Phipps Arch sits hidden from view on top of a side canyon wall near Escalante River in southern Utah. No established trail goes to Phipps Arch but the last part of the hike up the wall of the canyon is cairned. The shortest way to reach Phipps Arch is to start at the Route 12 bridge on Escalante River and hike along the river 2 miles downstream then enter Phipps Canyon. As an alternative, I will describe below a longer and more scenic route that starts on Route 12 several miles west of Escalante River. This route will take you down beautiful slick-rock country past a number of dry waterfalls to the sandy bottom of Phipps Canyon. You will then enter the tight and lush part of Phipps Canyon before reaching the cairned wall.
The starting point is a nonspecific spot on Route 12 roughly 11 miles east of the town of Escalante. Please see the map below to identify this spot. You will not see any signs. There is enough room on the north (west bound) side of the road for one or two cars to park.
GPS coordinates are: 37 deg 45.025 minute North, 111 deg 26.73 minute West.
There is no trail. If you chose to hike here, you should be able to find your own way down slick-rock washes and retrace it back to Route 12.
View from Route 12 at the place I parked.
From Route 12
Head southeast down the slick-rock slopes.
Near Route 12
You will soon reach a dry waterfall. I bypassed this obstacle on the right. Looking back at the dry waterfall.
Looking back at the first dry waterfall
Continue down the slick-rock wash. In some places, the bottom of the wash is covered by sand.
You will then reach the edge of a big dry waterfall roughly 150 ft high. Water may be seen in a pool at the base of the fall in the canyon below.
Edge of dry fall
You can see the canyon continuing beyond the fall.
Canyon beyond the dry fall
I went on the right side of the fall continuing on the rim of the canyon a short distance until I reached this steep slope. Went down the slope to reach the bottom of the canyon where there was a big pine tree.
Going into the canyon
Looking back at the dry fall from the bottom of the canyon.
The dry waterfall
Continue down the canyon until you reach the junction with Phipps Canyon. Turn left and hike the sandy bottom of the canyon at the base of a big wall.
Continue hiking down the broad sandy bottom of the canyon.
The canyon narrows. A lush growth of bushes and trees appear.
After some bushwhacking, the canyon opens up a little.
Look on the right to find the small side canyon that leads you to Phipps Arch. Turn right into this canyon. Pay close attention to find the cairns taking you up the northern slick-rock wall of the canyon (on the left).
Cairned wall of the side canyon
The cairns were few and far in between. I lost the path a few times. As you go up the slope, you will reach two places where you have to climb walls 5-6 feet high. A pile of rocks and a tree trunk placed at the bottom of the walls make the climb much easier.