Adventures in Escalante-Photo Trip Report

Adventures in Escalante-Photo Trip Report

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: May 30, 2010
Activities Activities: Hiking, Scrambling, Canyoneering
Seasons Season: Spring


This is a brief trip report album to describe our trip on May 28-31 2010 to the Escalante River Region in Southeast Utah. The region is by far and away one of the most beautiful regions on earth. The idea is to let the photos tell the story.

BeautifulThis is a section of the beautiful Fortymile Gulch.

May 28-29: Fortymile and Willow Creeks

The original idea was to do a loop featuring Scorpion Gulch in the Escalante region, but we found that the road there was rougher than it used to be. Since we didn’t expect the road to be rough, we brought our low-clearance vehicle.

As a backup plan we (Kessler, Shaylee, Kimberly, my dad and me) did the Fortymile Gulch and Willow Creek Loop, which is no bad thing. The Fortymile Gulch/Willow Creek is one of the best and most scenic routes in the world. Some sources bill this as a difficult route, but our two kids had a blast on it.

May 28

After a late start (due to trying to drive the Early Weed Bench Road), we started down Fortymile Creek. The canyon starts out as an uninteresting wash, but after not too long it drops into a slot canyon. We bypassed the slot on the left and came down another side slot (rated by some sources as class 4) before dropping into the canyon and eating lunch.

Fortymile CreekKessler and Shaylee in Fortymile Creek on May 28 2010. This is where the canyon starts to get wet and scenic.

Fortymile CreekKessler, Kim and Shaylee in Fortymile Creek. Not far below this section the canyon will start to get challenging.

After lunch it was down canyon. The best part of the canyon started at a waterfall. After avoiding poison ivy very carefully we bypassed the waterfall and continued down canyon. The canyon slots up and is filled with clear running water and became extremely beautiful. There were several sections to wade or swim through and this was the kid’s favorite part. It was a hot day and the water temperature was refreshing, plus the kids really liked all the fish and crayfish swimming in the water.

Fortymile CreekKim and Shaylee wading through Fortymile Creek.

Narrowing PassagewaysAs we continued down Fortymile Creek, the passages became more narrow.

Fortymile CreekKessler, Shaylee and me in Fortymile Creek in the Escalante River area on May 28 2010. Some sources (Such as NPS) rate this as a very difficult route, but we didn't find it so bad. There were many swimming sections (at least for the kids) and some supposedly 4th class (closer to class 3 in my opinion) downclimbs, but overall the route was pure fun. It took us two days to go down Fortymile and up Willow Creek.

Slippery PassagesThere were a fw slippery sections in Fortymile Gulch.

Wet NarrowsSome of the wet narrow sections in Fortymile Gulch that must be negotiated.

ChockstoneRounding a bend with a chockstone wedged above. Fortymile Gulch.

Under the ChockstoneTo get through Fortymile Gulch, you pass under this huge chockstone.

Long sections of wadingThe route through Fortymile Gulch has long sections of wading.

After continuing through the wading and swimming sections, we eventually found ourselves at the Willow Creek. Kimberly and the kids waited at the junction while my dad and I explored down canyon. We explored down canyon for an hour or so, but it was getting late so we returned back up to the junction.

Opening upThe route through Fortymile Gulch has long sections of wading.

We all swam and waded up lower Willow Creek to where we found a small but adequate sandy bench to sleep on for the night. It was a nice place, but it was noisy with all the croaking frogs whose noise was echoed off the canyon walls.

Huge WallsAlthough the scale is hard to capture on film, the walls in lower Willow Gulch area huge.

Willow CreekMy Dad in Willow Creek.

May 29

After waking up, we had a leisurely breakfast before hiking up Willow Creek. It was a great canyon in the lower end until we got to the huge Broken Bow Arch. We went and hiked up and around the arch before eating lunch at the pools and waterslides near the base of the arch.

Beautiful Willow CreekThis is beautiful Willow Creek.

Broken Bow ArchThis is Broken Bow Arch in Willow Creek, a side canyon of the Ecalante River. May 29 2010. Parts of the route Fortymile to Willow Creek were challenging, but around the arch the route is easy.

Broken Bow ArchStanding next to the huge Broken Bow Arch in Willow Creek.

After a good soak, we headed up canyon. Since we didn’t have a car shuttle, we decided to finish the canyon directly up to the road rather than exiting the standard route. Rumor was that there are some nice slot canyons up there. We negotiated the first slot without packs and Kessler thought that it was so much fun that he wanted to do it again (which we did). After retrieving the packs and heading up canyon we got to some more nice slots. We also found out that the slot canyon was blocked by a rattlesnake. We had to chimney up and over the snake, but it was exiting to say the least.

ClimbingKessler climbing up a side canyon in Willow Creek.

RattlesnakeLooking down on a rattlesnake in a side canyon of Willow Gulch. We had to climb up and over the rattlesnake using chimneying moves.

After exiting the slot we headed across the desert to the Hole in the Rock Road. We bumbled a bit since we didn’t have a good topo map of the route (because we were planning on doing different canyons rather than this one), but we made our way through the heat and reached the road not far (one mile or so) from where our car was parked. We got a ride for the last short distance. It was an awesome trip and one of the kid’s all-time favorites.

