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