Escalante River Trailhead to Natural Arch – 4 miles out and back
We were overwhelmed. After failing to find somewhere to camp – let alone to park -in Zion National Park (no offense, you are beautiful, but man are you crowded!), and a gorgeous but busy stay in Bryce, we mosyed our way over to the lesser known Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and found ourselves free of the crowds, free of charge.
Though it lacks the admirable National Park title of the other famed parks of Utah, you find yourself asking why as you stare out at the 1.7 million acres of dramatic natural bridges, slick red rock walls, slot canyons, ruins and petroglyphs you can get intimate with, and the bonus on a hot June day: a plentiful river running along the trail shaded by cottonwoods. And did we mention that there is nobody there?
We spent the day rambling along the flat valley of the Escalante River, speeding along through the desert sage, splashing around in the cool river water which we got to cross multiple times, and enjoying this rare opportunity to spend alone time with the southwest’s sensational scenery. One day we’ll go deeper into its millions of acres of unspoiled land, but for now we’ll be content with our small but eye-opening taste of this Utah underdog.