Just east of Escalante, UT there is a road known as Hole In The Rock Road. About 35 miles down this sometimes rough but generally well maintained gravel and sand road, you will find the Forty Mile Ridge road which turns off to the quickest entrance to the confluence of the Escalante River and Coyote Gulch. Note these pictures were taken on the return trip and so they face the opposite direction of what one would encounter on the way in to the trailhead.
  Forty Mile Ridge road. It's much narrower than Hole in the Rock Road but not much rougher. The last two miles, past the water tank trailhead, have deep sand and are not recommended for non-4wd vehicles.
  The last mile of the road to the trailhead. We didn't get stuck, but it was a little nerve-wracking cruising down this sandy doubletrack not knowing if we'd make it, and who would help pull us out if we didn't. You can go hours without a car passing down this way, and I'm sure at slower times of the year it could be days.
  Yes, the sand was deep and soft.
  Hiking across mostly barren desert to get to the crack in the wall, the only entrance to the canyon for miles, unless you have wings.
  When you're hiking across the desert you have no idea of the sight that awaits you at the edge.
  The crack in the wall first involves climbing down this narrow slot... it's about two feet wide. You can hand your packs down from above.
  The second part is even narrower, about a foot in some spots. Since you can't wear your pack, you either have to drag it behind you, carry it over your head, or lower it over the side of the cliff with a rope.
  Lowering it with a rope is the easiest method, it's around 30 feet down to a ledge.
  After you get through the crack, it's time to put the packs back on for a long, sandy descent into the canyon. You can see Stevens arch in the distance, it's one of the largest in the state.
  Our home for the weekend. We camped near the confluence of the Coyote and Escalante.
  Hiking in Coyote Gulch is wonderful, you're surrounded by beautiful scenery and there are areas of shade throughout much of the canyon. A lot of the "trail" just involves walking down the river bed. Wear shoes (or sandals) you don't mind getting thoroughly wet.
  Some of the prickly pear cacti were in bloom, it's amazing how much of an impact small splashes of color have in this landscape.
  As you hike up the canyon you encounter a few waterfalls, getting around them can be a bit tricky and usually involves climbing around to the side.
  There was not a lot of water flowing in the canyon but it still seems powerful at these waterfalls.
  We probably saw 100 lizards, it's fun to watch them run effortlessly up the sheer rock walls.
  A few miles up the canyon there's a large pictograph panel near these trees. The Anasazi lived in this canyon around 1000 years ago.
  Around five miles up the canyon is Coyote Bridge, which the river has carved through the canyon.
  Another view of Coyote Bridge.
  We spent a full day exploring the canyon and returned back to camp exhausted but happy. The next day we got an early start on the long sandy slog back up through the crack in the wall where we had come in.
  Make sure to pack your cooler with plenty of ice so you have some nice cold beverages to reward you upon your return to the car.
  After resting and relaxing at an awesome B&B in Escalante, we took scenic Highway 12 back up to Torrey, UT. This is an amazing road that goes through some beautiful country. There's a lot of variety, from slickrock desert canyons to forested alpine terrain at nearly 10,000 feet.
  This road is a lot of fun to drive.
  From Torrey we took a diversion east to Capitol Reef National Park, the scenery there is equally impressive.
  This overlook was on a short hiking trail that we had all to ourselves. Capitol Reef seems to be off the radar of many of the tourists who visit southern Utah, indeed we had never visited it before and I've been to Arches and Zion numerous times. We really enjoyed our brief visit there and hope to come back again soon. After our all too brief vacation it was time to head back to SLC. There's so much to see in the southern part of this state that we're already talking about the next trip.