Getting to Escalante!
From Las Vegas:
Rent an SUV: From Dollar, Thrifty, Alamo or a personal favorite. The SUV will give you access to areas during your visit to Utah that a regular car will not.
Leaving Las Vegas: Follow the signs to the I-15 Freeway going north towards Salt Lake City. Once you get out of town the driving across the Eastern Mojave is beautiful and easy. You will travel through the Beautiful Virgin River Gorge, enjoy the view. Your next stop (117 miles) is in St George, Utah. If you take the “Washington” exit and turn right, you will see several fast food options including “In and Out Burger”, a favorite out west. There is a Wal-Mart across the street if you need to buy sunscreen, ice chest, etc. Get back on I-15 north toward Salt Lake.
*From St George you have three options: Through Zion, over Cedar Mountain or “Hwy 20”. Here’s a brief description of each.
Cedar Mountain: This is a quick and beautiful route to Escalante, however it is a big mountain with an initially steep grade and few passing lanes. Continue north on I-15 to Cedar City (48 miles). Take the first Cedar City exit and it will put you directly on Main Street, continue north. Top off your gas at “Smiths” on the right as you pass through town. Down just a bit on the right you will see a sign for Hwy 14/Cedar Breaks, turn right and slow down, this is a spectacular drive! It takes a little under an hour to cross the mountain (41 miles), stop just before the Summit (9,990 ft) at the scenic overlook. What a view of Zion National Park and beyond! Continue east on Hwy 14 to intersection with Hwy 89. Take a left on Hwy 89 and drive north for approximately 25 miles to the intersection with Hwy 12. Turn right/east on Hwy 12. **See Hwy 12 description at asterisks* below.
“Hwy 20”: This is the easiest drive to Escalante, with the fewest steep grades and the most two lane driving. Continue North on I-15 to Cedar City (48 miles). Take the first Cedar City exit and it will put you directly on Main Street. A few blocks down on the right you will see a “Smiths”, top off the tank. Turn around and go back to I-15 and start north toward Salt Lake City. It’s approximately 40 miles to the Hwy 20 exit. Take the exit and turn right (east) onto Hwy 20. It is an easy 20 mile drive over to Hwy 89 with lots of passing lanes and a newly surfaced road. At Hwy 89 turn right (south) toward Panquitch. It’s 10 miles to the blinking red light (only one in the county, enjoy!). Turn left and continue on Hwy 89 for 7 miles, to the intersection with Hwy 12. Turn left/east on Hwy 12 ** See Hwy 12 description at asterisks* below.
Through Zion: This is the slowest but prettiest route to Escalante. Continue north from St George on I-15 towards Salt Lake City to the Hurricane/Quail Lake/Zion exit, which takes just a few minutes. Exit here and continue on SR 9 to Hurricane (9 miles). In the middle of town on the left is Maverick gas, definitely top off. If you are hungry there is an “Alberto’s” Mexican food just before the Maverick on the left. This is another west coast favorite, quick and delicious. Follow SR9 through town, after it turns sharply north watch for the beautiful bridge you cross, high over the Virgin River. Continue north on SR 9 to La Verkin. SR 9 turns right at the stoplight, follow the signs to Zion/Springdale. Once in Zion consider hiking the Narrows, Emerald Pools or Tunnel Hike. Favorite places to eat are the Whiptail Grill for lunch, Bit and Spur for dinner, coffee and bagel sandwiches at the Mean Bean. Oscar’s is cool too.
If you are staying the night, the Desert Pearl is worth every penny, or maybe look into the Driftwood as well. Both are in a great location. Continue on through the park ($25 entrance fee) and enjoy the views. Just after the tunnel there is a pullout that gives you a look down into Pine creek slot. A bit further watch for the Checkerboard Mesa pullout, it’s definitely worth it. You leave Zion Park not long after Checkerboard Mesa, continue east to the intersection of SR9 and Hwy 89. Take a left (north) on Hwy 89 and start the drive up Long Valley. The scenery really starts changing and the air begins to cool as you climb to the intersection with Hwy 12, about 45 miles. Turn right/east on Hwy 12. **See Hwy 12 description below.
This is one of the most beautiful stretches of road in North America, so take your time. Driving east on Hwy 12 you first pass through Red Canyon, which is absolutely stunning. The pink and red hoodoo’s are outstanding, so plan to take a few photos and maybe stretch the legs a bit. After Red Canyon you will come to Bryce next. If you are looking for more hoodoo’s and wild pink formations then take the time to go into the Park and have a look around. Fairyland Loop and Wall Street are popular hikes, check with the visitor’s center for other ideas in the Park. Most guests have seen all of Bryce they want after a half or full day there, you generally don’t want to book too much time in Bryce, it’s crowded with the busy “feel” caused by busses and tourists. Lately people have been staying in Escalante then driving over to Bryce for the day. Once back on Hwy 12 continue east to Escalante, which is now only 46 miles away! You will pass through the sleepy villages of Tropic, Cannonville and Henrieville before arriving in Escalante, go slow and watch for deer on the road. People hit them pretty regularly, especially at night or around dusk. One more cautionary note, restaurants close early in town so you don’t want to arrive too late. By 9pm it can be hard to find a meal. Sunday’s are also a culinary challenge in Utah, many businesses are closed. No big deal just something to consider.
Congratulations, you have made it! Our office is on the corner of Main St and 100 East, in a white and yellow building with a white picket fence. Excursions of Escalante, you can’t miss us. Visit our website for accommodation ideas in town. We’ll have dining suggestions when you get here!
Some hikes on your own:
Half /Full Day: Calf Creek Upper and or Lower falls combined with a drive on the Burr Trail for a day.
Full Day: Devils Garden, Spooky and Peekaboo slot canyons and the dinosaur tracks also make for a really a great day 1 day self tour. The Escalante Visitor Center has more information and maps available for these and other hikes.
Visitor Center Phone: 435-826 5499.