The Best Time to Hike Coyote Gulch

In All, Camping and Backpacking, Escalante, Hiking, Wilderness by DylanLeave a Comment

Sarah and Josh walk toward Jacob Hamblin Arch.

I’ve been coming to Escalante for over 20 years and still to this day, Coyote Gulch remains by FAR my favorite canyon. It’s so sensual, inviting, and above all else, absolutely stunning! With all of Escalante’s canyons, the best time of year to visit is in the spring or fall when the temperatures are not extreme, and the crowds are typically less. And out of those two seasonal options, my favorite time of year is late fall – specifically early November.

Why November?

I’ve hit it right two years now (check out my previous blog post) and each time, I leave simply amazed by the sheer beauty of the place. I just can’t get enough of the golden cottonwoods, the red poison oak and the gurgle of the creek. Every turn brings a new postcard image and every step the light seems to change.

Early morning milking. Farm photography starts with the farmer and ends with the farmer.

Now November comes with its own challenges, specifically the nightly temps. It can easily dip into the teens. So I always come overly prepared with a -15 degree bag and tent. And LOTS of warm drink options. Ice can develop on the banks and the cold temps can wreak havoc on exposed feet, so I also like to wear waterproof hightops.

Also, be sure to bring wagbags or other suitable human waste management solutions. Remember, pack it in, pack it out! Over the years, Coyote Gulch has seen thousands of people and only grows in popularity.

A woman crosses Coyote Gulch.

Be sure to wear waterproof boots or water shoes. Creek crossings are mandatory.

Which Route?

I’ve done Coyote roughly 5 or six times. The first time when I was in fifth grade with my parents. There is no best way to do it – it’s really a matter of personal preference. I personally like having a full day without a pack, so I prefer to setup a basecamp and exploring from there. The best way to do this is by doing a two night, three day trip, camping at the same place two nights in a row. Jacob Hamblin Arch is the most obvious – and with reason – but I have found it to be hard to find camping sometimes and I am not a huge fan of camping right next to other campers. A turn or two upstream or downstream provides great camping, while also being close enough to enjoy exploring and photographing the arch.

A man fills his water bag in Coyote Gulch.

Water is plenty here, but make sure you filter! I prefer Platypus Gravity bags for ease of use.

From base camp, I like to hike downstream to Jug Handle Arch, aka Cliff Arch, and back. And if I’m feeling really strong or haven’t spent too much time photographing the hundreds of amazing sites, I’ll hike all the way to the Escalante River and back (be prepared for a BIG day if you do this).

A man peers into a water feature in Coyote Gulch.

This is definitely one of my favorite water features. Photos are mandatory.

A woman looks up at Coyote Natural Bridge

Sarah under Coyote Natural Bridge.

A woman looks down into Coyote Gulch from Cliff Arch.

Sarah takes in the view below Cliff Arch.

There are several other ways to hike Coyote Gulch – down Crack in the Wall and up the sneak at Jacob Hamblin. Backpacking the entire length and then back up. Really, it’s up to you and your group. As always, be sure to inquire at the visitors center for the latest information on the road conditions, recommended route and waste management suggestions.

A man climbs down from Jacob Hamblin Arch

If you’re feeling brave (and solid), there’s a route up Jacob Hamblin Arch.

Be safe and be sure you practice Leave No Trace!! Also, never head into the backcountry unprepared – always let someone know where you are going, how long you will be, and have a first aid kit. I prefer MyMedic.

Select fine-art prints are available from this trip here:

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