Top Things to do in Escalante, Utah
Escalante, Utah is one of my favorite places to visit because there is so much to do in a small area. Although we have been here several times we find new things to do every time we visit! Of course we have our few favorites that we definitely would do again. I am going to share with you our top things to do in Escalante, Utah.
Escalante and the Grand Staircase Monument
Escalante is about 4 hour drive from Salt Lake City. Escalante is a small town located in the Grand Staircase Monument. It is located on the Scenic Byway 12 and centrally located between Bryce Canyon National Park and Capitol Reef National Park. There is also three State Parks located in the area that are worth visiting. Besides the National Parks, the area is very dog friendly and we were able to take our pup with us on all the hikes and into the Escalate Petrified State Park and Kodachrome State Park.
Where to stay?
Escalante is a very small town so accommodations are limited in this area. We have been doing a lot more camping in our travel trailer the last 2 years so we stay at RV Parks in the area. However there is a few options of cabins if you aren’t camping. These are our recommendations:
Yonder Escalante – Such a cool spot with drive in movie theater. You can rent cabins or Airsteams. They also have RV spots if you are bringing your own. This place even has a pool!
Escalante Cabins & RV Park – We stayed here last time we visited. The RV spots are a little tight but the pricing was cheaper. The facilities were all nice.
Escalante Yurts – Luxury tent experience
You can also camp for free in BLM Area on Hole in the Rock Road.
Another option to stay with more hotel accommodations is Bryce which is conveniently located at the entrance of Bryce Canyon National Park.
Best Western Ruby’s Inn – Large hotel with general store and convienetly located at the entrance of Bryce Canyon National Park.
Ruby’s Inn RV Park – one of our favorite camp sites. Large camping spots. They also offer cabins.
Red Canyon Campground – This campground has been on our wishlist. Looks great but they do not offer reservations. First come, first serve spots.
I recommend booking in advance because this area is very popular and accommodations book quickly.
Best time to visit – Temperatures can get very hot in the area in the months of June-August. Our favorite time to visit in April-June and October. You beat summer vacationers and the weather is 60-70s in daytime which is perfect for hiking. It can get cold at night during these times, sometimes in the high 20s-30s. Bryce Canyon is higher in altitude so it is a bit cooler than Escalante in the summer.
Top things to do in Escalante and surrounding area
Bryce Canyon National Park is one of my favorite parks in Utah. The area is so beautiful and you can spend 1-3 days hiking and exploring in the park. Dogs are allowed on the pavement so if you are traveling with pets you can experience the park in many overlooks and a paved trail from Sunset to Sunrise Point (about 1 mile roundtrip). If you have more time to spend in the park, I would recommend looking at the park brochure for hikes and at least do one that allows you to hike down into the hoodoos. The view from above is beautiful but it gives you a different perspective from below.
Red Canyon Area is located 15 min west of Bryce Canyon. This area has a few hikes and mountain biking trail. This is the one place we have not spent time in yet but its on my list next time. They also have a campground but it is first come, first serve on the spots. All the trails in this area are dog friendly and you can find info on the trails here.
Kodachrome State Park is located between Escalante and Bryce. It is a small State Park so that we were able to do 2 hikes and a nature trail in 1/2 day with our dog. We enjoyed the Angel Trail because we got to explore the trail. One of our favorite things to do in the area was The Grosvenor Arch. It located just out of park entrance down Cottonwood Trail Rd. It is a dirt road but road conditions were great and a car could easily do it. The trail is a small walk on a paved trail. We’ve seen a lot of arches in southern Utah but I thought this arch was spectacular and was totally worth the trip. We were the only ones there!
Escalate Petrified State Park has a small reservoir and short hike to see some petrified trees. I recommend that you do the extended trail called “Trail of Sleeping Rainbows“ because you see a lot more of the petrified trees in this portion of the hike. It adds an additional 1/2 mile. We have stayed at the campground at this State Park. If you have a small trailer or tent this is a great location. It is a very small campground but views are nice and its quiet because its tucked up away from the highway. Make sure you check out the Escalante Rock Shop just before the park entrance.
Spooky and Peek a Boo Slot Canyons are a must in the area! They are located on the Hole in the Rock Rd in Escalante. I caution you that this road is very bumpy. You have to drive 20 miles on dirt road to get the trailhead. The first few miles of the road are not bad but after that it is a bit rough but doable.
After hiking the canyons on your way back make sure you stop at Devils Garden. There is some cool rock formations and hoodoos that you just wander around. It is a quick stop so you can spend as much time as you want here. We explored around the formations and then walked the dry creek bed back to the car.
Calf Creek Falls is one of the top things to do in Escalante. In fact it might be the most popular hike in the area! The hike is almost 7 miles roundtrip but it is flat and sandy. The parking area is very limited so I recommend hiking this early so you get there before the crowds. And bonus you get to enjoy the falls without everyone else! The water is a nice refresh on your feet. This hike doesn’t have very much shade so make sure you pack plenty of water especially in warmer temps. Stop by Kiva coffeehouse on the way back after your hike for a brew with a view.
Boulder, Utah is further north on the highway 12. The scenic drive to this area from Escalante is a must! The views are amazing and you have several pull off spots along the highway to stop. My favorite spot of the drive is the small section of road that is on a plateau and you are literally driving with cliffs on each side of you! Anazai State Park is also located in this small town. This park is a quick stop to tour a life-sized, six-room replica of an ancient dwelling and view a portion of the original site. A must stop is the food truck located in the parking lot of the state park called Magnolia. Did someone say tacos? We enjoyed lunch on the shaded picnic area behind in the truck.
There is a few cool scenic driving options from this town. Just south of Boulder was a turn off for the Hells Backbone. This is a gravel road to an amazing viewpoint with bridge. I found this website to be interesting on the history of the bridge and details on the drive. We also stopped at Posey Lake which was surrounded by large pine trees. It is a totally different landscape from the surrounding red rock in the area. You can complete the drive in a loop and it returns you to the town of Escalante. This took us a couple of hours to drive and enjoy the area.
The Burr Trail starts in Boulder and is a beautiful drive. The trail is paved and if you drive the entire 70 something miles you arrive in Bullfrog in Lake Powell. If you drive the entire road you would want to stay in the area in Lake Powell because its a long day to get back to Escalate area. We have never drove the entire thing but there are a few highlights we enjoyed that are worth the drive. When we visited this last time, we spent half a day driving the Wolverine Loop. Along the Wolverine Loop, there is the Wolverine Petrified Area which has features the 2nd largest petrified forest in North America. There is petrified trees that are 4ft in diameter sticking out of mountain! The area has a dense amount of petrified trees and was a highlight of our trip. The hike roundtrip is 5 miles but we visited on a very cold and windy day so we only hiked in 3/4 mile which was said to have the most exposed areas of the forest. I can’t wait to go back and check that out again. You don’t have to drive the Wolverine Road in its entirety, We missed the first turn off for the loop and caught the loop further down the Burr Trail. If you turn off at the first loop, you can drive 10 miles to the Petrified Area and turn around. The entire loop is 20 something miles. There is a few other hikes in the area but the only one we had time to do was a small pull off to Singing Canyon. This canyon is a quick beautiful stop!
I am already looking forward to my next visit to Escalante, Utah to explore new areas and experience new adventures. I hope this list gave you some ideas for your trip to Escalante and the Grand Staircase Monument.