When the Escalante River swells with snow melt, wildflowers bloom everywhere and the water pockets overflow, we explore a system of gorges that drain a large area of red slick rock. We see 1000 year old Anasazi writings and hike ancient trails up and out of the canyons. The hike into this base camp is rated easy. The 4.5 mile hike to base camp includes a 1200' descent and steep elevation changes. As in all of our canyon trips, the option exists for either exploring many miles of incredible canyon country or wandering at an easy going pace in our beautiful surroundings. In order to explore the country and accommodate different interests and abilities we split into smaller groups on the day hikes.
Day 1: We meet in Boulder, UT at 9 a.m. We provide a duffel bag for your gear (25 lbs. max.) and drive to the trail head 1,200' above the Escalante River. We hike down into the Escalante Canyon and arrive at camp along the river under a grove of enormous cottonwood trees (4.5 miles).
Day 2: Widemouth canyon has two forks to explore. One of the forks is a winding narrows that goes for many miles. It is hard to stop hiking in this intriguing narrows for each canyon bend beckons you to continue. In places you may touch both walls at once and the sky is just a narrow strip of blue.
Day 3: We hike up to the base of a Navajo Sandstone cliff and follow an ancient trail with spectacular views. Granaries with corn cobs, broken pottery and, in a huge alcove, a granary with a round front door so intact that fingerprints in the mortar are still visible are all part of the day.
Day 4: A spur off the main canyon is a beautiful walk beneath overhanging tapestried walls with a wonderful surprise at the end. We continue our hike to the upper part of the canyon where ancient pecked steps allow access to a red rock gorge. Those who choose to will chimney into a Narrows that twists inside a purple gorge between folds of polished sandstone.
Day 5: On this day we will see 3 petroglyph panels on the Escalante River. The first is by far the largest panel in the Escalante Canyons and dates back at least 4000 years. Another has large bird-like figures. Our hike continues to the tightest narrows of all. As we enter the sky disappears and we are left with occasional shafts of light.
Day 6: On the way back to the trail head we have the option to explore a lush riparian fork of a side canyon and we should be back in Boulder, UT by 6 p.m. (dinner not included).
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USA Utah Outdoor: Land Rambler Hiking & Trekking Camping
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