Squeezing Through Slot Canyons at Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument 

Most people when they think of hiking in Utah they think of Zion or

Arches. However, Grand Staircase-Escalante is one that seems to get

overlooked and I for the life of me cannot figure out why. Not only is this

national monument beautiful, but it provides a lot of diversity from

waterfalls to slot canyons that are definitely for people out looking for

an adventure. I really enjoyed my time in Grand Staircase-Escalante

and I know it will be a time I won’t ever forget.

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My first stop in Grand Staircase-Escalante was at the Calf Creek Recreation Area where I would

sign my life away and head off in search of the dazzling Lower Calf

Creek Falls. I got to the parking lot at around 9am on a Friday in April and

it was already starting to get pretty full. (By the time I left at lunchtime

it was PACKED. Like cars lined up along the road for half a mile packed

so I highly recommend you get here early.) You also will have to pay a

$5 day use fee and fill out a permit so be sure to bring cash for this!

(You can find the kiosk at the end of the parking lot towards the

trailhead for lower calf creek falls.)

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After filling out my permit and placing it on the dashboard of the truck

I headed out onto the trail which starts about 300ft up the road

east of the parking lot. I signed the hiking register

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And then I was on my way to the falls! However, I didn’t even make it a half mile

into my hike before I saw this cool cutout in the rock and decided

I needed to take a picture in it. Typical tourist Amy. lol 

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After my little photoshoot in the rock I continued on the trail. Overall

I have to say that the trail itself was very easy to follow with absolutely

gorgeous scenery. It wasn’t overly strenuous although there are some

areas with sand that just make the trek a little more difficult. You can

also bring your doggo along with you on this hike and I was actually joined

by these two beautiful dogs that belonged to another guy hiking on the

trail. They scared the crap out of me when they came running up behind

me because I had my headphones in and I didn’t hear them, but they

stuck around me and definitely made me feel a little more at ease on the

trail. (Maybe I need to start bringing my cats hiking with me. Hahaha)

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Hiking to Lower Calf Creek Falls

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Trail NameLength (Round Trip)Estimated Hike TimeElevation 
Lower Calf Creek Falls6.7 miles3-4 hours~900ft

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Here fishy fishy

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Hiking on this trail in the dead of summer is probably not going

to be the most fun, however, the waterfall at the end

definitely makes it all worth it. 

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The water was FREEZING cold. Seriously my feet were numb

by the time I made it back to shore! Also the water does get

a lot deeper the closer you get to the waterfall, but I wasn’t about

to find out just how deep with it being so cold. Lol 

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Searching for Slot Canyons

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After my hike out to the falls I was ready to go and conquer

my claustrophobia fears at Zebra Slot Canyon…if I could find it that

is. I managed to find a spot with cell service (which is a rare thing

out here so download as many of your directions as you can before

you come) and I put Zebra Slot Canyon into my phone.

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The views along the highway to Zebra Slot Canyon were just
breathtaking and I just had to stop at a pullout to snap some pics.
If you look close you can even see the blacktop road that runs
right through the rocky hills. 

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Eventually I made it to my turnoff and went down a road called

Hole in the Rock road which I think should have been called

Washboard Road From Hell instead. Seriously, that was one rough

road to drive on. Also, you can drive down this road in a car, but I HIGHLY

recommend you take a SUV or 4×4 instead. Let some air out of your

tires to avoid a blowout because y’all are in for quite the treat and if it has

rained recently don’t even try. You WILL get stuck no matter what

vehicle you are driving. 

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I followed my GPS thinking since Zebra Slot showed up on the map that

it actually knew where it was taking me, but y’all Google couldn’t have

been more wrong. I ended up following this literal cow trail through a pasture

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and then found myself sitting on top of this huge hill looking down on someone’s

campsite. Awkward! Oh and you know what my GPS was telling me to do?

Continue on the road…the road that wasn’t even there! I was sitting on a hill that

looked very much like Pride Rock from the Lion King and good ole Siri was

telling me to just drive right off the edge. Like jeez girl what did I ever do to you?! 

