Coyote Gulch Escalante River Trip Report
 (May 27 - June 2, 2005) by Larry Walker


"The rancher strings barbed wire across the range, drills wells and bulldozes stock ponds everywhere, drives off the elk and antelope and bighorn sheep, poisons coyotes and prairie dogs, shoots eagle and bear and cougar on sight, supplants the native bluestem and grama grass with tumbleweed, cow shit, cheat grass, snakeweed, anthills, poverty weed, mud and dust and flies--and then leans back and smiles broadly at the Tee Vee cameras and tells us how much he loves the West." - E. Abbey

President Clinton followed the lead of nearly every President of the twentieth century in establishing a National Monument. He established the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument on September 18, 1996. The Monument does not include just one feature, as many monuments and parks do, but instead protects a unique combination of archeological, paleontological, geologic and biologic resources in a relatively unspoiled natural state.

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, ARIZ (AP) -- "Siding with environmentalists in one of the nation's biggest wilderness battles, President Clinton declared 1.7 million acres of southern Utah's red-rock cliffs and canyons as a national monument Wednesday. The election-year move effectively blocks development of one of America's largest known coal reserves, to the dismay of political leaders in Utah, the nation's most Republican state."

"'We can't have mines everywhere and we shouldn't have mines that threaten our national treasures', the President said. Standing at the south rim of the rust-colored Grand Canyon, Clinton invoked a 90-year-old law to create the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument without Congressional approval. He announced his decision near the same spot where Theodore Roosevelt used the same law, the Antiquities Act, to protect the Grand Canyon from development in 1908."

"'We are saying, very simply, our parents and grandparents saved the Grand Canyon for us', the President said, bathed in sunlight breaking through the clouds. 'Today, we will save the Grand Escalante Canyons and the Kaiparowits Plateaus of Utah for our children.'" (Seattle-Daily Journal of Commerce, 9/19/1996) - well, he did do something right...

Just what is the Grand Staircase anyway?

[Pictures link at bottom of report...]

Attendees: Bob Buhrman, Larry Lee, Rex Mast, Marty Pietz (Trip Leader), Larry Walker

General Description: The objectives of this trip were (1) to reset the mind and body - which should be the purpose of all holidays - and (2) to hike some areas in this upper region of Lake Powell that haven't been exposed since the lake was filled back in the 60's. The overall trip was to consist of hiking in Hurricane Wash to Coyote Gulch then down to the Escalante River, day hike up and down the Escalante, and then hike out via Coyote Gulch and Red Well Wash. Coyote Gulch can be reached by two different main trailheads. Red Well trail is about 0.7 miles longer than the Hurricane Wash trail. We chose to go in Hurricane Wash and out Red Well at the suggestion of one of the nice Rangerettes when we stopped at their really swell ranger station (wow! is that place nice). I recommend avoiding Red Well due to cow pollution for about 1/3 of the walk. Because of the snow melt runoff down the Escalante, hiking up or down the Escalante was practically impossible. We abbreviated the trip and then visited some other slot canyons - Peek-A-Boo and Spooky - nearby as well as did some other site seeing. Then we spent some time at our favorite rim of Grand Canyon, the north.

Key Points:
  • Hurricane Wash trailhead is located about 35 miles down the Hole-in-the-Rock road outside of Escalante, Utah.
  • Spring in Hurricane Wash starts 3 to 4 miles from the trailhead.
  • Coyote Gulch is about 5.5 miles from the Hurricane Wash trailhead.
  • Jacob Hamblin Arch (Lobo Arch) located at mile 7.
  • Coyote Natural Bridge is 8.5 miles from the Hurricane Wash trailhead.
  • Cliff Arch is located at mile 10.5.
  • Escalante River is 12.5 miles from the Hurricane Wash trailhead and about 13.4 miles from Red Well trailhead.

