GSENM Camping Question

swmalone

Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2016
Messages
474
My wife and I are planning to head down to GSENM between March 6-8, 2019. Since this will be our first time in the area and it is such a short trip I have been contemplating just reserving a campsite in Esclanate Petrified Forest State Park to limit the time required to find a dispersed campsite. I would prefer dispersed camping so I figured I would come to the experts seeking advice.

1. Since that time frame is spring break for several schools how crowded should I expect it to be in the area, including dispersed campsites?

2. Is it relatively easy to locate acceptable dispersed campsites along Hole-In-The-Rock Road?

As it stands right now we plan to drive down the 6th most likely arriving in the early afternoon. I had planned to hike Lower Calf Creek and then find and set up a campsite. On the 7th we wanted to do the Peak-a-Boo / Spooky gulch loop and explore other areas along HITR road. On the 8th I still haven't decided what we would do prior to heading home. We may visit some of the state parks or look for some shorter canyons/gulches to explore. I have ordered Canyoneering 3 to help with trip planning, but I am always open to suggestions.

Thanks in advance.
 

Nick

-
.
Joined
Aug 9, 2007
Messages
12,938
That's still pretty early in the season down there, especially at the higher elevations right around Escalante. The shaded bends of the upper Escalante will likely still be covered in ice and snow, even if it's pretty nice out. I would absolutely plan on primitive camping if that's what you prefer. You shouldn't have to work too hard to find a spot. I recommend using satellite imagery to identify a bunch of potential spots and then once you're out there you're not just exploring blindly.
 

swmalone

Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2016
Messages
474
That's still pretty early in the season down there, especially at the higher elevations right around Escalante. The shaded bends of the upper Escalante will likely still be covered in ice and snow, even if it's pretty nice out. I would absolutely plan on primitive camping if that's what you prefer. You shouldn't have to work too hard to find a spot. I recommend using satellite imagery to identify a bunch of potential spots and then once you're out there you're not just exploring blindly.

Thanks for the info. Any preferred satellite imagery that you use, or just google earth?
 

Nick

-
.
Joined
Aug 9, 2007
Messages
12,938
Thanks for the info. Any preferred satellite imagery that you use, or just google earth?


I usually just make a google map and use the sat layer to find sites before I head out for a trip. You can pull that up in a number of places like CalTopo or Gaia. From there I export the KML/GPX and upload into my Gaia account so that it's all on my phone.
 

canadug

Member
Joined
Nov 26, 2015
Messages
79
Many easy to find spots along Hole In Rock Road. The state park you mentioned is nice as it has showers. We have been in the area the last 5 years around that time and it does cool down at night but warm sleeping bag remedies that.

Stop in at the ranger station in Escalante. They have tons of good info.......Of course that is if there is still not a govt shutdown still happening.

Have fun
 

swmalone

Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2016
Messages
474
Many easy to find spots along Hole In Rock Road. The state park you mentioned is nice as it has showers. We have been in the area the last 5 years around that time and it does cool down at night but warm sleeping bag remedies that.

Stop in at the ranger station in Escalante. They have tons of good info.......Of course that is if there is still not a govt shutdown still happening.

Have fun


Well it is open for the next few weeks anyway, hopefully it wont' be shut down again. Just curious as to your thoughts about camping in the area if the govt is shut down and I can't get a permit.
 

Nick

-
.
Joined
Aug 9, 2007
Messages
12,938
Permits are self-issue at most trailheads. Just grab one somewhere along your way and you're good to go. No shutdown worries there other than not going in the visitor center.
 

Kmatjhwy

Wilderness Wanderer
Joined
Sep 23, 2016
Messages
637
Many good replies already. Now there is a BLM campground in Lower Calf Creek that is decent but it charges $10 a night. Like others have said, this is early in the season and I don't expect you to have much problems with people. There are all kinds of dispersed camping sites all over the area if one looks. There are some dispersed camping sites that I know of down the Harris Wash road, not far from Spooky Gulch also. Have hiked a bunch in and out of Harris Wash thru the years. Have a Great Time!
 

LarryBoy

Hiker Trash
.
Joined
Jan 4, 2015
Messages
2,680
Some really cool stuff off the beaten path on Wolverine Loop road or in the Moody Canyons area. Just keep driving until you find somewhere you like!
 

swmalone

Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2016
Messages
474
Many good replies already. Now there is a BLM campground in Lower Calf Creek that is decent but it charges $10 a night. Like others have said, this is early in the season and I don't expect you to have much problems with people. There are all kinds of dispersed camping sites all over the area if one looks. There are some dispersed camping sites that I know of down the Harris Wash road, not far from Spooky Gulch also. Have hiked a bunch in and out of Harris Wash thru the years. Have a Great Time!

Thanks for the info. I have identified a few potential campsites off HITRR that are not too far from spooky that we plan to use as a base camp. Also nice to know the permits won't be an issue even if the government shuts down again.

