The drive into Utah was astounding! We drove through desert, saw rock outcroppings, passed by Lake Powell, even went into the mountains and had to stop for a family of cows that were crossing the road! We also took an impromptu stop at Capitol Reef National Park and had a picnic lunch. There's so much to see and do here and not enough time!
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument: Calf Creek Falls Trail
Utah is a state of awe inspiring landscape and Grand Staircase-Escalante is one of the many natural wonders that Utah has to offer. We stayed in Escalante for a week and hiked to Calf Creek Falls over the weekend. It's a 6 mile round trip hike that's graded at easy/moderate. When we hiked it though, the sun was blazing and not being in the most fit condition, it felt more like a moderate/hard hike for me! We took many breaks in the shade though and I had to stop and eat a granola bar before we got to the end. The trail itself was really not that bad. There were a few steep-ish spots, but overall, it was beautiful being in the canyon and hiking alongside a creek.
To get to the start of the trail, you have to walk through the campground. There's a drinking water spigot there so you can fill up your bottles before you start the trek. I had a small, 1 liter Camelbak and it was not nearly enough water... With the heat and higher elevation, staying hydrated is essential. Thankfully Bach had more water on him so he shared with me on the way back. It also helped to wet my hat and shirt in the cold creek water as we went along. With the heat, it dried pretty quickly, but it was so refreshing to put on a cold hat and top!
This was a beautiful hike that I would highly recommend! It seemed like I was the only one who was having a hard time because there were a lot of senior citizens who were passing by, no problem! It's ok though. I made it to the end and that's what counts 😅
We had some fun at the start of the trail taking photos of the gorgeous red rocks. Since the trail is in a canyon with a creek from the waterfall flowing through, the juxtaposition of the cliffs against the lush greenery below was a sight to see.
It might've taken a lot of huffing and puffing on my part to get to the waterfall, but man, it was worth it!
On our way back to town, we stopped by a unique coffee shop called Kiva Koffeehouse to get cold drinks and sustenance. They're perched on top of a cliff so you can look out onto the valley below as you sip your coffee.
Another site we went to during our time in Escalante was Devil's Garden. It is a small natural area with sandstone hoodoos, arches and domes. The road getting there is a bit rough though. From Escalante, you drive down UT-12 and turn onto Hole-In-The-Rock Road. It's about 12 miles down a wide, but bumpy dirt road until you see the sign for Devil's Garden.
Once you get there, there are several picnic tables and bbq grills that you can use for picnicking while enjoying the views! Dogs are also welcome here which is great, since not a lot of places allow pets.
During lunch, storm clouds started rolling in (dang summer monsoon season...!) so instead of exploring with the dogs like we had initially intended to do, we had to take them back to the car and Bach and I spent about 10 mins walking around and taking photos.
There's not a whole lot to do at Devil's Garden, but it's a nice place to explore for a couple of hours.
Canyons of Escalante RV Park
Originally, we were going to stay at Canyons of Escalante RV Park just for the weekend, but with the heat and Bach needing cell signal for work during the week, we decided to extend our stay through the week. While the spots are fairly close together, they are all pull-throughs so we didn't have to do any crazy maneuvering to pull in. The price was great as well, at $32/day with full hookups. If you're staying for a week, they have a weekly discount rate.
They're also really close to the Visitor's Center and on the main street, so you're within walking distance to restaurants, a pub, and grocery store.
Overall, I really enjoyed staying here! It's a small RV park but very well maintained with trees next to each site, so it doesn't look like a barren gravel lot. There are also a few tent camping spots and 5 really cute cabins. They are pet friendly, providing potty bags, and the surrounding area was perfect to walk the dogs. There's even a rodeo close by!
We stayed in spot #15 which is the closest to the entrance of the park and there was an unmarked space next to us which we realized is reserved for after-hours campers. It wasn't an issue at all, but we did have to deal with some noisy people who pulled in to the spot late one night... They apparently didn't know about camping etiquette and setting up quietly 🤫 All ended well though because they left in the morning after having a very noisy breakfast.
I fell in love with the town of Escalante. It has a small-town, eclectic vibe and locals are friendly. There's not a lot to do there in terms of night life (most places close by 9:00pm), but boy, you can't complain about the views of the mountains they have there! They also have some fantastic hiking trails and so much to do outdoors.
Some eateries you can check out if you're ever in the area are:
4th West Pub: They have a decent selection of beer and wine, also serves tacos and paninis which are pretty tasty. They're also open past 9:00pm!
Circle D Eatery: Great for a fancier meal. It's literally right next to Canyons of Escalante RV Park so you can just walk over.
Escalante Outfitters: This is a quirky little place that's a combination of lodging, gear store, and pizza restaurant! The pizza is excellent.
Nemos Drive Thru: They have decent burgers and fries. Also make milkshakes and malts!
Escalante Mercantile and Natural Grocery: This place is really cute inside! They don't have a huge selection of groceries, but when we went, we got cheese, a loaf of bread from a local bakery, fresh organic arugula, and a delicious artichoke dip. They also serve coffee and have pastries.