    GPS Waypoints:
    Waypoint  Latitude    Longitude   Elev.  Comment
    CINDRS    35,24.863  -111,23.979  5667   Camping location in Sunset Crater cinders
    HWSTH     37,23.124  -111,07.952  4601   Real Hurricane Wash trailhead
    CMP1ST    37,24.879  -111,04.689  4196   First night camp site near spring start
    HWRDWL    37,25.129  -111,03.350  4280   Junction of Hurricane Wash and Red Well
    COYBRD    37,24.974  -111,01.551  4138   Actual mark for Coyote Bridge
    TRNOFF    37,25.885  -111,06.973  4205   Stream jct. for Red Well trailhead
    RDWLTH    37,25.794  -111,08.774  4490   Actual Red Well trailhead
    CARPK1    37,25.875  -111,08.410   Unk   Red Well trailhead from map*
    CARPK2    37,23.547  -111,06.845   Unk   Hurricane Wash trailhead from map
    CLFARC    37,25.193  -111,00.460   Unk   Cliff Arch (Jug Handle)
    COYBRG    37,24.979  -111,01.659   Unk   Coyote Natural Bridge
    COYTRN    37,25.271  -111,09.721   Unk   Turnoff for Red Well trailhead
    JACARC    37,25.135  -111,02.596   Unk   Jacob-Hamblin Arch
    JCTESC    37,25.707  -110,58.886   Unk   Escalante River Coyote Gulch jct.
    JCTFLS    37,28.037  -111,00.111   Unk   Jct. Fools Canyon from map
    JCTHWS    37,25.239  -111,03.496   Unk   Jct. Hurricane Wash and Red Well from map
    JCTSTV    37,26.132  -110,58.945   Unk   Jct. Stevens Canyon
    STVARC    37,25.984  -110,58.745   Unk   Stevens Arch
    SPRWSH    37,24.873  -111,04.657   Unk   Spring in Hurricane Wash from map

    *Map refers to National Geographic's Trails Illustrated "Canyons of the Escalante, Grand Staircase-Escalante NM Utah, USA" 710 Topographic Map (ISBN 0-925873-98-5)

    (Note: Author not responsible for waypoint accuracy or lost persons.)

    Overview Trip Map (cool map)

    Click for Latest Info

    Trip Details:

    A most excellent report from Marty!

    Friday, 5-27-05: Left Phoenix around 19:45 MST. Arrived in Flagstaff around 21:45. Hit Sunset Crater at milepost 430 on RTE 89, FR# 9122M, 29 miles from Denny's in Flagstaff. Stopped for a night in the cinders north of Sunset Crater (CINDRS waypoint). Got there around 23:00.

    Saturday, 5-28-05: Rolled out of Sunset cinders about 06:30 MST. Stopped at Cameron for breakfast. Stopped at Navajo Bridge at Bitter Springs / Marble Canyon. Drove up through Jacob Lake, Fredonia and stopped for lunch in Kanab. Nice town; being californicated like too many others. Drove to Escalante and stopped by ranger station to register. Raining some. Rangers warned against crossing Escalante. Also recommended going in Hurricane Wash and out Red Well. We took their advice. Arrived at Hurricane Wash trailhead about 18:30 MDT (all times referenced from here on are MDT). Walked to just past start of spring (SPRWSH and CMP1ST waypoints) before stopping at around 20:30. Looked like rain so we put tents: no rain after initial small shower. Found interesting lumped-connected rock formations. Evidently, they are called "concretions." Oddly, they look like testicles. Lots of chuckles and interest, but close up examinations were lacking... Pork green chili burros for supper - delicious as always.

    Sunday, 5-29-05: Rolled out about 08:30. After all stops and naps, we arrived at a good camp site just below Coyote Bridge (COYBRG waypoint). Nice amphitheater just below Jacob-Hamblin arch. Hiked down to Cliff Arch (Jug Handle - CLFARC waypoint). Nice waterfall for a shower. Saw a rock fall. Actually saw the rock break loose and fall into the canyon. Made a huge noise when it hit, sounded like a lightning strike and then echoed like thunder across the canyon. Weather excellent: 70-80s F in day, 50s at nights. Deer flies not too bad, but they bite pretty hard. Plenty to see and do. Lots of people here: estimate we saw 30-40 folks. Many groups do the Crack-in-the-Rock to Forty-Mile Ridge loop. Crack-in-the-Rock is at the end of the long arm of the Forty-Mile Road at the Forty-Mile Ridge trailhead. The other end intersects Coyote Gulch about 150 yards east of Jacob-Hamblin Arch, up the route marked "toilet" past the toilet: a long day hike, or a good overnighter. Most take Crack-in-the-Rock in and the "toilet" trail out because the route to Crack-in-the-Rock is a sand dune which is miserable for walking up. Pasta and crab pesto for supper - a new keeper. Satellites, Iridium flares, and shooting stars aplenty.

