Escalante River: Escalante Town to Highway 12 Bridge
ElevationAscent: 1,334' 407 m
Descent: -1,939' -591 m
High: 5,816' 1,773 m
Low: 5,211' 1,588 m
GradeAvg Grade: 4% (2°)
Max Grade: 60% (31°)
Popular runs nearby
The Box Trail
8.9 mi 14.4 km • Point to Point • 1,725 ft Ascent 525.81 m Ascent
Boulder to Highway 12 via Lower Death Hollow
20.0 mi 32.2 km • Point to Point • 1,477 ft Ascent 450.33 m Ascent
Little Death Hollow to Wolverine Canyon
17.9 mi 28.8 km • Point to Point • 2,564 ft Ascent 781.39 m Ascent
Lower Muley Twist Canyon Loop
15.4 mi 24.9 km • Loop • 1,051 ft Ascent 320.29 m Ascent
Peek-A-Boo & Spooky Slot Canyons
2.9 mi 4.6 km • Loop • 403 ft Ascent 122.98 m Ascent
Coyote Gulch Loop Trail
13.5 mi 21.8 km • Loop • 1,479 ft Ascent 450.71 m Ascent
“An excellent in-river run through a beautiful canyon.”— David Carr
Features River/Creek · Views
Need to Know
You'll need two cars (one at the starting trailhead and one at the exit trailhead) or arrange a shuttle. There is no cell service at the Highway 12 bridge so don't count on Uber or calling a friend to pick you up. I tried hitchhiking from the Highway 12 bridge to Escalante Town once and didn't find it to be a very hiker-friendly place as I waited for more than 4 hours for a ride.
Use of this area is free, but you must obtain a backcountry permit from the BLM office in Escalante or fill out at a permit at the trailhead register box.
At the river confluence, there is a grove of trees perfect for setting up a hammock for overnight stay about halfway through the run. The Escalante riverbed is sandy, wide, and shallow, and the valley is enclosed by Navajo sandstone.
Sometimes you alternate from one side of the river to the other to mitigate curves, but the south side of the river generally has the most interesting features. Look for the Escalante Natural Bridge along the way, as well as an Anasazi cliff dwelling slightly west of the bridge, which include petroglyphs. Most of the route is best accomplished by running in the river itself.
This run reminded me a lot of Zion's Narrows at Zion National Park, but it is a lot more accessible, easy to schedule, a less regulated area, and less dangerous for flash floods.
Land Manager: BLM Utah - Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument