East Zion Cabins
Zion RV Park
Zion National Park
Pink Sand Dunes
The Ultimate Southwest Vacation includes the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument!
Stay in Mt. Carmel Jct., the heart of the parks, and visit
the treasures of the Southwest.
Mileage: Mt. Carmel Jct.
Plan your Grand Staircase- Escalante National Monument vacation
with our Utah and Arizona maps.
Zion Park 12 miles
Grand Staircase 9 miles
Sand Dunes 11 miles
Dixie Forest 22 miles
Cedar Breaks 45 miles
Red Canyon 47 miles
Coyote Butte 57 miles
Bryce Canyon 60 miles
North Rim 85 miles
Toroweap 90 miles
In these pages you will find insiders information on the best
Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument hikes. This detailed
guide includes road maps, park maps, pictures, trail beta, backpacking, history,
fees, geology, flora, fauna, campgrounds, things for kids to do and even information
on the Grand Staircase hidden treasures.
Making summer memories in Utah's national monuments.
Directions: East Zion to Staircase
Salt Lake City, travel south on I15 to U-20. Exit on U-20. Turn south on U-89
and follow U-89 to Glendale.
From Las Vegas: Travel I15 to exit 16. Follow U-9 to the south
entrance of Zion and through to the east entrance. Take U-9 for 12 miles to
Mt. Carmel Jct, where U-89 and U-9 meet. Drive north on U-89 to Glendale.
From Glendale, turn right on 300 N. (Bench Road) Follow the
graded dirt road, Skutumpah, into the Grand Staircase. Remember the Grand Staircase
is a wild and remote place. The dirt roads may be impassible when wet and there
is usually no water, services or cell phone access. Skutumpah is a backway and
should only be traveled in dry conditions. Call for road and weather information
before travel: 435.644.4680
37 06.769 N
111 41.309 W
Hoodoo Central - 4 miles
Towers of Silence
12 miles west of Big Water, just .75 miles north of Highway 89.
Beta: Coordinates and other
trail information by Zion Park search and rescue veteran team member Bo
Gear: A sturdy pair of shoes are recommend to hike many of the Grand Staircase
Trails. Quality shoes will help grip the rocks and prevent injury. Experienced
hikers and canyoneers like the Sportiva Exum Ridge. This shoe is great for
hiking, bouldering and canyoneering.
This article by Bo and Tanya was published in the St. George Today Magazine.
Photographs of white stone described as goblins, ghosts, toadstools and other oddities herald the unique geology of the sun scorched lands of the Southwest. Groves of capped white columns are located near Big Water at the edge of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The cap of the hoodoo is Dakota Sandstone which was a beach of an incoming seaway. It is 100 million years old, and the post of the hoodoos is Entrada Sandstone that is 160 million years old. There should be a layer of Morrison Sandstone but for some reason it wasn't laid down and isn't present. This is why there is such a large gap in the age of the cap and post . Near the Wahweap Hoodoos you can take a short walk to the darker side where brown "toadstools" make an appearance just off the highway at the Rimrocks.
Entrance Fees: There are no fees to enter the Grand Staircase
Escalante National Monument from the Cottonwood Road or to hike the trail on
Photo Album: Wahweap Hoodoo photos
Hoodoo Trail Map
Day hike: yes
Trail distance: 9.2 miles/14.81km round trip
Average Hiking Time: 5 hours
Trail Usage: Low
This hike is through a wash that can be very slippery if wet. When it's dry and hot there is little reprieve from the sun.
Trail conditions: Easy wash hiking. Full sun and hot in the summer.
Wahweap Creek just outside of Big Water, Utah
Trailend: Same as trailhead
Spring or Fall. This trail is in full sun and it is often too hot in the summer to hike.
Trail access: Year-round
Off the beaten path: Yes
Flash flood danger and slippery clay
Elevation Gain: 229'
Starting Elevation: 4042'
Highest Elevation: 4271' at the peak.
