Down the road: Sunset Arch and Willow Creek, Escalante

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

Flowers and the arch.

The Escalante region doesn’t get as much attention as say, Arches or Zion, but it is certainly just as beautiful! A couple weekends back I decided to check out Sunset Arch. This geological wonder sits in the middle of the desert. From all directions, it’s nearly impossible to spot, but once you’re out there it’s quite the treat.

The following day, I ventured down Willow Creek.

If you’ve read a couple of my other posts, you probably know that I’m fortunate in the fact that my parents, Ricki and Sandy, live in Escalante. They own and operate La Luz and La Luna, both of which are amazing vacation rentals with spectacular views of the Kaiparowitz¬†Plateau.

Anyway, starting from there we headed down the wash board road known as the Hole-In-The-Rock Road. We drove roughly 40 miles. We passed several of the iconic canyons, such as Coyote Gulch and Peek-a-Boo and Spooky and camped at Sooner Rocks.

The rents hiking out to the arch.

The rents hiking out to the arch.

I have never been to Sunset Arch and was pleasantly surprised. The way it just stands out above the rest of the landscape makes it absolutely spectacular!! We packed in a couple of beers and watched the light change… quite the show!! My parents left before me, but I stayed late into darkness. I walked back to the truck by headlight.

I just had to take photos of my parents.

I just had to take photos of my parents.


And another. After all, it was almost their 30th anniversary!

Dad, surfing.

Ricki, surfing.

Self portrait. Like I said, I stayed into dark.

Self portrait. Like I said, I stayed ’til dark.

Sunset Arch, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah

The next day we took our time leaving camp and headed down the road from Sooner Rocks only a couple miles to the mouth of Willow Creek. The sun was low for the first couple of hours, so the photography was pretty good before the sun came up. This canyon has a ton of archeology, including wall art — up a secret side canyon (no photos) — , a cliff dwelling and the infamous Broken Bow Arch. Yes, a broken bow was found near the arch.

Sandy making sure her feet don't get wet.

Sandy taking measures to ensure she stays dry.

It's the desert...

It’s the desert… (Click image to buy print)

Looking upstream, only a couple miles downstream.

The arch doesn’t take much time to get to, especially if you’re not stopping to take photos. But, by the time we arrived, it was basked in full sun, so I only snapped a couple of shots. There is an interesting route up the left hand side, if you have decent scrambling skills.

Broken Bow arch.

Farther down the canyon narrows. The canyon floor becomes slippery and the light bounces off the canyon walls. It reminds me of Zion’s Subway. Very cool and very colorful!

Striated sand leading into the “subway” part of the canyon.

My parents exploring the “subway” part of the canyon.

Down the tracks.

After the slippery narrows, the canyon constricts and becomes very dark. The water also becomes deep. Up to our crotches at times. My camera was tucked away, so I didn’t have many photos of this part of the canyon. Would have brought housing would I had known.

Sandy finding her balance before venturing into the depths.

Sandy finding her balance before venturing into the depths.

Once the canyon widens, which is also mere meters from the edge of Lake Powell, you come to the confluence of Willow Creek and 40 Mile Creek. Near the confluence is a grainery.

Grainery (lower right).

On the way out, the light had changed, so I didn’t take many photos. The sun was blaring straight above. But when we got back to camp… wow!! The light show was amazing!!!

As was the morning show!! I really do love southern Utah!!!

One last shot before we completely left the canyon.

One last shot before we completely left the canyon.

Ricki passing the hat.

Ricki passing the hat.

Sandy and Rick back at the truck.

Sandy and Ricki back at the truck.

One of the many scenes found at Sooner Rocks.

The last beams on the desert.

Next morning sunrise over camp.

Next morning sunrise over camp.

Oh, did I mention a windstorm came through? (Click image to buy print)

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