Backpacking Escalante Canyon, Utah

Escalante is a hot and dry little town in the middle of nowhere in Utah, and it could become one of my favorite towns to visit.  It is becoming an adventure mecca, with a surprising number of things you can do very close to town.  Backpacking, mountain biking, fly fishing, horse packing and even kayaking/rafting is all right there.  It makes me think of what Moab must have been like 20 years ago, before the numerous hotels and outfitters moved in.

There are a couple of outfitters in Escalante, and we used Escalante Outfitters for the shuttles airport-trailhead, trailhead-cabin and cabin-airport.   The trailhead and start of the canyon is only 2 miles from the airport, but it was hot and it would be a very long 2 miles in the open sun so we arranged a shuttle. (We originally wanted to hike the Boulder Mail Trail from the Boulder airstrip to Escalante but it was far too hot for that trail).

The hike was great, if not a little hot at times.  We hit a heat wave for early June and had 99 degree weather.  There are numerous creek crossings and often we just stayed and walked in the creek for our dog’s sake (we didn’t think to bring booties for his feet).  We camped in Death Hollow, which is a beautiful side canyon with clear-running cool water.  We hiked back out Death Hollow the next day, then continued downstream in Escalante Canyon until we hit Highway 12, where our shuttle was again waiting for us.  This could be a good family adventure, but watch the heat.  Its about 16 miles long, one way using a shuttle.  You can be more prepared than us by realizing ahead of time that one mile in the sand or in the creek takes longer than one mile on a hard packed trail.

We didn’t want to fly back on Sunday with potential bumps or worse, thunderstorms.  So we hiked out Sunday to stay at a log cabin in town for showers, then flew home early Monday – in time for work too.

We found pictographs in this alcove!
Maybe the Anasazi didn't have it too bad after all?
Cactus Wildflowers
Hiking into Death Hollow
Death Hollow

1 thought on “Backpacking Escalante Canyon, Utah

  1. Nice website and nice photos. Escalante is a favorite stop of mine. I do a lot of 4-wheel and motorcycle stuff around there but I’m excited to hike more. Here is another site that has some good flying/hiking stuff: and

    Take care.


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