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So now it was decision time. Pride Rock was just barely wider than my

truck with steep sides and nowhere to turn around so at that point I was left with two

options. I could either back the truck up off the hill and into the pasture

or barrel down the side of the hill and then right back up without hopefully

rolling the truck. I was not really feeling either option to be honest, however, unlike

Tow Mater from Cars, I am not the world’s best backup driver sooo I chose option

two. (Probably the more difficult of the options I will admit, but I guess I wanted to see

my demise happen in front of me rather than be surprised by it when backing up. lol) 

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I threw the truck into 4WD and descended down the hill at a very sketchy angle, turned

around at the base, and then gave her hell to get back up the side of the hill and

back out into the pasture. I really didn’t think I was going to make it, but good ole Black

Beauty is quite the truck. 

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I drove through the pasture once again back out to Washboard Road From Hell

and began using the information I found in a blog article instead of my GPS to find

the trailhead. I guess my dad is right that you can’t always trust your GPS because

I found the trail easy peezy once I stopped listening to Siri with her murderous tendencies. 

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So here’s how I found it: Coming from the direction of Escalante you will turn

down Hole in the Rock road and drive on it for almost 8 miles (you can reset your

odometer when you start on the road to help you keep track of the miles). Along the

way you will come across cattle guards in the road and it is at the 3rd one that

you will find the trailhead parking lot off to the right usually evidenced by the cars

that are parked there. 

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3rd Cattle guard. Image taken from the trailhead parking lot. 

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Another shot of the parking lot from the trail which is located right across the road from the parking lot. 

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Hiking to Zebra Slot Canyon

Trail NameLength (Round Trip)Estimated Hike TimeElevation
Zebra Slot Canyon5.2 miles2-3 hours~400ft

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The trail itself I found pretty easy to follow and eventually you will find

yourself walking up to a gate. Just give it a little push and continue on ahead. 

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Here’s another look at the gate.

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The views along the trail are amazing and the red rock with its striations

remind me a lot of the pictures I have seen of The Wave down in Arizona. 

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Eventually you will arrive at a huge open wash called Harris

Wash and the trail becomes a little more difficult to follow. You will see

the whiter sands of Harris Wash in front of you and it might look like you

should cross through the wash to the other side. Don’t do this. The trail on

the other side of the wash will leave you wandering around in the desert longer

than anticipated and eventually takes you to Tunnel Slot Canyon. Instead stay

to the left of the wash (you could also walk in the wash if you want, but

it might be a little more difficult because of the sand. Eventually you will have

to walk in the wash for a little ways though just don’t ever cross to the other side!)

The trail ends right at the mouth of Zebra Slot Canyon. (If you want a better view of

the trail you can see it here on Google Maps.)

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Inside of Zebra Slot

Mouth of the canyon

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Staring into the mouth of the canyon I could hear voices of other

hikers echoing off the narrow walls along with a sound I was hoping

I wouldn’t hear, the sloshing of footsteps through water. Not only was

I going to have to overcome my fear of tight spaces I was also going to

have to overcome my fear of walking in water I can’t see through. *sigh* yay adventure. Lol 

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I waited for the other hikers to emerge and sat down in the sand

to put on my chacos (highly recommend you wear some type of water

shoe and not go barefoot. Like I said you can’t see through the murky

water so protect your feet! You still have to hike back to your car after the

canyon.). While I was putting on my shoes this group of two guys came into

the canyon and started making their way through it so I hurried up and followed

along behind them. (I was nervous and not about to make my way through

there completely alone! Lol) 

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Turns out they were the best guys I could have followed behind because

not only were they super nice and helped me through the canyon, but they

were also very experienced climbers so they knew exactly what they were doing.

So shout-out to Willis & Eli the father and son team from Provo, Utah. I wouldn’t

have made it through that canyon without you!

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Another quick tip for the canyon: it gets extremely narrow in some spots and

so I highly recommend you either don’t bring a bag or bring a small fanny pack.

I tried to lug my hiking backpack through there and it was just not a fun time. I

eventually ended up just ditching it about halfway through and prayed no one would take it. Lol 

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Into the smelly brown water I go…
As you can see the water is almost to my knees!

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The end of the road. It was at this point in the canyon not knowing exactly how deep that pool of water was and there being a huge gap (hard to tell from the picture) from where we were standing to the other side that we called it quits and headed back the way we came. 

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We walked back to the trailhead together taking in the views

and conversing about our lives. 

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Then I made my way back to Tropic, Utah where I would be staying

one final night at the Red Ledges Inn and ate a dinner of leftover pizza from The

Pizza Place and chilled in bed. 

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