I was showing my wife the hikes planned and she is getting excited, but also a little anxious with some of the slots. I will be sure to write up a trip report to let everyone know how it went. I'm hoping her anxiety doesn't get the best of her.
 

JulieKT

Member
Joined
Sep 7, 2014
Messages
145
I was showing my wife the hikes planned and she is getting excited, but also a little anxious with some of the slots. I will be sure to write up a trip report to let everyone know how it went. I'm hoping her anxiety doesn't get the best of her.
What is her specific anxiety re: the slots? If it's claustrophobia, the lower (south) end of Spooky gets super tight and twisty. But it's easy enough to go up till that point, then turn back if it gets to be too much. Same if entering via the top (north) end, which is actually what I usually recommend due to a fairly good drop along the way that can be harder for people to navigate if they're trying to go up.

And yes, still could be very chilly and wintry at that time, especially with the good winter we're having this year. It might even make the slots a moot point, with water, ice, or even snow still in them. Or, after the big snowstorms coming this week, everything might warm right up and melt off all the snow. Never know. There is still lots to explore that can be accessible right from the highway if dirt road conditions are too challenging. Agree that checking in with the rangers at the interagency center is a great idea. They'll have good suggestions for you. Oh, and another option is to head down the Burr Trail as far as you can (it's paved a fair ways), pulling over to explore at whatever catches your fancy.
 

3d3vart

Member
Joined
May 2, 2018
Messages
130
Just remember that all car camping anywhere inside the Monument requires a free camping permit, available at the visitor's center for car camping or self-issued at most official trailheads for backcountry camping.
 

swmalone

Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2016
Messages
474
What is her specific anxiety re: the slots? If it's claustrophobia, the lower (south) end of Spooky gets super tight and twisty. But it's easy enough to go up till that point, then turn back if it gets to be too much. Same if entering via the top (north) end, which is actually what I usually recommend due to a fairly good drop along the way that can be harder for people to navigate if they're trying to go up.

And yes, still could be very chilly and wintry at that time, especially with the good winter we're having this year. It might even make the slots a moot point, with water, ice, or even snow still in them. Or, after the big snowstorms coming this week, everything might warm right up and melt off all the snow. Never know. There is still lots to explore that can be accessible right from the highway if dirt road conditions are too challenging. Agree that checking in with the rangers at the interagency center is a great idea. They'll have good suggestions for you. Oh, and another option is to head down the Burr Trail as far as you can (it's paved a fair ways), pulling over to explore at whatever catches your fancy.

I called the rangers last week and they thought we should be able to explore Spooky and Peak-a-Boo, but said zebra and tunnel would most likely have very cold water. They recommended looking into Bighorn Canyon. My wife's main anxiety is just not knowing how she will handle the tight slots, she isn't sure if she is claustrophobic. We have done some fairly narrow (10-12") canyons, but that narrowness usually only lasted for a few feet. She was able to handle that okay. We figured we would just give things a shot and if either of us get uncomfortable just turn around.
 

regehr

Member
Joined
Mar 28, 2012
Messages
1,734
I was in Zebra in late Jan and despite all the snow elsewhere, the narrows were bone dry. Also quite short and not that constricting, I would think this canyon is just fine for almost everyone. Bighorn is great and you should go there.
 

JulieKT

Member
Joined
Sep 7, 2014
Messages
145
I called the rangers last week and they thought we should be able to explore Spooky and Peak-a-Boo, but said zebra and tunnel would most likely have very cold water. They recommended looking into Bighorn Canyon. My wife's main anxiety is just not knowing how she will handle the tight slots, she isn't sure if she is claustrophobic. We have done some fairly narrow (10-12") canyons, but that narrowness usually only lasted for a few feet. She was able to handle that okay. We figured we would just give things a shot and if either of us get uncomfortable just turn around.
Parts of Spooky are the same, literally about a foot wide, or less. Have to turn sideways and slither through. If she's handled that before, she probably should be fine. It does last longer than just a few feet, but not forever. Whatever you guys end up doing, have a wonderful time!
 

swmalone

Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2016
Messages
474
I was in Zebra in late Jan and despite all the snow elsewhere, the narrows were bone dry. Also quite short and not that constricting, I would think this canyon is just fine for almost everyone. Bighorn is great and you should go there.

A question about bighorn. In Canyoneering 3 there is a loop described starting on Old Sheffield road, I’m just wondering if that is the best route or if exploring from the Hole In The Rock Road side would be good. We are only going to be down there 2 nights so I was trying to stick to things along HITRR.
 

regehr

Member
Joined
Mar 28, 2012
Messages
1,734
Re. bighorn: we tried to head to that area in Jan via the Old Sheffield road and were turned around by an easy hill that we could not climb in the snow (in a 4runner). It was fun to give it a few tries but it was drifted in right at the steepest part and no dice. HIRR was plowed, so that worked out better. Not sure what it's like there right now.
I've only been in Bighorn once, and this was from HIRR. I think the obvious thing is to park where HIRR crosses Harris Wash, but we instead parked a bit farther south and walked cross-country to where Bighorn meets Harris. I don't remember why, but this worked fine.
 

regehr

Member
Joined
Mar 28, 2012
Messages
1,734
Bighorn is nice and you'll likely have it to yourselves. It's easy to spend a whole day exploring various forks, walking cross-country a bit, etc.
 