    Monday, 5-30-05: Happy Memorial Day! We do remember and honor those who paid the ultimate price for our freedoms. Day hiked to Escalante River and Stevens Arch. Started out about 09:00. Got back to camp around 18:00. Larry Lee and company saw a mule deer (doe) on their way back from the Escalante. Many sites look like Indian ruins, but don't appear to be upon closer inspection. Lots of water falls and "tubs" to play in and wash, but the gritty water fills your clothes and shoes up with sand quick. Plenty of people around today. Escalante was fast and cold at about knee deep (check chart above). Creep along ledge to get over to Stevens Arch - minor exposure. Marty, Larry W., and Rex made the trek. Played, swam, napped, showered our way back to camp at about 18:00. Roast beef and mashed 'taters for supper - perfecto. Good starry sky for post supper entertainment. Milky way was full in view by middle of night.

    Tuesday, 5-31-05: Walked out Red Well wash arm today. Left about 09:00; got out at 17:00. Lots of loping and looking. Started from just below Coyote Natural Bridge. Red Well past the cow fence, where the cows are, isn't the prettiest of places. Lots of sand to plod through. Take small stream to left (southeast TRNOFF waypoint). When you see the wide trail going out of wash on left, take it. Deer flies are a nuisance. This route (Red Well) is not recommended. Go back out Hurricane Wash: much nicer. Drove over to and explored Spooky / Peek-A-Boo Gulches (slots) to finish the day. Settled in to eat about 20:15. Bivouacked in parking lot (shhhh). Turkey and stuffing for supper - always a winner.

    Wednesday, 6-01-05: Drove from Peek-A-Boo / Spooky (Dry Fork trailhead) to North Rim of Grand Canyon. Stopped in town of Escalante for breakfast and to support the local economy. Good breakfast burrito. Stopped again in Kanab for fuel and then drove to Grand Canyon. Showers, eats, shopping, and walking then out to the National Forest for an over night stay. We cruised out to Parissawampitts Point for a look. Lovely trail: Rainbow Rim Trail. (Now even rainbows have baggage - sheesh!) Decided to try Fence Point for a better overlook. Much better lookout. Many good lookout spots here right up to the rim. Took lots of pictures. Saw lots of mule deer: one buck. Saw some elk on the way in from Jacob Lake. Saw a porcupine. Found an agreeable spot up the road and camped. Red beans and rice for supper - good stuff.

    Thursday, 6-02-05: Driving home from North Rim of Grand Canyon - nothing eventful, just nice scenery. Stopped in Cameron again and Flagstaff for fuel. Then one last stop in Cordes Jct. for a snack.

    Overall: Marty planned a great trip: very nice area Escalante et al. Wish we could have walked up river. We saw a lot of cool stuff and took lots of pictures. Excellent vacation. Marty also prepared most of the food and menu items: awesome job!

    Enjoyed the trip. It was a lot different than our usual jaunts. Not nearly as physically demanding and we had water aplenty. Was bummed we couldn't get away from the crowds. Also wanted to get up and down stream along the Escalante, but the snow melt raised it up too high to negotiate on foot. Had I known the ease of the trip, I would have brought one of my children. No special skills or equipment were required for the trip. We brought 50' of climbing rope to help with any high water crossings. The weather was great. We had some sprinkles first night. Only a few areas in Coyote Gulch looked worrisome for flash floods. It pleased God to grant us a safe and enjoyable trip that we will remember for a lifetime.

    Rough Animal Inventory: Porcupine (my first in the wild), squirrels, mule deer (even a small buck), elk, fish, rabbits (jacks and cottontails), frogs, lizards (only saw skinks), snake (gopher or king?), cows, plenty o' birds. It did seem odd that we didn't see more critters in the canyons; don't think I saw a single bat.

    Pictures of the trip    |     Link to other trip reports    |     Pre-Trip Webpage    |     Back to top

  • Web Page created by Lorenzo Caminante (Larry Walker in Español).
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    (L-R) Marty, Bob, Rex, Larry L., Larry W.