What’s up fam! Dropping in for some insight into our incredible journey at Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah. A highly underrated 1 million acre area that is very sadly being decreased in size by our government. It’s definitely a must see sooner rather than later! We took a road trip out there in May and were blown away by the landscape and hikes we experienced. It was my first time in Utah, I had no expectations on what it was going to be like but man was my mind blown. It was so crazy to me to see a desert encompassed by lush mountains and greenery.
Our first hike in Grand Staircase was the Lower Calf Creek Falls. Approximately a 6 mile hike, it was moderate but worth while and very fun. This hike is easy to find, just search in your maps.
Next, we decided to do a hike to the Zebra Slot Canyon and Tunnel Slot Canyon. Since it was summer time it was quite hot and we were eyeing a storm rolling around the desert, but we decided if at worst we got caught in the storm it would be a nice way to cool off. To get to the trail head follow HWY 12 to Hole in the Rock Road and then down to the cattle guard. You’ll find a parking area across the road from where the well traveled trail is. Begin the trail and make your way down the Halfway Hollow. The trail will cut left across the Harris Wash and lead you to the Zebra Slot Canyon. All the recent rain had left the canyon flooded, but we decided to try our luck anyway. We took off our shoes and stepped into the murky waters where frogs were swimming about. We continued through the slot canyon looking up in awe at the massive rock walls surrounding us. The water began to rise and once it got to my waist and there was no way to keep our packs dry we decided it was best to turn around. So when planning your trip, make sure you factor in the rainy season if you want to complete the Zebra Slot Canyon walk thru.
Ricky in Zebra Slot Canyon
Nikki in Zebra Slot Canyon
We emerged from the waters of the Zebra Slot Canyon and wanted to continue on to the Tunnel Slot Canyon. We walked back thru the Harris Wash to the main trail and then took the other fork towards the Tunnel Slot. This slot canyon, as the name infers, is more like a tunnel going thru the incredible rock faces of the desert. Since it was also flooded and a little more dark and spooky we decided to admire this slot canyon from the outside. We returned back through Harris Wash and up the Halfway Hollow following the trail to our truck. It was a decent hike of approximately 7 miles which took us a few hours.
Tunnel Slot Canyon
Tunnel Slot Canyon flooded
It was a long day of hiking approximately 13 miles in the desert between Lower Calf Creek Falls and the slot canyons so we were ready to get camp set up and enjoy some time by the camp fire. We found a site with a beautiful view and settled in for the night. It got surprisingly chilly when the sun went down so sitting by the fire was enjoyable. The next morning we woke up and prepared for the day ahead.
The hike for the day was to Steven’s Arch on the Coyote Gulch Trail. This ended up being our favorite hike of the trip. After finding the parking lot, we embarked on a few mile hike across the canyon tops until we reached the canyon wall. To descend to the bottom, we had to rappel the rock face using a rope that was left and secured for this purpose. This was a daunting task but proved to be a lot of fun once you go for it.
After reaching the bottom we were greeted with trees and fauna surrounding a flowing river through the canyons. This was the Escalante River. I took off my shoes and splashed around as we followed the river deeper into the canyon. I was constantly looking up to the blue sky and sunshine atop the massive rock walls engulfing us.
Following the river through the canyon
We continued on until we reached Steven’s Arch. A massive natural arch that made us stop and stare for awhile. Thinking about how the elements of nature and time work to shape the land around us. Truly a remarkably thing to experience. After admiring it from one angel, we hiked around to the other side, and then decided to go up and hike through it. We wanted to view it from every way possible.
We made our way back up the river and down the trail. We rappelled back up the rock wall and started across the desert once again towards the truck. The hike was approximately 9 miles round trip and totally worth it. Next time we go back we plan on bringing our packs and camping out for a night or two and continuing further down the trail. After we reached the truck it was the afternoon and we wanted to continue exploring the area. We decided to stop at Devil’s Garden where we made lunch and easily explored these strange formations. The iconic rock formations are hoodoos and small arches. It is a relatively short and easy hike around the area to view them. The perfect way to explore and unwind after our morning trek.
As evening came we decided to continue on our trip in Utah. We returned to camp and packed up our things and headed out. This incredible place captured our hearts and we are sure we will return again. Drop a comment if you’ve ever explored here or have any interest in checking it out. Life is a journey for all of us to share 🙂 xoxo, Nikki
Check out the links below for gear to grab before heading out here…
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