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The Gulch

Southern Utah Wanderings | Canyons of the Escalante
Saturday & Sunday, October 4-5, 2014

On Saturday morning I left for my annual week-long trip into southern Utah. This year I planned to spend the whole week along the canyons of the Escalante River in the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument. I met Jared, who would be joining me for the entire trip, in Boulder and we took off down the Burr Trail to the trailhead for The Gulch. Our plan was to start out with an overnight backpack trip into The Gulch so I could visit a few rock art sites that had been on my radar for a few years.

Backlit cottonwoods as we enter The Gulch.

The Gulch

Jared photographing the first petroglyph panel we came across.

Photographing Petroglyphs

A few closer shots of this interesting panel.

Circle Sheep

Gulch Petroglyphs

Horned Sun Panel

Nice light in a large alcove we explored nearby.

Big Alcove Stripes

We found a very impressive set of pictographs hidden in a shallow alcove.


Three Figures

There were some Barrier Canyon Style figures as well as some designs similar to those found in the Weavers Caves.

Pictograph Cave

Pictograph Detail

We hiked a little way up Sand Hollow to search for a spring that was supposed to be there, but were unable to find it.

Sand Hollow

We setup camp just below the confluence with Sand Hollow.

Gulch Camp

After setting up camp we hiked further down-canyon to this cabin before turning back around.

Line Cabin

After returning to camp we had some dinner and then I climbed out of the canyon and onto the King Bench to explore more of the area.

Dome Stripes

Sandstone Exploring

Looking back down into The Gulch.

Hiking Out of The Gulch

Nice views from up here.

The Gulch Sunset

When I reached the closest high point this little gray fox started following me around.


Mesa Top

Disappearing light on sandstone domes.

King Bench Light

When the sun was down we hiked back to camp and pretty much went right to bed. It had been a long day and we were pretty tired.

On Sunday morning we were up shortly after sunrise and took down our camp so we could hike back out to the trailhead. Since we were camped near the creek in the bottom of the canyon, it was a bit cold when we got up, but it quickly warmed up once the sun reached the bottom of the canyon.

We climbed up to this large alcove with a smoke-stained ceiling on our hike back out. There were no ruins or rock art inside, but we did find some pot sherds, corncobs and plenty of lithic scatter.

Alcove Exploring

Jared in the entrance of the alcove.

Exiting the Alcove

Jared spotted this arch on our way back up the canyon. At first we weren’t sure if it really was an arch since we couldn’t see through it, but we eventually found this view that let us see the opening.


Two hoodoos above The Gulch.


Before leaving the trailhead, we visited a nearby granary that is marked on some USGS topographic maps of the area. It was pretty easy to find.

Gulch Granary

Opening on the top.

Granary Door

After leaving the trailhead we stopped in Boulder for lunch before continuing on to the Escalante area for the remainder of the week. On our way we explored a few seldom-used Jeep roads that didn’t appear to go anywhere interesting. Luckily, as we were ready to turn around and find a campsite for the night we spotted some sand dunes off in the distance. We were unaware of sand dunes in the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument so we hiked over to them just before sunset so we could check them out and take plenty of photos. It was a nice little area of dunes that were pristine without a footprint to be found anywhere. We climbed some of the higher dunes and took photos until the sun was down and the light was gone. It was a lot of fun having some nice sand dunes all to ourselves!

Sand blowing off the top of the dune when we first arrived.

Blowing Sand

Great light and shadows.

Dune Shadows

Sand Dune Ripples

There were no tracks when we arrived, but I had to leave some behind in order to explore this area and take plenty of photos!

My Footprints

There were ripples in the sand everywhere catching the evening light.


Jared photographing from the top of a dune.

Photographing Dunes

Catching Light

Before we left, we just had to run and jump off the top of a few of the dunes. We must be crazy for jumping into soft sand with expensive camera gear in our hands and on our backs, but it sure was fun!


The skeleton of a tree, the Earth’s shadow and the almost-full moon as we hiked back across the desert to my Jeep.

Twilight Tree

>> The Gulch Photo Gallery

One Comment

  1. John Spurr
    John Spurr November 25, 2014

    Wonderful trip report… as always! If you ever write a book, I’ll edit it for free. I did a lot of editing in my career.

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