View Full Version : Grand Staircase-Escalante, Utah
Well I am going to embark on a trip to Grand Staircase-Escalante, Utah this coming weekend and will be there about 5 days. It was a last minute thing and I'd appreciate any tips and information anyone could provide. I did search the archives and did see where QT Luong suggested getting some publications written about the area, but I can't order them and receive in time before leaving. As I have never been to this area any and all recomendations are welcome: roads to take or not, possible good locations for photographing, tips on what to bring, etc. etc. Thanks in advance.
Couple more things: I will be driving a four wheel drive vehicle, and I don't mind and actually enjoy hiking so getting to a remote spot with gear in tow isn't really an issue. Thanks.
Fillup the tank and hit the Burr Trail. Utah is an incredible!
burr trail (http://home.att.net/~shipale/images/escalante.jpg)</li>
The Grand Staircase is awesome, but you're talking about a lot of country that's not easy to navigate through. When you get to Utah stop in a BLM (Bureau of Land Management) office, there's one in Escalante and inquire; they will be able to offer pointers and have maps available.
As has been recommended the Burr Trail and the road to Hole in the Wall, will put in in very scenic areas. Have a great trip and be careful, especially in the canyons. Carry plenty of water and don't forget to keep the gas tank full.
Are you a flatlander? If so, some of the trails that the locals use will give you vertigo. Dirt roads 8 feet wide and 3,000 feet down. You have to really like vertical terrain. If it has just rained four wheel drive will only get you stuck a lot deeper.
Michael E. Gordon
You'll wander aimlessly in the GSENM without some form of guidebook. IMO, it is not a shoot-from-the-car kind of place, so you'll need to get walking. Check out the Falcon guide, Michael Kelsey's "Canyon Hiking Guide to the Colorado Plateau", or Rudy Lambrechtse's "Hiking the Escalante". You should be able to find all of them in Utah.
Good luck, have fun.
Kerry L. Thalmann
I recommend the book Photography the Southwest, Volume 1 by Laurent Martres. It has about a chapter and a half on the Grand Staircase - Esclante National Monument (the Southern section is covered in the "Around the Paria" chapter), as well as more info on the surrounding area. For details on the book, go to the publisher's web site at:
You can follow the links on the main page to a table of contents listing and an online sample chapter covering Capitol Reef National Park (which borders Grand Staircase - Escalante NM to the East).
Since you don't have time to order the book online, there is a list of retail outlets that carry the book on the web site. I'm not sure which direction you're coming from, but if you'll be passing through any of the National Parks in the area, they should have the book in their gift shops. Also, the author sells prints of his work at a few galleries and businesses in the Boulder/Esclante area. A listing of these businesses, with links to their web sites, can be found at:
You might try calling a couple to see if they also sell Laurent's books and have Volume 1 in stock.
Finally, for inspiration, you might want to check out some of the authors online galleries at:
Hope that helps,
Good advice from Michael Gordon. If you can't stop by a bookstore before leaving - visit the Hills and Hollows market in Boulder. They have a decent selection of books.If coming through Torrey, you will find a couple of bookstores in town as well as at the Capitol Reef visitor center.
Scenic Wild Photography (http://www.scenicwild.com)
Hole in the Wall is a good one. Just make sure you know how to use 4wheel drive. The last 4-6 miles in are 4x4 only. You 'might' be able to make it in without it(though doubtful) but you won't get back out. If it is wet be prepared to bounce a bit coming back out as you try to keep up some speed on slick sandstone. It is better with shorter wheelbase 4x4 rigs as some of the big ones high center going over the last sections of the road & have to be pulled off. It is a good location for overnight camping with star trail photography & overlooks of Lake Powell. Enjoy the area & if you do some driving around the backroads in Kanab, get some nice photos of the anti government/environmentalist signs for posterity.
If you decide you want to get cooler try the drive over Hells Backbone. Really good stuff with a nice single lane wood bridge over an 800 foot chasm that gives some good overlooks.
Too late for you for this trip but in case you go back, or in case others are interested, there is a "Photograph America" newsletter on Escalante. I subscribed to this service for quite a few years, one comes out each month and by now there's one on virtually all of the better known areas for photography and some not so well known areas. I believe you can purchase back issues by contacting the photographer who publishes them, Robert Hirchman, P.O. Box 86, Novato, CA 94948, phone 415-898-3736.
If you plan to concentrate on the Hole in the Rock Rd, almost everything of photographic interest, except for Devil's Garden, is a hike, some of it a major hike. Plan on camping out there if you travel some distance on the road because the road is very washboardy and it can be slow going. It can take you 2 to 21/2 hours to travel 40 miles back to Escalante. Stop at the BLM office on the south side of Escalante and get info. Some of the rangers are pretty well informed. Get Michael Kelsey's book, "Hiking the Colorado Plateau" wherever you can find it. It is the Bible for the CP.
Thanks to all for your input it's much appreciated and will be of help. I will definately look into the various literature you've all mentioned once I get out there, it didn't dawn on me to look for the books there and thanks for pointing me where to look.
Saulius, I spent nearly two months in the Escalante-Grand Staircase area this spring. One could easily spend 6 months and not see everything. Decisions about where to go will be influenced by how much time you have. There are numerous slot canyons and wash hikes off the Hole-in-the-Rock Rd. that are only 1 or 2 hours in that present wonderful photographic opportunities. The folks at the BLM office in Escalante typically have pretty recent information about conditions in the canyons and can sell you excellent maps and give free advice. Escalante Outfitters, in Escalante, has plenty of books on the area (and some images from my spring trip on their walls). There are also many informational sites on the internet with route descriptions, photos, etc. (just do a search for Escalante-Grand Staircase). You are welcome to phone me for some last minute ideas. Send me an e-mail message and I will send you my phone number. Have a great time.
FYI, there will be a first ever Escalante Canyons Everett Ruess Days celebration, running Thursday, Friday and Saturday, beginning Sep. 30.
I was in the area only a few weeks ago. There have been lots of great suggestions already. Given you only have five days, get a good map and give a lot of thought into your route. The distances are large, and it is easy to use a lot of time travelling e.g. down Hole in the Rock. My preference would be to car camp, hit Devil's Garden, Calf Creek, drive the Hell's Backbone loop for views of the ridge, then catch some green aspen and scenics on the drive through Boulder up to Torrey. If I had any time remaining, I would visit Capitol Reef. Laurent's book covers all this. You may want to hike to some canyons as has been suggested, but this can take a while. I could spend years here and not run out of things to do...
Non-photo things: You can get decent coffee at Escalante Outfitters/Escalatte, at the West end of ?Main St?/Route 12. They also sell some basic gear - Nalgene flasks etc. - in case you forget something, and have free wireless internet. The shop/cookout place opposite also has stuff. Escalante Excursions, the white building on the East end of Route 12 in town, has decent coffee, hot croissant (often) if you get there early, and a very worn copy of "Two Guy Four Corners" by the Imus'. This book is an essential read for all photographers on a road trip around the four corners area. The Kiva Koffeehouse, a couple of miles South of the Lower Calf Creek Falls area, is also worth a visit when you are looking for a place to recover from early dawn photo trips.
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