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Backpacker Magazine – September 2005

ESCALANTE: A Complete Adventure Guide

When Utahans really wants to disappear, they head to the magnificent canyons of Grand Staircase-Escalante.

by: Steve Howe


Trip Planner

Getting There:
Salt Lake City and Las Vegas are 5 to 7 hours away by car, but your real challenge is getting to trailheads. Poorly marked dirt roads are the norm, and the clay soils become impassable when wet. Four-wheel-drive helps, but always stock extra food and water in case you get stranded.

Season:
Spring and fall. Locals say late September and early October are best.

Cautions:
Heat, remote-ness, lack of water, tough routefinding, and loose rock combine to make hiking here more demanding than most forest and mountain environments. Canyoneering requires special caution, because one-way rappels, exposed scrambles, and frigid pools can be unforgiving. Avoid canyon bottoms when thunderstorms threaten. Mandatory safety items: good maps, compass, extra food and water, and an itinerary left with a responsible person.

Regulations:
Permits (free) are required for all backcountry overnights. Get them at BLM visitor centers located in the monument's gateway towns, or self-register at trailheads. Group size limit is 12. Campfires prohibited.

Maps: Visitor centers carry USGS quads. Guides: Hiking and Exploring the Paria River, by Michael Kelsey. Canyoneering 3; Loop Hikes in Utah's Escalante, by Steve Allen. Contact: (435) 826-5499


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