There is nothing quite like exploring the desert backcountry. Some of the wildest, and most intensely beautiful, areas of Southern Utah are the canyons of the Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument. Anyone who wants to try a little exploration should check these canyons out.
We at the Lodge at Red River Ranch have written extensively about Calf Creek. This is in fact one of the best canyons in the Grand Staircase. You get to experience the sudden change in desert elevation, the fun of water-hole swimming, and the ruins of Native American tribal structures. There are also several other canyons that join Calf Creek. Here is a list of our favorites. (It is extremely helpful to have a USGS map with you, it’ll help you find the trailheads and keep you safe.)
Peek-a-boo Gulch is a short trail that takes you through a winding slot canyon. You will have to do some navigating and climbing to get through the twists and turns. Located on Hole-in-the-Rock Road.
Coyote Gulch is a longer, more strenuous trail (you may wish to camp overnight.) The trail will take you near Lake Powell. On the way you will see lots of water and wetlands. There are also great arches, some of which you get to pass through.
Death Hollow is one of the most demanding, and rewarding, canyons in the area. Located near Boulder, in the northern region of the Grand Staircase National Monument. You will have to wade, or sometimes swim, through deep water, climb over rock formations, and traverse steep inclines. It is best to have a shuttle car waiting at the end of the trail.
Since hiking in the high desert is both exciting and dangerous, make sure you take the necessary precautions. If you’re not in the mood for roughin’ it this trip, you can still enjoy the magnificence of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Simply drive through for the road-trip of a lifetime.