 521 feet of elevation gain. The trail consists of mostly hard and soft sandy areas and most of it is flat. There were some areas where I wasn’t sure where to go so AllTrails helped. Along the way, you’ll see Navajo sandstone cliffs and a few flowing streams plus hear the melodious sounds of different kinds of birds. At the end of the trail, you are rewarded with a stunning and magical oasis consisting of a 126-foot waterfall surrounded by towering canyon walls. Depending on what time of year you go, you can also swim here. You’ll also notice how the temperature gets much cooler once you arrive. The waterfall is surrounded by sand and trees so it’s the perfect place to bring a picnic lunch. I highly recommend picking up a sack lunch to go from Escalante Mercantile & Grocery prior to your hike. And be sure to bring enough water and electrolytes.

Helpful tip:
Before starting your hike, pick up one of the pamphlets, which will provide you with more information about the 15 signposts you’ll see on the way to the waterfall. I wish I had known this because I kept seeing signposts and didn’t know what they meant. Luckily, on the way back, some hikers I met shared theirs and I got to learn some interesting facts about the area and its people and got to see some pictographs from afar (signpost #9).

Check the weather forecast for flash flooding before you go.

My favorite place to stay when visiting the area:
My favorite by far is Escalante Yurts in Escalante, Utah. The yurts are fully equipped with all the amenities of home that you could imagine including a bed, couch, TV, kitchen, bathroom, breakfast each morning and AC during the warmer months. It’s also a unique and memorable glamping experience. The owners Jan and Scott are also really sweet and are readily prepared to provide you with other hiking or eating recommendations for the area.
There’s also the option to camp at Calf Creek campground.

One of my favorite places to eat in the area:
Burr Trail Grill in Boulder, Utah. Outdoor seating is available along with good service plus they have some of the best homemade pies…I had a hard time choosing between ginger berry and chocolate whiskey. You also gotta try their crispy potatoes with the fry sauce! So good right after a hike.

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