The Grand Staircase Escalante is one of my favorite places to hike, especially when it comes to desert hiking. This area of southern Utah is bursting with epic hiking trails including waterfalls, slot canyons, views, and so much more.

Where is Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument?

The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is in southern Utah and is one of the largest areas of protected land. It spans across an area of approximately 1.9 million acres (7,700 square kilometers) and is known for its rugged canyons, mesas, cliffs, and natural rock formations. The monument is situated between the small towns of Kanab and Escalante. It is a remote and relatively untouched wilderness, offering lots of opportunities for hiking, camping, and backpacking.

Map of The Best Grand Staircase Escalante Hikes

Top 10 Best Grand Staircase Escalante Hikes

Coyote Gulch & Jacob Hamblin Arch

Distance: 5-26mi (depending on route)

This hike is probably the most famous in the area. It’s become popular on Instagram due to some of the absolutely incredible photos taken here. Also, it’s not a very long hike to get to the arches, which deceives many into thinking this is a simple easy hike. The hike takes you through the mesmerizing beauty of a narrow slot canyon, with towering walls, cascading waterfalls, and lush vegetation. The main attraction is the impressive Jacob Hamblin Arch, a massive natural sandstone formation that leaves you in awe of its sheer size and intricate detail. And if you decide to continue further into the canyon or even to spend the night, you’ll find 5 more amazing arches waiting and a “not so secret” lagoon.

More About Hiking Coyote Gulch Here

Peek-a-Boo and Spooky Gulch

Distance: 3.5mi (including both)

This was the MOST FUN I’ve ever had on a day hike! These canyons are more like working through a jungle gym than going on a desert hike. These slot canyons offer a thrilling adventure as you navigate through narrow passages, squeeze through tight spaces, and marvel at the unique rock formations. The contrast between the light filtering through Peek-a-Boo’s high walls and the dark, twisted corridors of Spooky Gulch creates a captivating journey for hikers seeking an unforgettable exploration.

More About Hiking Peek-a-Boo and Spooky Gulch Here

Lower Calf Creek Falls

Distance: 6.2mi

Who doesn’t love finding a massive waterfall in the middle of the desert? The trail winds through a scenic desert oasis, leading to a stunning 126-foot waterfall cascading into a crystal-clear pool below. Along the way, you’re treated to breathtaking views of towering cliffs, ancient petroglyphs, and diverse desert flora, making it a truly rewarding adventure for nature enthusiasts. It gets popular on weekends though.

More About Hiking Lower Calf Creek Falls Here

Zebra Slot Canyon

Distance: 5.2mi

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Known for its distinctive striped patterns on the canyon walls (hence it’s name), this hike requires some scrambling and navigating through tight spaces. The trail leads you through a stunning slot canyon adorned with mesmerizing striped patterns on its walls, creating a unique visual spectacle.

More About Hiking Zebra Slot Canyon Here

Devil’s Garden

Distance: 1mi

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A short loop trail that takes you amidst a collection of intriguing rock formations, including towering hoodoos, natural arches, and sculpted sandstone structures. It’s right next to Zebra Slot Canyon, so if you’re in the area, might as well check this out too, but not really something to do as the highlight of the day because it’s so short. Panoramic views of the surrounding desert with diverse and otherworldly formations that will make you feel like you’ve stepped into a fantastical realm.

More About Hiking Devil’s Garden Here

Golden Cathedral

Distance: 8mi

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A challenging but rewarding hike that takes you to a magnificent alcove with multiple natural arches and hanging gardens. The trail takes you through stunning canyons and red rock formations, culminating in the magnificent Golden Cathedral alcove. This natural wonder features multiple natural arches and hanging gardens, creating a breathtaking sight. The journey requires some route finding and scrambling skills.

More About Hiking The Golden Cathedral Here

Cosmic Ashtray

Distance: 8.3 miles

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The Cosmic Ashtray is a unique geologic formation located in the Devil’s Garden area of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. It requires some off-trail navigation and scrambling to reach this unusual rock feature resembling a large bowl or ashtray. Hiking Cosmic Ashtray takes you on an off-trail adventure through the unique landscape of Devil’s Garden in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The trail requires careful navigation and scrambling skills as you explore the otherworldly formations, including the fascinating Cosmic Ashtray, a large bowl-like rock feature that stands as a testament to the area’s geological wonders.

More About Hiking The Cosmic Ashtray Here

Willis Creek Narrows

Distance: 4.8mi
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A relatively easy hike through a beautiful slot canyon with towering walls and a meandering creek. As you hike along the creek, you’ll be surrounded by towering sandstone walls that narrow and twist, creating a mesmerizing and intimate setting. The hike is relatively easy, with minimal obstacles, making it accessible for hikers of various skill levels.

More About Hiking Willis Creek Narrows Here

Big Horn Canyon

Distance: 6 miles
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Big Horn Canyon is a remote and challenging hike that leads to a hidden canyon featuring towering cliffs, rugged terrain, and the possibility of spotting desert bighorn sheep. The hike requires route finding and scrambling skills into a rugged and untouched wilderness. The trail winds through a striking canyon with towering cliffs, offering breathtaking views and a sense of awe-inspiring solitude.

