This road has major historical significance and also leads to some of Bryce Canyon Country’s most incredible slot canyons.
Late in 1879, Mormon settlers from southwestern Utah were organized to settle a new part of the Utah territory in what is now southeastern Utah. What was planned to be a six-week journey became a treacherous six-month venture for approximately 250 pioneers who endured 200 miles of the most grueling terrain in Utah.
The Pioneers had a relatively easy time of it as they followed a course that is now known as the Hole in the Rock Road to a point on the cliffs above the Colorado River where they believed they could lower their wagons and cross the river on rafts.
The pioneers took on the challenge by blasting and carving their way through a notch in the canyon wall and building a very steep road to the river’s edge. The pioneers called the crevice Hole in the Rock, and with great time investment and effort, they managed to transport their supplies, 250 wagons, and over 1000 head of livestock down through the notch. Once at the bottom of the canyon they crossed the river and then created a road out the other side of the canyon. The hardest parts of the trek were still ahead of them between what is now Lake Powell and the community of Bluff, Utah.
In recent years the Escalante Hole in the Rock Heritage Center has been built and is a nine-acre heritage site that sits along Scenic Byway 12 in Escalante, Utah. The plaza includes large murals that illustrate the Hole in the Rock.
While the Hole in the Rock road is a dirt road, it is wide, well maintained, and passable for most vehicles during good weather. Many visitors venture down this road to hike into slot canyons such as Peek-a-boo, Spooky, Egypt, Coyote Gulch, and more. Also along this road is Devil’s Garden, which is very much a natural play-land for adults and kids with its curious rock formations and arches.
In the Coyote Gulch section of Escalante Canyon, Stevens Arch is one of many impressive formations with a 220-foot span. This so-called shelter arch is found at the junction of Coyote Gulch and Stevens Canyon.
Stop at the federal Visitor Center in Escalante for more details on this area and for information on how to have a safe, enjoyable, and educational experience. Please note, backpacking permits are required from the BLM for overnight experiences in this area.