Hiking the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
As Joni Mitchell once famously sang, “You don’t know what you’ve got’ til it’s gone.” Most people had never heard of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument until the Trump administration announced it was planning to shave nearly one million acres from the Utah public lands. It’s not gone yet and there is still plenty of majesty to explore in the Grand Staircase-Escalante. At Four Season Guides, we have been leading lodge-based and basecamp adventures, and backpacking tours into the sculpted Utah desert for so long that we know to avoid the spots that may be too gorgeous for their own good (the overcrowding in Coyote Gulch first and foremost). But many of the better-known destinations just need to be visited at the right time. Here are some of our well-known favorites…
“Helluva place to lose a cow.” That is what homesteader Ebenezer Bryce said when he brought his wife to run cattle in the Paria Valley in the 1870s. The eastern edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau had eroded into a series of horseshoe-shaped amphitheaters, filled with spires and windows and rock formations in colors that Crayola would be hard pressed to duplicate with its largest box of crayons. You can marvel at this one-of-a-kind landscape with our Bryce Canyon tour offerings. The dark green Ponderosa pines accent the vibrant colors in the national park even more dramatically. We opt for a quiet trail that highlights everything that makes Bryce special.
Peekaboo & Spooky Gulches
If slot canyons are your thing, Peekaboo and Spooky gulches are at the top of any canyon explorer’s bucket list. Located right on the famous Hole-in-the-Rock Road, these two classic sidewinders have been carved less than one-half mile from each other, which creates an unforgettable loop for day hiking.
Further down the Hole-in-the-Rock Road is the Egypt Trailhead, a generous description to be sure as there are no official trails here. The destination is the Escalante River, five miles in the distance, which harbors one of America’s most wondrous natural treasures, the Golden Cathedral. The “cathedral” is illuminated by three giant skylight potholes carved out of Neon Canyon.
Calf Creek Falls
One of the most accessible highlights in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is at Calf Creek Falls, located just off National Scenic Byway Route 12. The falls are not difficult to get to either, especially if you’re hiking with a guide. It is a mostly sandy, three-mile hike, around rock formations and the heavily vegetated creek. Your experience is a desert oasis straight from Hollywood – a 126-foot waterfall plunging into a wide swimming pool.
A Four Season Guides’-led expedition will also seek out the lesser-visited 88-foot Upper Calf Creek Falls. Even those who think they know Grand Staircase-Escalante can always use experienced guides when exploring this vast wonderland.