More About Hiking Big Horn Canyon Here

Cottonwood Narrows

Distance: 3.7mi
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An off-the-beaten-path adventure that immerses you in a narrow canyon with soaring walls and interesting rock formations. The trail leads you through towering walls of sandstone, creating a dramatic and intimate atmosphere. The hike requires some route finding and occasional scrambling.

More About Hiking Cottonwood Narrows Here

More Hikes In the Area (Didn’t Make Top 10)

Upper and Lower Hackberry Canyons

Distance: 3.5mi
Photo by iBoyer
These interconnected slot canyons offer a thrilling and challenging adventure. The hike takes you through narrow passages with towering walls, carved by the forces of water over time. The slot canyons present unique geological formations and dramatic color variations. The hike requires some technical skills, including scrambling and route finding, making it an exciting challenge for experienced adventurers seeking an immersive and unforgettable experience.

More About Hiking Upper and Lower Hackberry Canyons Here

Escalante River Trail

Distance: up to 15mi

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This scenic trail follows the Escalante River through a rugged and remote canyon offering stunning views of towering cliffs and unique rock formations. As you trek along the trail, you’ll encounter picturesque waterfalls, tranquil pools, and lush vegetation, creating a serene oasis in the desert landscape.

More About Hiking Escalante River Trail Here

Toadstool Hoodoos

Distance: .75 miles

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An easy family-friendly hike that leads to an otherworldly landscape of mushroom-shaped hoodoos. The trail leads you through a desert environment, eventually revealing a collection of unique and fascinating mushroom-shaped rock formations known as hoodoos. These peculiar formations are the result of erosion and weathering over millions of years.

More About Hiking Toadstool Hoodoos Here

Phipps Arch

Distance: 8.8 – 10.4 miles
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Phipps Arch is a natural arch located in the Escalante River Canyon. This hike starts at the Egypt Trailhead and follows the Escalante River, eventually reaching the arch. It’s a moderate to difficult hike due to the rugged terrain and river crossings, but the reward is the impressive Phipps Arch at the end.

More About Hiking Philips Arch Here

Why is this one of the best areas to go hiking?

The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is considered one of the best areas for hiking due to its unique and diverse natural features. I’ve found that I’m just naturally drawn to this area as so many of the places that I see and say “I have to hike that” end up being in this region – and for good reason!

It’s Friggin’ Beautiful

The monument showcases stunning geological formations, including colorful cliffs, deep canyons, natural bridges, and slot canyons. The landscape is incredibly varied, ranging from wide open spaces to narrow, intricate rock formations. This scenic beauty provides a visually captivating experience that you’ll never forget.

It’s Remote

The Grand Staircase-Escalante is one of the most remote and least crowded national monuments in the United States. It offers a sense of solitude and immersion in nature, allowing hikers to experience the wilderness in a more pristine and undisturbed manner. For all of the hiking we’ve done here, there’s almost no one around (except for on weekends on some of the super popular hikes).

Vast Trail System

It has an extensive trail system that caters to everyone of all skill levels and preferences. You can find trails that range from easy, short walks to more challenging and multi-day backpacking adventures.

Slot Canyons Galore!

This area is renowned for its slot canyons, that’s usually why most people come here. These narrow, winding canyons carved by water over millions of years offer a unique and thrilling experience. Exploring these slot canyons can be an exciting adventure, requiring navigation through tight spaces and sometimes requiring scrambling or rappelling skills. It’s like being in a real-life Indiana Jones movie!

Wildlife and Natural Diversity

The monument is home to a wide range of plant and animal species, including desert bighorn sheep, coyotes, pronghorn, and various bird species. Hiking in this area provides the chance to encounter and observe diverse wildlife and appreciate the delicate balance of ecosystems.

Remember to Leave No Trace

As always, remember to Leave No Trace when visiting this area in order to preserve its pristine beauty and protect its fragile ecosystems. This land is still wild, which is rare, so it’s important to minimize our impact on the environment and leaving it as we found it. The delicate desert ecosystems in the area are easily disrupted by human activities, and even small actions like trampling vegetation or leaving behind trash can have long-lasting consequences. Stay on the trails and pick up after yourself!



  1. When we get lost in a forest we end up circling the area coming to the same point again. Didn’t expect to be referred to your site after a year of going through your Big Pine lake hike guide (my second trip to that place turned into a bummer but escaped a disaster luckily) for Grand Staircase Escalante! Once again thanks for a detailed well written post. I ended up here while searching for info about Coyote Gulch. Have done only two of the hikes (Lower Creek falls and Toadstool Hoodoos) listed in this post but plan on doing other shortly . Your guide is going to help a lot in planning for them. Appreciate for documenting all the small details that matter a lot and is very helpful in your guides.

    If you visit Page or Kanab again check the Wahweap hoodoos. It’s a beautiful place and a nice long walk/hike .

    • Glad they have helped you! Thanks for stopping by!


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