Escalante: Devil's Garden & Lower Calf Creek Falls - ClubTread Community

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post #1 of (permalink) Old 04-24-2010, 02:11 PM Thread Starter
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Default Escalante: Devil's Garden & Lower Calf Creek Falls

After visiting Kodachrome Basin State Park, Utah (which I wrote about in another TR), Rejuvanate and I headed east to get a taste of the Escalante area. We had one day to spend, and a low clearance 2WD rental car. It was early in the season (March 25) and many of the roads in the area were still apparently impassable. So we stopped in the visitor centre and asked, "We'd like to do some hiking. Where can we go with a 2WD?" The employee said, "You can go to Devil's Garden, and you can go to Lower Calf Creek Falls."

So we went for the 2-for-1 deal and did both.

This is the town of Escalante, charmingly in the middle of nowhere. Most places to eat seemed to still be closed for the season.


Don't eat here (In the window, you can see Rejuvenate waiting for her worst meal ever)


The Moon guide to Utah had described this place as serving "home made food." In retrospect, we realized that they hadn't actually said it was good. For two days afterward, we were half waiting for food poisoning to set in.

Now, we headed out of town and down the unpaved Hole-in-the-Rock road. Apparently many wonderful places lie down this road if you have lots of time and a 4WD, but it's a good road for the 12 miles to Devil's Garden.


"Outstanding"....oooh our expectations are high now!

Instilling an appropriate sense of caution before we set out:


Actually, this is a place you can just wander around and explore for a few minutes or all day, without ever getting too far from your vehicle. There's no actual trail; just a picnic area and endless exploring. We spent maybe 1-2 hours having a look around, bearing in mind we still had another hike to do that day:



Do you see the cartoon character face here? With the swooping side-parted hairstyle?




Next, we headed further east to the start of the Lower Calf Creek Falls hike. It's an absolutely beautiful drive along Hwy 12, though as the driver I had to keep my eyes on the road to avoid launching us off a cliff.

Just in case you were tempted to pick up the rattlesnakes:


The hike is easy, about 6 miles (9.7 km) round trip, and follows a wide canyon culminating in a beautiful waterfall.


After a full day out, we were getting tired and now I began to dream of Greek food: prawn and scallop souvlaki, succulently grilled to perfection and drizzled with olive oil, fresh lemon juice and fragrant herbs. Served with fresh, wholesome Greek salad with garden-ripe tomatoes and a healthy dose of feta. Oooh, and some pita and tzatziki for good measure. Alas, it was not to be; such things are not available in this area and we had to settle for Boston Pizza at 11 PM in Cedar City. The next morning we woke up to this


...and carefully made our way back to sunny St. George for more adventures with Rented Mule.

More on that later...
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 04-24-2010, 02:44 PM
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Yet another place I now need to go
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 04-24-2010, 03:36 PM
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[^] Terrific!

My kids (and my wife and I!) really enjoyed the Devil's Garden area. Like Goblin Valley, it's a popular spot for scrambling around and checking out the cool rock formations. I did Lower Calf Creek Falls in the evening, returning to the trailhead just in time for full dark. Very pretty spot, those falls.

For future reference, Hell's Backbone Grill, about 20 minutes further east of Lower Calf Creek Falls, in Boulder, is an amazing restaurant! The food is fantastic (if a little pricey) and it's a nice spot, too. In Escalante itself, the pizza and sandwiches at Escalante Outfitters isn't bad at all. (Plus you can get a shower there, which I really appreciated while camping in the area.



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post #4 of (permalink) Old 04-24-2010, 11:26 PM
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cool.

We drove Devils Backbone last summer. We had lunch at a good place in Escalante. Escalante cafe I think it was called, it also sold outdoor clothing.



we wanted to do calf creek falls, but we also wanted to do this drive, and drive down the Burr trail through Capitol Reef



and camp at San Rafael Reef. We didn't camp at the reef since it was raining so we drove to Grand Junction.

nice trip.
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 04-25-2010, 09:03 AM
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I agree Escalante doesn't have much to offer and we never took advantage of its "amenities" while we were camping in Escalante Petrified Forest State Park which is a really neat place. This is an excellent base for many excursions, among others are Bryce, Hole-in-the-Rock, Grand Staircase Escalante, Capitol Reef via the unforgettable drive on the Hogsback (Hwy 12) - not to be missed!

Thanks for posting your TR's and pictures of your Utah vacation, Tracy, they brought back a lot of memories.
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 04-25-2010, 09:26 AM
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David here:

I have really enjoyed this series of trip reports - I had the good fortune to make my own trip out to Utah last fall.

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quote:we headed out of town and down the unpaved Hole-in-the-Rock road. Apparently many wonderful places lie down this road if you have lots of time and a 4WD
Provided that it hasn't rained recently and the road is dry you can get just about anywhere with only a high clearance vehicle - I had no problems reaching the Dry Fork Gulches (Peek-a-boo, Spooky) and marvelous Coyote Gulch in our Ford Ranger.

I don't want to hijack this trip report but if anyone is interested in seeing my photos of the area they are posted herehttp://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewt...529&highlight=

Cheers
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 04-25-2010, 10:12 AM
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As far as vehicles on the HITR Road goes, it helps to have a rental. A couple of trips ago, my rental was supposed to be an "Intermediate SUV" - and they gave me a Mazda 5. It's more of a lowered minivan. It did manage to get me to both the 40 Mile Ridge road, for a hike through Coyote Gulch, and out to Spooky/Peekaboo. Not very much damage, and none of it visible from eye level... The worst thing about that road is the washboarding. The best thing about that road:


the cattle drives!
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 04-25-2010, 01:09 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah, I'd almost call this part of the trip a one-day "recon mission" to get a sense of it and what I'd like to explore when I come back. And come back I will. The time of year and recent weather conditions meant a lot of those backroads were impassable (according to the road report in the visitor centre).

David and Karen, I love the photos you linked me to. We wished there was some foliage on the trees at Calf Creek, for better photography. We especially kept commenting on how nice it would be in the fall. I might have to make a fall trip one of these years. The good thing about going when we did was that the place was not overrun with people!

Kevin: love the cattle picture!!
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 04-26-2010, 11:01 PM
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So nice!!
Great pictures! You two got to see two very nice jewels for locations. Never been to Devil's
Garden. I've gotta get out there this summer.
cheers!
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 04-26-2010, 11:26 PM
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More beautiful photos. When I think of it, want an amazing contrast between the desert red dry landscape and our higher elevation white snowy playgrounds (full of frozen water). What a thought ! Nice to see the culture side of your trip too..

The one thing in common, that one pic of the car with snow on its roof....

K
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post #11 of (permalink) Old 05-05-2010, 09:45 PM
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Nice report(s) Tracy. Now you have to go back and hike upper Calf Creek, so you can look down the falls!

FWIW, the Hole in the Rock road conditions can be pretty changeable, especially south of the county boundary. When its wet, that lovely looking gravel surface gives way to the clay bed underneath. I barely got my Jeep out of there once during a thunderstorm. All the side roads are pretty rough (except maybe Harris Wash and the dry fork access.
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post #12 of (permalink) Old 05-05-2010, 10:09 PM
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Wow Thank you, great ideas for future trips ...
Loved your final photo of the car in the snow are you sure you left BC ?

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quote:Originally posted by wilderness_seeker


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post #13 of (permalink) Old 08-02-2010, 12:47 AM
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Beautiful...

I would love this as a painting....

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post #14 of (permalink) Old 08-02-2010, 12:49 AM
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The colours are so amazing. Beauty pictures and place.
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