Extreme heat in the Grand Canyon caused a last minute change of plans, and we headed for southern Utah instead.
We left Boise in the early evening, and just outside of Burley, Idaho, we stopped for the night at a rest area (fancy!). The driver of this van joined us for what was surely an uncomfortable overnight sleep. Oh boy.
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was our ultimate destination, but we stopped at Capitol Reef National Park on the way, buying maps of Capitol Reef and Escalante. The park ranger handed us the maps, “It will take several lifetimes to see all this,” he said. It’s no joke. There are five national parks (Capitol Reef, Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce, and Zion) in southern Utah, in addition to numerous national monuments and state parks. You could spend the rest of your life here and not feel like you’ve seen it all.
The Calf Creek campground was full, so the host let us sleep in the parking lot (fancy!).
Calf Creek Falls is a popular hike in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument for good reason. The trail follows Calf Creek 3 miles to the 126 ft. high lower falls.The canyon was home to the Fremont Culture who lived here from AD 700 to AD 1300 and left these life-sized pictographs. It’s hard to tell from this photo, but they’re quite high, higher than you could reach by standing on the ground. Maybe they had a ladder…?
The creek bottom is green and wet, in sharp contrast to the surrounding terrain of Navajo Sandstone. Larry caught and released a bunch of 8-10″ brown trout.
It was a hot day, so we were happy to see the falls up ahead and hoping for a swim, but the water was icy cold–better suited to wading than swimming. It’s a beautiful spot, but if you’re looking for solitude, this is not the place!
Millions of years ago, this area was a huge desert with sand dunes hundreds of feet high that formed when sand blew in from an inland sea in central Nevada.
After the hike, Larry grilled veggies and consulted The Sibley Field Guide to Birds to identify an strikingly beautiful bird we’d seen on the hike. Turned out to be the Spotted Towhee which he knew well from Oregon. Somehow it seemed exotic in southern Utah’s canyons.