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5 Exciting Reasons to Visit Escalante in the Winter

Explore the Unforgettable Beauty of Escalante in the Winter!

Winter in Escalante is not just a season; it’s an enchanting experience waiting to be discovered. While many travelers flock to famous destinations during the summer months, Escalante in the winter offers a unique and serene adventure. Escalante, Utah is home to the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. One of the best things about Escalante is that it is family and pet-friendly. Let’s dive into the top five reasons why this hidden gem should be your next winter getaway!

A Brief History of Escalante, Utah and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Escalante, Utah: A Story of Exploration and Settlement

The history of Escalante, a small town in southern Utah, is deeply intertwined with the spirit of exploration and the rugged beauty of the American West. Named after Silvestre Vélez de Escalante, a Franciscan missionary and explorer who was part of the first European expedition in the region in 1776, the town’s origins are rooted in exploration and discovery.

Settled by Mormon pioneers in 1876, Escalante’s early history is marked by isolation and self-reliance due to its remote location. The town became a hub for ranching and farming, with its inhabitants carving out a living from the harsh yet beautiful landscape.

Escalante in the Winter

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument: A Geological Marvel

In 1996, President Bill Clinton designated the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, an area encompassing nearly 1.9 million acres of land. This proclamation marked a significant moment in the conservation of America’s natural heritage.

The monument is renowned for its stunning geological features, including the Grand Staircase, a series of vast and colorful cliffs that descend from Bryce Canyon National Park towards the Grand Canyon. The area’s unique topography is a treasure trove for geologists and paleontologists, with its layers of rock revealing a rich tapestry of Earth’s history.

Cultural and Scientific Significance

The Grand Staircase-Escalante area has been inhabited by various Native American tribes for centuries, including the Ancestral Puebloans and the Paiute tribe. The region is rich in archaeological sites, with ancient ruins and rock art providing insights into these early inhabitants’ lives.

In recent years, the monument has become a hotspot for scientific research, particularly in paleontology. Numerous dinosaur fossils have been discovered here, shedding light on species that roamed the earth millions of years ago.

Reason 1: Experience the Serenity and Solitude of the Season

The winter season in Escalante offers a sense of serenity and solitude that is hard to find elsewhere because the entire town is empty! There are only a few places like the Escalante Cabins & RV Park open along with the local grocery store and gas stations. The peacefulness of the snow-covered landscapes provides a perfect opportunity for reflection and rejuvenation. Whether you’re looking for a solitary retreat or a quiet adventure with loved ones, Escalante in the winter is the place to be.

Reason 2: Visit Lower Calf Creek Falls

Lower Calf Creek Falls, nestled in the heart of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah, is a breathtaking natural wonder that attracts visitors from all over the world. This stunning waterfall, which cascades over a 126-foot cliff into a crystal-clear, emerald pool, is the reward for a moderately challenging 6-mile round-trip hike through the beautiful Calf Creek Canyon.

The trail to the falls is not only an opportunity to witness this spectacular waterfall but also a journey through an enchanting landscape, adorned with Native American rock art and diverse flora and fauna. The serene ambiance, combined with the soothing sounds of the falling water, makes Lower Calf Creek Falls a perfect destination for nature lovers seeking a tranquil escape in a picturesque setting.

Reason 3: Magical Winter Scenery in Peekaboo and Spooky Slot Canyons

For those who love a scenic winter drive, Hole in the Rock Road is a must. This BLM route leads to Peekaboo, Spooky Slot Canyons and Dry Narrows which offers stunning views of the landscape blanketed in snow. It’s an adventurous drive, sometimes requiring a four-wheel drive, which adds to the excitement of exploring Escalante in the winter. Remember to check road conditions as they can vary. When we went towards the end of December the weather was cold with snow in certain areas but the Hole in the Rock Road was dry. I aired down my truck’s tires so that I could fly over the rocks and ruts on the road!

Peekaboo and Spooky Slot Canyons

When you think of ‘Escalante in the winter’, imagine the Peekaboo and Spooky Slot Canyons transformed into a wonderland. The intricate rock formations dusted with snow create a magical atmosphere, offering a completely different experience than in the summer. The cooler temperatures make hiking more comfortable, and the winter light casts enchanting shadows, perfect for photographers and nature enthusiasts alike.

Getting to Peeakboo and Spooky Slot Canyons

Spooky Slot Canyons is very narrow so going in the Winter has an advantage of less people around. The trails should be followed in one direction as it’s not possible to pass through Spooky Slot Canyons with 2-way traffic.

Peekaboo and Spooky Slot Canyons Trail

I would highly recommend you download and get AllTrails+, this will allow you to download the maps offline and still have GPS coordinates as the trail is hard to about 1.5 miles in from Rim Trail. There are some hikers that left markers such as stacked rocks to help guide you but it’s still better with AllTrails. Note that we use Verizon and did not have cell service after the car park area. This trail is also dog friendly and since there we barely saw other hikers we had them off leash most of the way.

Peekaboo Slot Canyons

When you get to Peekaboo Slot Canyons entrance, you’ll need to climb up about 10 ft. There are some footholds and it’s not too bad if you have good shoes. It was definitely challenging with dogs and kids unless you’re willing to carry them up.

Peekaboo and Spooky Slot Canyons

As you go through Peekaboo Slot Canyons, it will take you through to Spooky Slot Canyons. We did not attempt it due to the dogs and children.

Peekaboo Slot Canyons

Reason 4: Tranquil Dry Narrows Hike

Escalante’s Dry Narrows hike is a sight to behold during winter. The lack of summer crowds means you’ll have the trails mostly to yourself, allowing for a tranquil and introspective hike. The contrast of the snow against the red rock formations is visually striking, and the crisp winter air adds a refreshing touch to your adventure. The Dry Narrows hike are near the entrance to Peekaboo Slot Canyons. The loop takes you through the canyons and back out to Rim Trail.

Reason 5: Discover the Wonders of Escalante Petrified Forest State Park

Winter is the perfect time to explore the Escalante Petrified Forest State Park. With fewer visitors, you can enjoy the park at a leisurely pace. The petrified wood, with its beautiful colors, stands out brilliantly against the white snow, creating a surreal landscape. It’s a fantastic spot for those interested in geology or simply looking for a unique sight. We especially loved the sunset over the partially frozen lake.


Escalante in the winter is a hidden treasure waiting to be explored. From the the captivating Lower Calf Creek Falls, mystical Peekaboo and Spooky Slot Canyons to the serene Dry Narrows, the adventurous Hole in the Rock Road, and the awe-inspiring Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, there’s something for every traveler. So pack your winter gear and embark on a journey to discover the quieter, yet equally mesmerizing side of Escalante. Don’t just chase the sun; sometimes, the most unforgettable adventures are found in the tranquility of winter! Hit me up if you have any questions.

Note that Capitol Reef National Park is only 90 minutes away from Escalante, we did not have a chance to visit it this trip so we left it out of this article but it’s definitely worth considering adding another day to your Escalante trip to visit the Waterpocket Fold, a 100 mile long geologic monocline (a wrinkle on earth). The scenic drive will be closed April to October 2024 for rehabilitation.

Even Chase had fun at Escalante

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