a conversation with the earth guidebooks + guided hiking

Posts tagged “Escalante River”.


                                           Click on photo to enlarge, click again to enlarge fully.

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:

The Hole-in-the-Rock Road, Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument

The Opinionated Hikers on Patrol for You

The Hole-in-the-Rock Road (HITRR) departs Highway 12 near Escalante, Utah. Running southeast into the desert, below and parallel to the Kaiparowits Plateau, it slices through Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument and probes Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

Where the HITRR departs pavement, it looks like any of the hundreds of humble dirt roads in Utah. But for canyon-country hikers, this is THE road, because it leads to trailheads for numerous premier hikes. Along the way, it provides access to lots of unofficial but superb campsites.

In May, while on a backcountry-research trip to update our book Hiking from Here to WOW: Utah Canyon Country, we once again drove down the HITRR. We re-hiked…

Trip 23  Peek-a-boo, Spooky, & Brimstone Gulches
Trip 26  Willow & Fortymile Gulches
Trip 27  Davis Gulch

We also re-hiked the actual Hole in the Rock: from road’s end, down to the shore of Lake Powell. It’s a hike that, for various reasons, we did not include in Hiking from Here to WOW: Utah Canyon Country. Now we can supplement the book with this up-to-the-minute field report.

As of last week, a low-clearance 2WD vehicle can negotiate the HITRR to Dance Hall Rock at 36 mi (58 km). In a few places, you’ll have to cautiously work around minor obstacles, or keep your speed up through sand. Beyond Dance Hall, you need a high clearance vehicle. Beyond Davis Gulch, 4WD is advisable.

We comfortably drove our Toyota RAV4 (7.5 inches of clearance) to about 51 mi (82 km), just past Davis Gulch. A steep slickrock ramp discouraged us from driving farther. We parked, resumed on foot, and soon encountered a patch of deeply corrugated slickrock we definitely would not have driven. It didn’t matter. We enjoyed hiking the final 4.5 mi (7.2 km) through desolate high-desert.

The panorama was engaging. Fiftymile and Navajo mountains are the dominant sights. Still draped with snow, Navajo was especially dramatic. Not a single vehicle passed us. We saw no other hikers. The solitude was delicious.

The road is obvious, and there are no forks, so navigation is not an issue. Just keep walking, or driving, to road’s end: 55.5 mi (89.2 km). Immediately ahead is a prominent cleft in the sandstone cliffs. Hike into it. This is where Mormon pilgrims in the Hole-in-the-Rock Expedition built a “hanging road” and safely, miraculously, lowered all their wagons and stock to the Escalante River.

Read a description of the expedition (Hiking from Here to WOW: Utah Canyon Country), and you’re in awe of their superhuman feat. Stand here, and see how impossibly vertical, rough, and forbidding their ascent route actually was, and your response soars beyond awe into speechlessness. This is where Mormon missionaries, keen to up their success rate, should bring their conversion prospects.

It’s a moderate scramble (no exposure, but frequent hands-on moves) most of the way down to Lake Powell. The final descent to the lake is on a steep, sandy trail strewn with loose rock. Distance from the top of the “hole” to the lakeshore: 1 mi (1.6 km). Elevation loss: 800 ft (244 m). Even in May, it’s hot, thirsty work. Carry at least three quarts (liters) of water per person.

Lake Powell remains cold until June. We “swam” for all of about three minutes. But after May, the weather can be too hot (90° F / 32° C) for hiking. So it’s best to wait until late September to hike here. The weather will be cooler, the lake warmer.

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.