Water availability: Intermittent
water in the washes. Might be dry in the summer.
Wahweap Hoodoos Trailhead
From Kanab, drive east on Highway 89 toward Lake Powell for approximately 55 miles, until reaching the small town of Big Water, Utah. At Big Water, turn left on the Ethan Allen Road, which is between mile markers 6 and 7, directly across the highway from the Big Water Grand Staircase-Escalante Visitor Center. Follow Ethan Allen past several streets to a "T" in the road. Turn left at the "T" and bypass the old softball field on the left side of the now gravel road. Follow this wide, graded road past two fish hatcheries. Continue north past a corral which is located 3 miles from Highway 89. If driving a 2WD, park on the right side of the road just before crossing the creek and then begin the hike up Wahweap Creek. High clearance 4WD vehicles can continue past the corral, crossing Wahweap Creek, and then continue for .3 miles. The trail begins in Wahweap Creek just below the 4WD parking area.
Start at the confluence of Coyote Creek, Nipple Creek and Wahweap Creek. The trip through Wahweap Wash is a leisurely hike that is easily navigated. Be aware that if the clay at the edge of the creek is wet it can be extremely slippery. Hike north up Wahweap Wash. Avoid damaging the environment by staying in the watercourse whenever possible. At approximately a half-mile, a dilapidated "hanging fence" is suspended over the creek bed. Continue past the fence hiking in the wide open wash of Wahweap Creek. Spectacular views of the gentle sloping fields of "pocketed" white Entrada Sandstone are seen to the north. Farther up the wash, sandstone formations appear taller and are vertical in nature. Continue north, heading for the large "red buttress" on the eastern side of the creek. At the 2 mile mark, stop and hike toward the obvious white hoodoos located on the west (left) side of the wash. Continue toward the first teasers of brown capped, tall white hoodoos. At 2.3 miles, you should be up against the white, slick rock band on the western side of the wash. At 3 miles, more delicate white hoodoos become apparent. At 3.6 miles, hikers will reach the first white towering hoodoo landmark.
Second Cove of White Hoodoos
To get to the next cove of hoodoos at 4 miles, stay close to the edge of the white rock and avoid as much of the dense tamarisk as possible. This path winds around into a deep grotto with more hoodoos. There is a beaten path close to the white columns, but staying at a distance is beneficial to the fragile rock and will not damage the surrounding cryptobiotic soil. The spectacular white hoodoos are formed by erosion of soft Entrada Sandstone and are easily damaged. Respect them by taking pictures from a distance and do not try to climb on or around them.
Third Cove of White Hoodoos
"Towers of Silence"
The "famous photographed white hoodoo" is found at the 4.3 mile mark. Upon arrival at this allotment of unusual rock, one would almost sense that the formations have lives of their own, as they seem to be sprouting from the earth. The soft sandstone spires set the imagination free. This is the end of the alcoves. Relax in the shade, have a lunch and prepare for the picturesque hike back down Wahweap Wash to exit.
If time and energy permit, after hiking to the Wahweap Hoodoos, the short side trip to the Rimrocks will top off the day of hoodoo viewing. This wonderful and easily accessed cove contains darker versions as well as magnificent pearly white columns. Nature's handiwork is mingled with whimsical peculiarities and nonsense in this arid land of sand and stone. From Big Water, drive 12 miles west on Highway 89. Look for a small parking area and trailhead kiosk on the right side (north) of the road. There will be a register box and a hiker's gate to pass through.
After following the trail north for approximately .6 miles, weaving alongside the wash and then dropping into the watercourse, hoodoos will become visible ahead. Notice the white rock formations to the right and red rock formations to the left. Both directions lead to the unique hoodoos known as the Rimrocks. The "Toadstool Hoodoo" can be found by walking up the left hand wash at the intersection of the two washes. The trails branch either left to the red rock hoodoos or by taking the right hand wash, the hoodoos are formed in the white rock.
The idea of wilderness needs no defense, it only needs
-- Edward Abbey