Fall Break in Escalante

This last October during the kids' fall break from school, I took the opportunity to take my family down to spend a night in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. Features of this trip included a first time visit to Upper Calf Creek, Devil's Garden, Batty Pass Caves, a dinosaur track site, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, and Anasazi State Park.

- Day 1 -
Thursday - October 15, 2015

For this family trip we were down one child. Our daughter Raylee had injured her arm earlier in the week and chose to stay back with her Grandma and Grandpa in Torrey.  The rest of our clan jumped in the car and set off down the road for Escalante.  Our first stop of the day was to check out Upper Calf Creek.  We'd done Lower Calf Creek a few times in the past but hadn't yet seen Upper Calf Creek.

Once at the trailhead we lathered up in sunscreen and made our way down.  When we got to the point where the trail meets the creek, my family opted to take an extended rest while I investigated the lower falls.

Poison Ivy was plentiful along the side of the pathway leading to the falls.

Just past the patch of poison ivy were the lower of the "Upper" falls.

After a moment of taking that in, I returned to my family and together we progressed onward to the upper falls.

I could not resist taking a dip.  For some reason, nobody else wanted to join me.

I jumped out and we returned back to the pool with some shallow edges a bit further down for the kids to splash around in.

We tried out what looked like a great little water slide but it didn't work so well.  Perhaps the algae would have been more slick for a slide down.

Along the way back we met the acquaintance of "Cairn Man", or so I named it.  It wasn't there on the way in.  I saw a couple who were on their way back up the trail as we were going down it that had stopped and one of them appeared to be gathering some rocks so I can only assume it was them who built it.

We arrived back at the car and drove on down the road to pay a visit to the GSENM Visitor Center where were had lunch, listened to a brief presentation on the archeological and geological history of the area, and registered for overnight camping.

After the visitor center we drove on down to an area called Devil's Garden.  It proved to be a perfect little place for the kids to be able to run around bit and get some exploration in.

After our fun with Devils Garden, we got back in the car and headed on down the road to find a suitable campsite.  I had a spot picked out on a map that were first priority for us, but I was confident they'd be taken.  In fact, with it being Fall Break, it was supposed to be one of the busier weekends down there and I was worried we might not be able to find something nice and secluded and still accessible to our mini-van.

I suppose luck was on our side because when we drove in to the spot I had in mind, there was only one other couple camping in the area and their site was actually just out of sight from the site we had chosen and just far enough to not worry about our kids being too noisy for their peace.

The kids enjoyed wandering around the camp and wandering around on the slickrock  that surrounded our camp.

- Day 2 -
Friday - October 16, 2015

The night had proven pleasant though some clouds did move in on us in the early hours of the morning.  No matter, they weren't much of a threat and provided a fantastic backdrop for the sunrise.

As usual, the rest of the family slept in a bit while I had to do my own exploring around camp.

After breakfast, we packed up and headed back up the road in hopes of doing a loop hike of Peek-a-boo and Spooky slots.  We had to park our mini-van at the 2WD parking area and start hiking up the road for higher clearance vehicles a good distance to get to the trailhead proper.  Unfortunately, the extra distance required to get there killed what motivation the kids had and it was decided we ought to turn around and move on with the rest of the day's to-dos that would each require a lot less effort of them.

Next stop was Batty Pass Caves where some old remnants of two German brothers in the 1950's who had carved out some caves from the side of a rock face remained.  Other remnants were more contemporary, mainly two camp chairs left in one of the caves by someone and a notebook on one of the tables or work benches and few other odds and ends left behind by more recent visitors.

Batty Pass was interesting but the best of the day was yet to be seen.  We packed back into the car and headed for a dinosaur track site where dozens, and supposedly hundreds of dinosaur footprints were preserved in some petrified sandstone.  It took us a little while to find some that were more obvious as it was a lot like looking into a "Magic Eye" picture, but then I found what looked like a consistent pattern of some large animal footprints.

Sprinkling a bit of water on a couple of them really helped to bring out some contrast and detail.

Some of the fauna and flora at the site...

Satisfied with our finding and study of the dino tracks, we got back on the road and headed back for the town of Escalante where on the outskirts was the Escalante Petrified Forest State Park.  Had the kids not been with us, we probably would have paid the fee to hike the larger loop trail there, but instead opted for the lower cost paved trail that takes you through a display of several impressive and colorful pieces of petrified wood that have been collected.

The park was also in progress of constructing a new display that featured the longest petrified log I've ever stood next too.

It was now getting late in the day and we needed to be making our way back to Torrey.  So onward we went.

The drive on Highway 12 is always a treat.

Soon we were in Boulder where we made on last little stop at Anasazi State Park.  It is more of a museum where several archeological treasures from the area are on display along with the ruins of a puebloan village that and replica structure that can be entered into.

And with that, nearly all of our to-dos for the trip had been accomplished, the lone exception being the slot canyon hike.  Back to Torrey we went.

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