a conversation with the earth guidebooks + guided hiking

Posts tagged “Death Hollow”.

Utah State Highway 12 between Escalante and Boulder

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Utah State Highway 12 between Escalante and Boulder is among the most impressive lengths of paved road ever constructed. It’s in the northeast corner of Grand Staircase—Escalante National Monument, and this area is the slickrock-hiking capitol of Planet Earth. After a bit of history about this road linking ranching communities, we’ll get back to the hiking possibilities.

Mormon pioneers first rode on horseback, from Escalante to Head of the Rocks, creating a couple astonishing routes into the river canyon where it meets Calf Creek. In 1895, Amasa Lyman and his three sons were the first to get a wagon down (by dismantling it in places) to Calf Creek, then up over a sharp ridge of volcanic rock across New Home Bench, across Boulder Creek, and into the Boulder community.

In 1935, the Civilian Conservation Corps (established across the country by Roosevelt during the Depression) started building a road from the flat lands ending at Head of the Rocks. A dug way was blasted along 2 miles of sandstone rock face to carry the road into Calf Creek canyon. Up it went over a narrow strip of land (now locally known as “the Hogsback”) and dropping sharply off both sides into dramatic tributary canyons of the Escalante River Canyon.

By June 1940, Boulder could finally be reached via a year-round, all-weather road. This magnificent road is recognized asthe premier project of the CCC’s skills. It’s a testimony to the hard-working men who did not have engineering degrees, but who had practical judgment, resourcefulness, and perseverance.

If you’re a hiker, and you’re reading this as a result of Googling the phrase “best hikes utah highway 12,” you’ve zeroed in on much more than the best hikes near Utah Highway 12. You’ve pinpointed what we consider the most fascinating hiking anywhere.

Sure, you’ll find a few of the best hikes off Highway 12 in the guidebook Kathy and Craig wrote. It’s titled Hiking from Here to WOW: Utah Canyon Country. Our book describes the 3-mile, one-way trail you’ll share with hordes of people walking through a stunning red-rock canyon to Lower Calf Creek Falls. For experienced and very fit hikers, tackle the 15-mile Boulder Mail Trail that crosses extraordinary Death Hollow. The elevation change is a 3320-ft loss and a 2500-ft gain.

Most of the five-star hiking accessed from Highway 12, however, is difficult or impossible for visitors to experience on their own. It’s undocumented, unpublicized, largely unknown. That’s because there are very few actual trails in Grand Staircase—Escalante National Monument. The best hiking here is on cross-country routes too complex for most hikers to decrypt without a local guide.

Intrigued? With our help, you can sample the “best hikes utah highway 12.” We’re Craig and Kathy Copeland, and Adam Harmon. We’re the Utah Slickrock Guides. We invite you to get in touch with us, even on short notice. nomads@hikingcamping.com (435) 335-7544

Tell us your interests, preferences, and goals. Describe your experience and ability. Knowing all that, we can spice your Utah Highway 12 drive with a big, bold, mundane-existence-shredding accomplishment on foot. And we’ll leave the crowds behind.

Want to hike only a few hours? All day? Every day for a week?

Let’s do it. Our routes vary from four to eight hours. We can dial the physical challenge up or down, as you wish. Compared to hiking a trail, you’ll find cross-country hiking with us is way more flexible and exciting.

Surrounding Utah Highway 12 is a remote, serene, sunny wilderness fissured with chasms, crusted with slickrock, studded with domes, reefs, buttes and pinnacles, and infused with the mystery of an ancient culture. Come explore it with us.

“Do big things, or little things will do you.” 

—Utah Slickrock Guides

Join us—in person, or in print:


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Even when the weather’s hot in south-central Utah, with daytime highs above 80°F (27°C), Utah Slickrock Guides can lead you on marvelous hikes in canyon country near Boulder and Escalante. That’s because several of our routes lead to and through the creeks that bless our high-desert wilderness. We call them “water walks,” because you’ll actually be walking in the water. With soaring canyon walls and towering cottonwood trees providing occasional shade, our water walks are cool—even when it’s hot.

If we start hiking by 7:30 am, we should be in the water by 10:00 am—so we can start cooling off before the heat becomes restrictive. On our full-day water walks, we’ll stay in or near the water, and within easy reach of deep shade, until the sun’s intensity abates in late afternoon. Only then will we begin hiking out of the canyon.

Our eight-hour water-walk routes include Secret Knowledge of Water, Boulder Baptism, and Water Master. Our five-hour water-walk routes include Where Dinosaurs Drink, and variants of Secret Knowledge of Water and Escalante Alchemy.

If you’re familiar with the legendary canyons in southern Utah, you’ll know of Death Hollow. With us guiding, you can experience this intimidating and enchanting canyon in a day. You don’t need to carry a heavy backpack. It’s 9 hours of hiking, so you’ll need to be fit. In addition to four hours of walking in the creek, for about two hours we’ll swim and lounge in sensuous, crystal-clear pools. You’ll be with the best guide possible. Adam has explored Death Hollow over 40 times.

Intrigued? You’ll find more details at www.hikingcamping.com, under Guided Hiking. You can also send your questions to us: nomads@ hikingcamping.com. Or, if you’re in our area, and you’re keen to hike soon, you’re welcome to phone us, even on short notice: (435) 335-7544.

Our minimum guiding fee for a full day into these remote canyons is USD$400 for one or two people. For three people, it’s USD$550; $700 for four. To get these prices that are 20% OFF our regular rates, sign up by July 31. That’s a great price for a world-class canyon experience in one of the wildest, most rugged areas in the world.

Have fun previewing our Water Hikes:

(1) Boulder Baptism
(2) Secret Knowledge of Water
(3) Water Master
(4) Where Dinosaurs Drink

Utah Slickrock Guides – Adam, Skye & Craig

Join us—in person, or in print:


Hiking and camping in the wilderness can be dangerous. Experience and preparation reduce risk but will never eliminate it.

Information published in a book or on a website—regardless how authoritative—is not a substitute for common sense or sound judgment. Your safety is your responsibility. The unique details of your specific situation and the decisions you make at that time will determine the outcome.

When hiking, threats to your wellbeing are unpredictable; you must always be aware. In the backcountry, risk is subjective; you must gauge it for yourself. Away from civilization, small mistakes can have severe consequences; you must vigilantly prevent injury and avoid becoming disoriented.

Never hike alone. Before setting out, check the weather forecast and current trail conditions; adjust your plans accordingly. Always carry a map and compass, a first-aid kit, extra clothing, a personal locator beacon, plus enough food and water to survive an emergency.

If you doubt your ability to negotiate rough terrain, respond to wild animals, or handle sudden, extreme weather changes, hike only in a group led by a competent, licensed guide.

The authors and the publisher disclaim liability for any loss or injury incurred by anyone using information published on this website or in the books presented on this website.