Southern Utah mid-March with kids

SEAlpine

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Feb 4, 2014
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41
Hi--

My family (wife, 6 and 4 year olds) are flying into Vegas March 15 from AK for a 6 night mini-tour of Southern Utah. We are interested in learning some canyoneering skills, exploring slot canyons, day hikes, maybe a backpack trip, etc. My kids are pretty active hikers and love to camp. My main concern is that the weather in mid-March may not be conducive to camping.

My initial plan was to make a backpack trip in Coyota Gulch our main focus. But the potential for cold weather made me rethink my plans. What do you guys think of the below itinerary? Any suggestions? Should I focus on another area that has warmer weather? Will a 4-wheel drive vehicle be neccessary?

Day 1. Arrive in Vegas 9 am. Drive to Coral Pink Sand Dunes. Camp there or on nearby BLM land.
Day 2. Go on guided 1/2 day canyoneering trip with Seldom Seem Adventures somewhere near Kanab. Drive to Kodachrome Basin State Park. Stay at cabins or camp.
Days 3 and 4. Willis Creek, Bull Valley Gorge, Bryce, and/or Kodachrome Basin State Park. Afternoon of Day 4 either camp at Kodachrome or drive to Escalante and camp/stay at cabin.
Day 5 and 6. Escalante. Hole in Rock Rd and or Burr Trail Rd.
Day 7. Drive back to Vegas for 5pm flight.
 

Melissa

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Mar 14, 2012
Messages
45
Sounds fun, hope you guys have a great trip!

I can only comment on the Escalante portion of your plan. March is a fantastic time to visit that area, and average March daytime highs are in the 40s and 50s. Nighttime lows can get down into the 20s. Check the weather forecast before you head out and make a fallback plan for a motel if it's just too cold.

I always advise a 4WD vehicle for the Hole in the Rock Road, but I prefer to err on the side of caution. You might not need it, but conditions can be wet in early spring. You'll want to make sure to check road conditions before committing. Check in at the Interagency Visitor Center in Escalante for current conditions. Depending on weather, that road can become impassable or 4WD only if it's wet.

You mentioned wanting to introduce the family to slot canyons. In my opinion, there is no finer introduction to slots than Peekabo and Spooky slots in the dry fork of Coyote Gulch. The bottom entrance of Peekabo can become impassable due to water in the pothole, and it is sometimes necessary to go around and drop in from the top or there's a place somewhere in the middle you can drop in at. These are not places you want to go if there's any chance of rain, so check in at the visitor center first. If conditions are good to do these, this would be a good option if you don't wind up doing an overnight in Coyote Gulch.

Willow Gulch would be another great choice for a dayhike hike off the Hole in the Rock Road, especially if conditions aren't favorable for the slots.
 
Last edited:

Nick

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Aug 9, 2007
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What Melissa says! I would just caution not to try to pack too much in. Like trying to sneak in the Burr Trail with all the other stuff could be a bit much with lots of driving in between, but if you end up with the time, why not? Personally, I'd probably settle on sticking with one or two areas and exploring more of them.

If weather is good, you'll probably have warmer temps than 40s and 50s down Hole in the Rock in March. The road loses a lot of elevation from the town of Escalante as it heads south and the weather tends to get much warmer the further you go. If I'm going way down towards Coyote, I usually look at the forecast for Bullfrog as a better indicator (3700' vs. 5800' in Escalante) .But again, March is highly unpredictable. It could snow or it could feel like mid-May. I backpacked Llewellyn and Cottonwood at the end of the road last year in early March and weather was fantastic. I'm headed down to that general direction this weekend and the forecast is calling for low 60's for highs. :cool:
 

pixie1339

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Jan 21, 2012
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Sounds fun! You and your kids will love it. The Panorama Loop at Kodachrome Basin is the best bang for your buck hike that park has to offer. There are multiple signed spur trails to neat features. I recommend you do them all, especially Cool Cave. That should be about a 5 mile hike. Don't do this hike in wet weather though. The soil in that area turns into clay when wet and clumps all over your shoes. I learned that one the hard way. It felt like I was packing an extra couple pounds on each foot.
 

SEAlpine

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Feb 4, 2014
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Thanks for the replies. We have changed our plan up a bit since I posted my first message. I was prety concerned about the weather and constantly packing/unpacking from moving around too much. I booked a 4wd rental in Vegas. Booked a VRBO in Escalante for 5 nights (invited my parents to join us here from Colorado) and a booked a hotel in Kanab for our last night. Now we'll have 4 full days to explore the Escalante area and then on our last full day we'll meet up with Seldom Seen Adventures for a guided family trip down Huntress Slot. We will have my parents in tow now which will make things interesting. They are 63 and not avid hikers but they are willing to hang out with our kids and join us on some light hikes. They also wouldn't mind some down days where they go look for antiques, etc.

In the Escalante area we were thinking of hitting Peekaboo/Spooky, Upper Calf Creek (did Lower Calf Creek several years ago), checking out the end of Hole in the Rock Road?, and doing Upper Muly Twist (just the wife and I while we leave the kids w/ my parents). Also thought some easy things with my parents would be Bryce, Kodachrome, or Willis Creek.

Any thoughts on easy family (young and old) hikes in the Escalante area would be much appreciated!
 

uintahiker

Adventure Guru
Joined
Jan 20, 2012
Messages
719
Check out my blog and the accompanying map. Each pin on the map links to a blogpost from when visited that spot. I've done everything on it with kids younger than yours. Fortunately/unfortunately though, it's far from comprehensive. There's way to much to see or do it all!

I will say that the Peekaboo area off of the 40 mile road has lots of fun stuff.
Willis Creek is really easy and fun.
Buckskin Gulch might be worth looking into a day hike of as well if you've got a hotel room in Kanab.
 
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Melissa

Member
Joined
Mar 14, 2012
Messages
45
Thanks for the replies. We have changed our plan up a bit since I posted my first message. I was prety concerned about the weather and constantly packing/unpacking from moving around too much. I booked a 4wd rental in Vegas. Booked a VRBO in Escalante for 5 nights (invited my parents to join us here from Colorado) and a booked a hotel in Kanab for our last night. Now we'll have 4 full days to explore the Escalante area and then on our last full day we'll meet up with Seldom Seen Adventures for a guided family trip down Huntress Slot. We will have my parents in tow now which will make things interesting. They are 63 and not avid hikers but they are willing to hang out with our kids and join us on some light hikes. They also wouldn't mind some down days where they go look for antiques, etc.

In the Escalante area we were thinking of hitting Peekaboo/Spooky, Upper Calf Creek (did Lower Calf Creek several years ago), checking out the end of Hole in the Rock Road?, and doing Upper Muly Twist (just the wife and I while we leave the kids w/ my parents). Also thought some easy things with my parents would be Bryce, Kodachrome, or Willis Creek.

Any thoughts on easy family (young and old) hikes in the Escalante area would be much appreciated!

Your revised plan sounds great, and much less like you will all be running around like crazy trying to squeeze everything in. Other easy things to do with kids/parents include: a walk around the Devil's Garden area off Hole in the Rock Road, a visit to Petrified Forest State Park, a drive down the scenic Burr Trail. You could also drop the parents off to hang out someplace like Kiva Koffeehouse while you do Upper Calf Creek. They have decent food and wifi. If you're feeling flush, the Hell's Backbone Grill is delicious.
 
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