After our day at Zion National Park recently, we made our way to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument where we weaved in and out of slot canyons for the first time. After a hike in the hot desert and bouldering up a 12-foot wall, we were greeted by a mile of unique rock formations and narrow slot canyons. It was one of the coolest hikes I have ever done!
In this article, I would love to share with you my experiences at Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and provide you with a couple of recommendations for your adventure. But first, a little about me! I’m Emma Wong-Stephens (@_emwong_). I was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada but have been residing in Berkeley, California since 2014.
My passion for travel started at a young age, as my parents would take my brother and I on big summer break trips every year. Some of my favorite trips included Thailand, Cuba and Italy. It was really impactful being able to experience new cultures at such a young age. Then, as I got older, my first trips without my parents included Spain and Costa Rica (both associated with school). These trips spurred on my travel bug even more.
I went on to start The Weekend Abroad in 2013 as a way of documenting my travels and to share affordable travel stories with others as a student on a limited budget! In 2019, I started a new job for a tech company that has taken up a lot of my time – so the blog has mainly been on Instagram where I focus on hidden gems and hikes. Even though I’m not a student anymore, my hope has always been to share accessible travel with others.
My Incredible Day at Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
I had seen amazing photos of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument online and it fit perfectly into our road trip given we were in the Utah and Arizona area to see national parks. After much research, we concluded that we only had time for one day. So we had to make the most of it! There is an unbelievable array of sights in the area. Ultimately, we saw the Spooky and Peekaboo Slot Canyons, Devils Garden and Grosvenor Arch.
The highlight for me was the Spooky and Peekaboo Slot Canyons. We had never seen anything like it before. After walking through the quiet desert, you have to boulder up a slippery 12-foot vertical wall to get to the canyons. You are then greeted by an incredible series of rock formations and slot canyons, some of which are only 12 inches wide! You have to use a rope to scale some of this trail too, which was super cool and fun.
Because we only had one day, we didn’t get the chance to experience many different activities. But what I recommend is getting yourself to a slot canyon hike! The rock formations are extraordinarily unique. I particularly enjoyed the part where we had to basically use our back and feet to inch down the canyon walls to eventually use a rope to get further down the canyon. How cool is it to say you traversed a 12 inch canyon?!
Other Amazing Places near Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
I recommend seeing all the national parks and monuments in the area: Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef and Vermilion Cliffs. Each park greets you with natural beauty and unique formations. We also went sledding at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park on our way out to Arizona from Grand Staircase-Escalante! That was a really unique experience as well.
What you Need to Know Before you Go
We stayed in Bryce, Utah due to its proximity to Bryce Canyon National Park. However, I recommend staying in Escalante when you are there. I also suggest going to the Visitor Center in town before you enter the park. They have tips on weather conditions and hiking trails (and a restroom)!
Make sure you drive slowly on the dirt roads. Most of the roads in the national monument are super rocky and we were unfortunate to get a hole in our tire. Luckily, we had a generator which filled up the tire enough to get us to the nearest town. That was definitely a scary moment.
Be sure to scale up the 12-foot wall to enter the Spooky and Peekaboo Slot Canyons. And don’t enter the other way, as it’s a one-way trail. Many people don’t realize that it’s a one-way trail and they end up getting stuck. Most of the canyons only allow for one-way traffic because of the narrowness.
Lastly, always look out for the totems on the trails. The desert is vast and trails aren’t necessarily clear. So the totems are super useful. Thanks for reading and have fun at Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument!