day trip spotlight grand staircase escalante national monument

Day Trip Spotlight: Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

by | Jul 10, 2023

When most people think about outdoor destinations in Southern Utah, they think of popular national parks like Zion or Arches. But there’s a hidden gem just a short distance from our Torrey Utah hotel that offers equally stunning views.

When it comes to breathtaking natural beauty and rugged wilderness, few places can match the grandeur of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Located in Southern Utah, just an hour from Chuckwagon Lodge, this park is filled with incredible landscapes, towering cliffs, ancient rock formations, challenging hiking trails, and more. 

If you’re looking for another great day trip to enjoy during your stay in our Torrey Utah hotel, keep reading. We’re breaking down everything you need to know to visit Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Getting There

Getting to Grand Staircase-Escalante from our Torrey Utah hotel is quick and easy. After leaving Chuckwagon Lodge, you’ll take UT-12 W just outside Torrey. Travel on this road for just under 40 miles, and you’ll arrive at the entrance to the national monument. The drive takes just under an hour and is filled with its own great views of the amazing landscapes that this region is known for.

While this is a national monument, there is no entrance fee to visit Grand Staircase-Escalante. You won’t need to show your national park annual pass, make a reservation, or reserve a ticket in advance. This makes the park a great last-minute day trip during your stay in our Torrey Utah hotel.

What to See and Do in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Spanning over 1.9 million acres, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is a true haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Much of the park is rugged wilderness with limited road access. This, coupled with the national monument’s large size, makes it impossible to see the whole thing, even if you were visiting for several weeks. On a day trip, you’ll want to hit some of the highlights.

Exploring Grand Staircase-Escalante’s Three Districts

Grand Staircase-Escalante is divided into three distinct regions; the Grand Staircase, the Kaiparowits Plateau, and the Escalante Canyons. Each area has its own distinct geological features and activities to enjoy.

The most popular and iconic region to visit is Grand Staircase. This area is home to a series of colorful cliffs and plateaus that the park is named for. Here, you can view multiple layers of rocks that formed over millions of years, allowing you to literally look back on the history of Southern Utah. 

If you’re looking for a little adventure, you may also want to visit the Escalante Canyons district during your day trip from our Torrey Utah hotel. This area is known for its stunning slot canyons, narrow passageways with towering sandstone walls on either side. One of the most famous slot canyons in this district is called Peek-a-Boo. This and other slot canyons in the area aren’t for the faint-hearted. You’ll need to squeeze through some tight spots and navigate winding corridors to make your way through.

The Kaiparowits Plateau is the most remote district of the national monument, and the most difficult to get to. You’ll need a high-clearance four-wheel drive vehicle to explore this remote area. Even then, doing so can be difficult and dangerous. If you have your heart set on visiting this area of the park, it’s best to do so with an experienced guide.

Hiking in Grand Staircase-Escalante

One of the best ways to explore Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument during your stay in our Torrey Utah hotel is by hiking. The national monument is home to a number of incredible trails. From leisurely strolls to challenging treks, there is a trail for every skill level. 

One popular route is the Lower Calf Creek Falls Trail, which leads hikers through a scenic desert oasis to a stunning 126-foot waterfall. The reward at the end of the hike is well worth the effort, as the cool mist from the falls provides a refreshing respite from the desert heat. This trail is just under seven miles roundtrip, and is rated “moderate.”

If you’re looking for a shorter hike, Upper Calf Creek Falls is a great alternative. This trail is just 2.1 miles roundtrip, with around 600 feet of elevation gain. You’ll still end your hike at a beautiful waterfall surrounded by an incredible desert oasis. 

Planning a Day Trip From our Torrey Utah Hotel

Many visitors to Chuckwagon Lodge are looking forward to exploring Capitol Reef National Park during their stay. But there are tons of day trips you can enjoy from our Torrey Utah hotel, too.

From Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to other national parks like Arches, our Southern Utah resort is perfectly situated to explore all of the outdoor destinations that the region has to offer.

If you’re ready to start planning your itinerary for your Chuckwagon Lodge stay, click here to learn about four other day trips to enjoy during your visit.

The Chuckwagon Blog

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