Tucked away down a bumpy dirt road in Southern Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, the Devil’s Garden should be renamed something like “hoodoo playground” or “fun among the rocks.” Except for summer’s searing heat, there’s nothing evil about this wonderland of Navajo and Entrada sandstone refashioned by erosion into arches and hoodoos.
On a Grand Staircase-Escalante road trip, Alan and I explore Devil’s Garden for a few fun hours on a spring afternoon. Hole in the Rock Road, the beginning of our journey is located off Highway 12 about five miles east of Escalante. Thirteen miles of washboard later, we turn off to the right for the 1.5-mile drive to Devil’s Garden Recreation Area parking lot.
Hole in the Rock Road is wide so save your vehicle’s suspension by going slow. There’s plenty of room to move over for faster drivers.
Weaving our way past the picnic area—yes, they have barbecue grills, too—and a set of pit toilets; Alan and I follow the interconnected footpaths created by other travelers. While there are no marked trails through this stone playground, after a slight uphill walk at the beginning, the exploring is easy.
The guidebook we brought along, Falcon Guide’s Hiking Grand Staircase-Escalante & Glen Canyon Region, recommends allotting 30 minutes to an hour to explore Metate Arch, Mano Arch and a variety of hoodoos dating back to the early Jurassic period—that’s about 170 million years ago during the time the dinosaurs roamed this part of Utah.
Photographers will enjoy spending more time here, as there are plenty of interesting formations to photograph. Alan makes a note to plan our next visit to coincide with sunrise or sunset for better lighting.
On the way to Devil’s Garden, we pass by the unofficial trail to Zebra and Tunnel slot canyons. A local had told us about them at breakfast. There’s no time for hiking to the relatively easy slot canyons on this trip. But we’ve added them to our list for next time, along with viewing dinosaur tracks at the Twentymile Wash Megatrackway and Peek-a-boo and Spooky gulches, which are also located off Hole in the Rock Road. And we could keep on driving for about 34 miles beyond Devil’s Garden to reach the end of the road at Hole in the Rock at Lake Powell. But that would be one very long, bumpy ride.
While in Escalante, don’t miss the hike to Lower Calf Creek Falls!
Although we don’t have any lodging to recommend, next time, Alan and I will use Boulder, Utah, as our base. Here are some Boulder lodging options.
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