Upper Escalante River


Feb 23, 2012
This trip has been a long time coming. I had wanted to start backpacking for a couple of years and have been slowly buying gear. My first backpacking trip was a short trip to Cliff Lake last fall. This trip would be my second.

I started planning this trip as a trip to the Escalante area for my oldest boy, Dylan and me. Then almost at the last minute my wife decided to tag along and bring my youngest boy, Bryant. I quickly purchased a backpack, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and extra tent. (I’ll post a gear review later.)

I wanted to leave home on Friday May 4th around 10:00 am but due to other family commitments we didn’t leave Ogden until 3:30 pm. The late departure made for a late arrival at the Hole-in-the-rock rock road turn off from highway 12.

We started down the Hole-in-the-rock road about 11:00 pm looking for a place to camp for the night. When you’re driving a Honda Civic that is one rough road. Finally, about 7 miles in we found a place to camp for the night. I got to bed sometime after midnight, way late for me.

My original Plan for this trip was to drive to Willow Gulch and camp at Broken Bow Arch on the advice of Summit. However when we got up on Saturday morning and I started thinking at the rate we could drive down Hole-in-the-rock road it would take at least 2 more hours to reach the trail head and possibly 3 hours to drive out on Sunday. Time for plan B.

We drove into Escalante and got a permit for the Upper Escalante River from the visitor center and proceeded to the trail head.
Our camp site for Friday night along Hole-in-the-rock road.

The crew at the Escalante Town trailhead.

We packed in about a mile and a half and setup camp for the day.

After camp was setup the kids played in the water for a while.

The we walked down river for a while to take in the beauty of this place.



By the time we made it back to camp we were running short on water, time to pump! I filled all of our water containers full except for my MSR 6L bladder and started to disassemble my pump and put it away. While pulling the intake tube off of the pump body the fitting broke. This is only the second time I have used this pump.:stomp: So I started thinking, by the time we cook dinner, have water to drink, and fix breakfast the next morning we didn't have enough water. At this point I was glad we had not gone to Willow Gulch. We would have been packing up camp and heading out.

We decided we would hike back to the car and go to the visitor center in Escalante to get some water. Jenny in her ultimate wisdom said, "as long as we are going to Escalante we may as well get pizza for dinner." OK! After getting water we went to the Escalante Outfitter and had one of the best pizzas I have ever eaten. :) After dinner we hiked back to camp just in time for sunset.



After the sunset we sat in one tent and played card games for several hours. It is not very often in this busy time that you can sit with your kids and talk and play games without interruption. I look forward to more of these moments. On Sunday morning we quickly packed up camp and hiked back to the car for the return trip home.

This was Jenny's first backpacking trip and I think she had a good time. I don't think she enjoys tent camping very much but she goes along for her boys. I'm thankful for that and I hope it grows on her.

A few lessons to learn from this trip.
  1. Don't pack so much in your backpack. Buy a smaller one.
  2. Have a backup water purification method.
  3. Buy a backpack that fits (adjust).
  4. Don't take 4 people camping in a Honda Civic. (get a truck)
I'm just learning to use Adobe Lightroom 4 Develop module so any tips would be helpful.

Featured image for slideshow:


Aug 9, 2007
Very nice. Willow is awesome but it really is way down the road. Always tough for me to justify that drive without having more than one night to spend down there. Mad props on actually going back to your campsite. I think a lot of people would have just packed it up at that point. How far down did you end up going? Did you get to the big alcove with the pictographs?


Feb 23, 2012
Very nice. Willow is awesome but it really is way down the road. Always tough for me to justify that drive without having more than one night to spend down there. Mad props on actually going back to your campsite. I think a lot of people would have just packed it up at that point. How far down did you end up going? Did you get to the big alcove with the pictographs?
We didn't make to the alcove with the pictographs. I really want to go back when I have more time and a little more experience. I have a lot to learn about backpacking, just need to get out there.
I want to do a trip in September from the Escalante Town trailhead to the Highway 12 trailhead.


Broadcaster, formerly "ashergrey"
May 5, 2012
Nice report. You're daring to take a sedan down Hole-in-the-Rock. Depending on when it was last graded, that can be a rough ride.


ephemeral excursionist
Jan 17, 2012
Oh come on!!! Get creative with the car. My mom packed 4 of us in a Toyota Trecel hatch back. Car seat included that is one adult and three kids. :giggle:Or just fess up to the fact the you want a truck!

Love the report!!! Especially that last picture. This inspires me to want to backpack more. Have two trips planned this summer hope to get a third one in somewhere.
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