May 30: Peek-a-boo and Spooky Canyons

My dad had to get to Green River in the afternoon in order to catch the Greyhound Bus, so we had to do a relatively short hike today. We chose Peekaboo and Spooky Canyons, two interesting canyons in the Escalante region.

Climbing into PeekabooKessler climbing into Peekaboo Slot.

We left very early in the morning and headed for Peekaboo Canyon. Kessler and Shaylee loved the climb into the canyon and had a blast exploring it and climbing over the obstacles. When the slot widened to a wash, we hiked across the desert to the head of Spooky Canyon.

Entrance into PeekabooEight year old Kessler climbing into the entrance route of Peekaboo Canyon on May 30 2010. Some sources rate this climb as class 4+, but is seems easier than that to me.

Peekaboo SlotKessler climbing into Peekaboo Slot.

Phantom LegsThese are Kessler's legs, but where did the rest of him go?

The kids really liked climbing through the canyon and due to the narrowness of the passage beat the adults through. Because we were trying to keep up with the children, I didn't get any photos of Spooky Canyon! After Spooky Canyon we headed to the slot in Upper Dry Fork. Kessler, my dad and I explored Dry Fork while Shaylee and Kim played in the sand in the shade. After exploring Dry Fork we headed back to the trailhead and drove to Green River where we did some church activities.

May 31: Mill Creek

It was a hot day, so we drove from Green River to Moab in order to hike Mill Creek. Mill Creek is a good one in hot weather since there are many swimming holes along the route.

Mill Creek Mill Creek near Moab has some nice petroglyhs. May 31 2010.

We hiked up canyon and into the North Fork, visiting many petroglyphs panels along the way. It was a challenge to avoid the poison ivy, but we did so carefully. After reaching the biggest pool and waterfall, we ate lunch and hung around. The kids like to swim in the pool above the big one and Kim and I slid down the falls and into the pool.

Mill CreekOne of the many waterfalls and pools in Mill Creek.

Ledge traverseOne of the ledge traverses in Mill Creek. There is a good trail below, but this one avoids the poison ivy!

After getting completely soaked, we headed back to the trailhead in hot weather. We were glad that we were wet.


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Viewing: 1-6 of 6

Dave K - Sep 27, 2010 10:14 am - Voted 10/10


wonderful eye candy. Looks you guys had a blast.

eri - Apr 10, 2012 1:16 pm - Hasn't voted


I am a Utah native who loves southern Utah but is far less knowledgeable then I'd like to be about it. I want to take my kids here. In fact I love this post and even might just copy your itinerary if you don't mind. I've been looking for something like this we could do with our kids who are 9 and 6 years old. I'm not exactly sure where to find more information about Fortymile canyon. Could you tell me more? Things like; is first of July a safe time to go and how exactly do you get here? We have done the Hole-in-the-Rock off road trail that takes you to the opposite side of the actual hole in the rock but it sounds like this might be on the other side of the river?
Anyway any info you could offer I'm sure would be greatly helpful. One of our usual adventure buddies loves to climb but rarely gets to because we take kids and he has limited gear. Do you ever do climbing trips with kids?


Scott - Apr 11, 2012 6:14 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Questions

might just copy your itinerary if you don't mind.

I do not mind.

I'm not exactly sure where to find more information about Fortymile canyon.

Try Steve Allen's Canyoneering III. If you can't find it, try Kelsey's Non-technical Hiking Guide to the Colorado Plateau

Things like; is first of July a safe time to go and how exactly do you get here?

The two ends of the hike are dry and hot, but most of it is wet and has pools and waterfalls to cool off in, so July is possible. Get an early start for the dry parts.

You access the Hike from the Hole in the Rock Road from Escalante. You will need a good map for this.

Do you ever do climbing trips with kids?

Yes; all the time. See below (also has links to previous trips):

Trip Log

andrew david

andrew david - Mar 22, 2013 3:09 pm - Voted 10/10


Good pictorial reviews, and as I will not have a high clearance vehicle any time soon, this is a good one for me to have come across. I may try all these canyons, or at least some of them this coming spring.

kaniukr - Mar 23, 2013 6:10 pm - Hasn't voted

hiking with kids

I often see your trip reports with your kids - they do brilliantly. I would love to take mine hiking. How old are yours and what age did they start doing long hikes with climbing and chimneying? Seems they have no problems in the heat? Have they had much tuition on climbing/canyoneering techniques?
Also those vests they have in this fortymile trip report photos. Are they for warmth in the cold pools, or flotation?
Thanks Ross


Scott - Mar 23, 2013 8:00 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: hiking with kids

How old are yours and what age did they start doing long hikes with climbing and chimneying?

They are 8 & 10 now, but started the long hikes with Chimneying/stemming at around age 4. Maybe a few at age 3, but with help.

Seems they have no problems in the heat?

With heat, we try and go places with water. When away from water, we also take squirt guns so they can cool each other off.

Have they had much tuition on climbing/canyoneering techniques?

Plenty from their parents. Here's Shaylee just after her 8th birthday:


Also those vests they have in this fortymile trip report photos. Are they for warmth in the cold pools, or flotation?

These particular pools were actually pretty warm. Those are life jackets for safety. If they are going to be swimming much, we bring life jackets.

Anyway, scrambling, climbing and canyoneering just takes practice. We try to get the kids out at least 100 days a year:







Anyway, good luck with your future adventures and good luck with your kids.

Viewing: 1-6 of 6



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