Luksea Travel Diaries: Grand Staircase-Escalante
In another incredible adventure, Luksea's USA Ambassador Luke Dutton, shares his recent camping trip to the Grand Staircase-Escalante.
This past year, I’ve been exploring much of the landscape within driving distance of southern California, where I currently live. I had a few days free, so I decided to drive out to a place I had been wanting to visit for a while: Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. This area includes a significant portion of open space in southern Utah to the northwest of Lake Powell and is often looked over by those visiting nearby national parks like Zion and Bryce Canyon. I’d briefly passed through the area a few years earlier, traveling from Capitol Reef National Park to Bryce Canyon National Park, and this particular stretch of Utah caught my eye as a place where I definitely wanted to spend more time exploring. Unfortunately, its environmental protections have been significantly reduced recently, and I wanted to see what this place has to offer.
Unlike a national park, one of my favorite perks of Escalante is that it allows dispersed camping, which means you don’t have to reserve a campground ahead of time, most of which are booked months in advance, especially during this past summer 2020. Upon arrival the first evening, I was able to explore a couple of simple-to-find yet beautiful road-side attractions like Devil’s Garden on the way to stake out a campsite off the beaten path. I was easily able to find a little spot at the mouth of a canyon about 100 meters off of a dirt road that proved to be very secluded. I only saw one car pass by the entire time I camped there!
Finding A Campsite
I didn’t know what to expect to find when I went exploring, but every day proved to be different in the best way! Most of Escalante is located on dirt roads of varying condition, and the condition ranges from smooth dirt to impassable mud depending on the time of year and amount of rainfall. Luckily, it was September
and the roads were dry. I have the luxury of owning a very off-road capable vehicle, so I was able to confidently drive through large segments of potentially questionable terrain. My second most useful tool was a trail map I’d purchased on the way. I explored tight slot canyons and incredible rock formations. I found myself driving 60 miles off-road through eroded canyons and on top of tall mesas overlooking Lake Powell, only passing one person on the journey. I was mind- blown with what this obscure national monument had to offer.
Driving off-road 60 miles
When I’d originally researched the area, it took some digging to piece together what to do. Trail descriptions were vague, and poorly marked in many areas. Without the trail map, downloaded GPS map, and advice and photos from others which showed notable landmarks, it would have been easy to get lost on both hiking trails and roads alike. Many people overlook Escalante for a more straight-forward destination that requires significantly less research. In my experience, the places that require more effort to enjoy, are the ones that are
more rewarding in the end. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument lends itself to those adventurous few who take the extra step to do the research and provides for them a more personal, secluded experience with the landscape.
Exploring slot canyons
View of the southern end of Grand Staircase-Escalante
Follow Luke's adventures! @lucas_a_d