This road once played a center-stage role in one of the great epics of the colonization of the West. Mormon Church leaders determined this direct route to be the best for a large group of settlers to travel from central Utah to the San Juan area to the southeast. The expedition set off in 1879, then encountered and surmounted enormous difficulties in descending cliffs to the Colorado River. Later travelers took a more sensible route and today the countryside here appears much as it did to the colonists.
The drive from Escalante is 126 miles roundtrip and ends near Hole-in-the-Rock, a notch the colonists enlarged where they began the perilous descent to the Colorado River. Dry weather and a high-clearance vehicle are recommended for the drive; the last six miles are especially rough. Devil's Garden at 12.5 miles from UT 12 has pretty rock features of red- and cream-colored sandstone, including Metate Arch; there's a picnic area but no camping. Dance Hall Rock, a natural amphitheater at 38 miles from UT 12, once resounded to fiddle music and dance steps of the colonists. At road's end, 57 miles from UT 12, it's a short walk to Hole-in-the-Rock and views of Lake Powell far below. Many side roads branch off Hole-in-the-Rock Road to trailheads for Escalante Canyon to the north.
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- The Hole-in-the-Rock trail is now a 60-mile road starting south on UT 12 and ending at the actual site of Hole-in-the-Rock near Glen Canyon. Unfortunately a large part of the original trail has been flooded by Lake Powell waters.
Southeast of Escalante
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, 755 W. Main
Escalante, Utah 84726
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