Similar threads
Thread starter Title Forum Replies Date
fossana Yellow Rock, Pollock Arch, Hackberry Canyon loop (GSENM) Hiking & Camping 8
swmalone GSENM Take II Canyoneering 8
piper01 Little Death Hollow, GSENM Hiking & Camping 3
piper01 The Upper Gulch and Egg Canyon, GSENM Backpacking 6
piper01 GSENM: Burr Trail hikes Trip Planning 28
J Dayhikes GSENM, Cap Reef, Behind the Rocks: Deer Cr, Tanks, Sheets Gulch, Moab Rim Apr. 4 to 8, 2018 Hiking & Camping 0
J In Grand Staircase (GSENM), Paria-Hackberry 10 Days backpacking April 23-May 2, 2017 Part 1 Backpacking 0
Bob Wire BLM destroying The Gulch in GSENM Hiking & Camping 1
powderglut 2 Week Trip Paria/Vermilion, GSENM and Maybe Hanksville Trip Planning 4
LavranJ GSENM early in the year Trip Planning 10
WasatchWill Seeking a little help for Fall Break with family in GSENM Trip Planning 4
piper01 Southern UT in April: Cedar Mesa, Capitol Reef, GSENM Trip Planning 6
A Visiting GSENM - need advice on itinerary Trip Planning 18
slc_dan Two Peaks & a Bellybutton GSENM April 2014 Hiking & Camping 9
piper01 GSENM trip itinerary Trip Planning 9
slc_dan Little Death Hollow-Wolverine Loop, GSENM June 5-8 2013 Backpacking 16
Udink GSENM Hiking & Camping 10
Christian Bryce, GSENM and Capitol Reef Hiking & Camping 17
Seldom Seen Anderson Lower Hackberry (GSENM) Trip Planning 3
dhertbag Camping at Cottonwood Cove - Coyote Buttes South Trip Planning 11
norwegianxplorer Backpacking SAREK NATIONAL PARK, Arctic Sweden, Camping Above RAPADALEN delta. Backpacking 7
Rockskipper Car Camping Tent Suggestions Gear 37
norwegianxplorer Winter storms, camping in Norway Trip Reports 0
Dreamer Sublette County backroads fly fishing and truck camping On The Water 7
G Dispersed camping near Zion? Trip Planning 5
IlVagabondo Yellowstone Camping Question General Discussion 13
swmalone Camping suggestions for Escalante in May Trip Planning 2
TeamJenkins17 Wyoming winter camping Trip Planning 4
TrektheWorld Family Camping Vehicle & Camper with bikes and an HOA Gear 13
swmalone Yellowstone Camping Trip - August 18-20, 2020 Hiking & Camping 21
kwc Northern Adirondack car camping On The Water 0
Happyidiot Looking for camping spot close to Denver. General Discussion 2
kwc Wiliam C. Whitney Wilderness canoe camping (Adirondacks) On The Water 10
A Virginia/Delaware Camping Trip Planning 4
Miya Snow Camping = Frozen Face? Resource Discussions 18
Outdoors24 Your car camping cooking setup General Discussion 39
Titans Permits car camping Grand Staircase Escalante NM? Trip Planning 6
S Backcountry camping tips for Wind Rivers - upper Green River valley via canoe Trip Planning 5
Stephanie B Camping/Off-Roading Gear for Sale Gear 0
balzaccom Car camping the Navajo Rez and Mojave Hiking & Camping 6
Mikjik86 Video Hiking/Camping San Rafael Swell/Goblin Valley/Horseshoe Canyon - Feb 2019 Hiking & Camping 2
JBPHXAZ Needles District Car Camping Suggestions Trip Planning 3
Mikjik86 Good car camping? Stuff to do near Goblin Valley area Feb 24,25,26? Trip Planning 15
C Camping at Beaver Falls, Havasupai Trip Planning 1
NorthwestWanderer A Year Camping in the PNW Photography 3
TrektheWorld Need help with Uintas trip - camping Trip Planning 8
F Quick Lake Blanche (Utah) camping Q? Trip Planning 9
powderglut Camping By the Henry Mts, Slots, and Cedar Mesa Ruins Hiking & Camping 9
P Any Quiet Camping Suggestions? Trip Planning 2
Vegan.Hiker Car Camping Window Screens Gear 11

Similar threads

Don't like ads? Become a BCP Supporting Member and kiss them all goodbye. Click here for more info.

Top