This monument was created by President Bill Clinton in 1996 with the authority provided by the Antiquities Act of 1906. Some Utahns had reservations about Clinton doing this, but today, almost 20 years later, the area around Escalante (or “Escalanty” as the locals say) seemed to be bustling with tourists, farmers, and world class restaurants.
Unfortunately, my travel notebook was recently stolen out of my Jeep so I’m going to attempt to recall the details from memory. The visitor center for the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is very impressive. You can spend several hours there learning about the ecology and history of the region.
After visiting the entrance, we headed to our campsite at the Petrified Forest State Park which is right next to Wide Hollow State Reservoir. The weather was great and the swimming was fantastic in the reservoir. The state park is interesting but small. There is beautiful hiking trail where you can explore many specimen of petrified wood. It’s easy to moderate as there is some elevation gain.
In Grand Staircase-Escalante NM we did the Lower Calf Creek Falls trail. It’s a very easy trail, but I would suggest starting early as there is little shade during most of the hike and during the day would be extremely hot. The falls were beautiful and it was fun watching people jump in the pool only to rush out because of the frigid temperatures. I suppose one benefit to going to the falls on a hot day would be to swim in this desert oasis.
Some of the highlights of this trip were driving along Scenic Route 12 between Boulder and the town of Escalante. We often went into Boulder to eat at Hell’s Backbone Grill which has an amazing menu. It’s a mixture of home-style and Mexican cuisine and I honestly can’t describe in adequate detail how good this food actually is. This restaurant really should be in some large metropolis but is instead nestled in a tiny town surrounded by beautiful National Monument land. If you happen to find yourself in the area — you must stop for a meal.
Also in Boulder, the Burr Trail Grill is also very tasty — great burgers and pies. Epic Brewing beer was served throughout Boulder amazingly. The Kiva coffeehouse on the way to Boulder from Escalante is the place to grab some breakfast and a cup of joe.
My next steps: convince Sonya that we need to buy some farmland outside of Boulder, UT!