Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is separated into three distinct districts that cover 1.7 million acres in Utah, connecting it to Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Capitol Reef National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park. The three units of the national monument are Escalante Canyon, Kaiparowits and Grand Staircase. While the part of the Escalante Canyon and Kaiparowits units of the national monument are in Bryce Canyon Country, the majority of the national monument is located in Kane County, Utah, near Kanab. The area offers a vast expanse of desert land for exploration where visitors can hike, observe wildlife and photograph the view. There are many activities in this area that will feed your need for adventure. When visiting Grand Staircase-Escalante, you’ll find numerous things to do and places to see that will make your experience unique and memorable.
What to See
In the western corner of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, the sandstone rock formation, Grosvenor Arch, is visible. The arch is named after Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor, president of the National Geographic Society, the publisher of the National Geographic magazine. The arch is located along state route 12, 9 miles south of Kodachrome Basin State Park. It is ideal to use a 4-wheel drive car on this 10-mile, dry-weather road called Cottonwood Canyon Road. With the nature of the road, it is best to see Grosvenor Arch between March and November. This arch is ADA accessible, as it is found at the end of a concrete sidewalk from the parking lot. Pit toilet restrooms are also available at this location. Dogs are allowed on this trail but must be kept on a leash.
Calf Creek Recreation Area
Calf Creek Recreation Area is located between Escalante and Boulder on Byway 12. Within this region, the Calf Creek Recreation Area Campground has 13-sites, a day-use picnic area and the trailhead to Lower Calf Creek Falls. This family-friendly, fairly easy hike is about 6 miles roundtrip, but don’t let that scare you off from one of the most beautiful waterfalls. The waterfall cascades for 130 feet and is a wonderful photo opportunity If you’re looking for a shorter hike, Upper Calf Creek Falls is an 88-foot waterfall that is located just upstream from Lower Calf Creek. A shorter 2-mile roundtrip hike takes about two hours traversing uphill in the seclusion of the canyon, so much so, you might have the place all to yourself! The unmarked trailhead lies between mile markers 80 and 81 on the west side of Scenic Byway 12, so it can be easy to miss.
Devil’s Garden, known to the locals as Devil’s Rock Garden, should not be confused with The Devil’s Garden Loop Trail in Moab. Covering 640 acres of land, this area is a well-known site for outdoor adventure. This playground of rock formations showcases the Navajo sandstone in hoodoos, domes, narrow passages and small arches. Driving to Devil’s Garden, take Hole in the Rock Road off of Scenic Byway 12. Follow the well-graded dirt road for 10 miles. Be careful during rare snow or rain storms as the road might be temporarily impassable. Ten miles down the road you will find a small sign indicating a right turn toward Devil's Garden which is just a couple of hundred yards down this side road. Enjoyment in Devil’s Garden is fun for a wide range of age and exercise levels, and time spent here will be variable as visitors wander along the 1-mile loop trail through the rocks. Leashed dogs are permitted in this area and a large picnic area makes it a great stop along your road trip.
Grand Staircase “Pre-history”
The history of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is right beneath your feet, literally. Within the monument are fossils that record the earth’s past inhabitants, dating back more than 70 million years. Through fossils found, paleontologists have shown that this arid desert was, at different times, an ocean, lake and swamp. Fossils found include fish, turtles, sharks teeth, plant life and dinosaurs. Several dinosaur tracks have also been found throughout the monument. Professional digs in the area completed in 2001 have led to some of very exciting dinosaur finds.
Things to Do
Explore Slot Canyons
Found along Hole in the Rock Road 26 miles south of Escalante, are two popular slot canyons in Utah — Peek-a-boo Gulch and Spooky Gulch Slot Canyons. Located close together, you can hike these slot canyons separately or together. Separately, Peek-a-boo is 2 miles roundtrip and Spooky is just over 3 miles roundtrip. They can also be combined for a 3.5-mile loop taking anywhere from 2-4 hours to complete. If you combine them, Peek-a-boo is the recommended starting point. Both slot canyons get very narrow, as slot canyons are known for, so hikers have to squeeze, crawl and scoot in some places. Some areas have 10-foot high rock walls which can be fun for the adventurer and unappealing for the claustrophobic. If it’s your first time hiking through slot canyons, make sure to have read our beginner’s guide and consider a professional guide service if you’re rappelling or going beyond the popular slot canyon locations.
Hiking Grand Staircase-Escalante
Hiking is a popular thing to do in Grand Staircase-Escalante that will take you to incredible viewpoints and scenic views. No matter the experience level, there is a hike suited for you. Our guide to hiking in the area has the basics and there are popular hikes that can give you wonderful memories in the area including slot canyons like Peek-a-boo and Spooky Gulch, Devil’s Garden or the Calf Creek Recreation area. Backpacking can also be a fun multi-day excursion with the proper permits and accommodating weather conditions. Overnight backpacking and hiking permits are free of charge and can be obtained at visitors centers or at developed trailheads.
Grand Staircase-Escalante Camping
Camping is a great lodging option for lower-budgets or outdoor enthusiasts. Within the monument, there are two campgrounds that operate on a first-come, first-serve basis: Deer Creek Campground and Calf Creek Campground. The Deer Creek Campground is located along the Burr Trail nestled in Deer Creek Canyon with 7 campsites. Calf Creek Campground has 13-sites, a day-use picnic area and trailhead to the Lower Calf Creek Falls hike.
Grand Staircase-Escalante Visitor Information
To help you plan your visit to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, don't forget to check out our helpful Bryce Canyon Country maps and itineraries.
For some itinerary and travel information specific to Grand Staircase-Escalante, you may be interested in our hiking guide or our pre-planned itinerary combinations.Whichever Grand Staircase-Escalante activities you choose, it's sure to be an awesome experience!
How to get to Grand Staircase Escalante?
Getting to the different units of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument calls for a road trip! Driving in the car on Scenic Byway 12, you can oversee the area without realizing it. Grosvenor arch is accessible through Cannonville, Utah and the Escalante Canyon Unit is between Escalante and Boulder, Utah.
Can you drive through Grand Staircase Escalante?
As you drive Scenic Byway 12 which spans 120 miles, you’ll travel through various areas showcasing the rugged, beautiful landscapes of Utah. As one of the two paved highways in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, you are guaranteed to overlook the area as you drive by.
Are dogs allowed in Grand Staircase Escalante?
Dogs are allowed on most hiking trails in Grand Staircase-Escalante region. Dogs are not allowed in dry slot canyons along the Hole in the Rock Road because of the confined spaces. Some hikes allow dogs leashed and some allow dogs to roam unleashed, please be sure to not only view the guidelines for each hike, but also pick up after your dog so you leave the area as beautiful as you found it. Dogs are permitted on the following trails.
- Devil’s Garden
- Escalante Natural Bridge Trail
- Grosvenor Arch
- Lower Calf Creek Falls Trail