Huge Views; Tiny Canyons
Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument is -- hands down -- one of my favorite places in the world. It's a huuuuuuuge, Delaware-sized expanse of sandstone busting at the seams with crazy geology, zebra-striped slots, and wide-open solitude. It's fantastic.
My job starts up again next week, meaning this is the last 'weekend' Jordan and I will have off together for a few months -- time to go out with a bang! Luckily, our full-time RVer buddies, Jeff and Coffee, have been camped out in GSENM for a few weeks and wanted to show us their new, temporary turf.
We loaded up the car and set our sites on Zebra Slot Canyon. Zebra is a gorgeous little slot off Hole in the Rock Road. It's a relative easy, non-technical canyon hike that quickly constricts into a beautiful pink-and-white striped sandstone section. The delicate striations and embedded Moki balls make it ridiculously photogenic, and we had a blast sneaking through the stripy corridors of rock.
From the town of Escalante, UT, drive east for about 5 miles along Hwy 12. Turn right (south) onto Hole in the Rock Road. This road is a crapshoot -- it might be totally fine, or a washboarded nightmare that rattles your brain out of your skull! Reset your odometer when you turn on Hole in the Road Road. Drive 8 miles. Just after a cattle guard, you'll see a trailhead on the south side of the road (0.2 miles before Halfway Hollow.) The trailhead isn't signed, but there's a fairly obvious trailhead and social trail. (GPS coordinates: 37.63943, -111.44561.)
From the trailhead, cross the road and follow the obvious social trail on the north side of the road near the cattle guard. Hike north as you work your way down to Halfway Hollow. After about 45 minutes of walking, you'll reach the bottom outlet of Halfway Hollow. From here, veer left and head towards Zebra. Follow the path, cross Harris Wash, and hike towards the first obvious side canyon on your left.
Zebra looks like a fairly generic slot canyon at the start, but after a few minutes of shimmying between the progressively narrower walls you'll quickly enter the short but fantastic pink-striped section. Take a minute for gawking before turning around and hiking back to Harris Wash.
But wait, there's more! After checking out Zebra, Tunnel Slot is definitely worth a look. Hike down Harris Wash a bit less than a mile from Zebra to the first side canyon on your left. Hike up this side canyon for 10-ish minutes to reach the Tunnel. It was full of thigh-deep water this time around, so we didn't delve into it, but it was still worth a peak from the canyon mouth.
When you've had your fill, retrace your steps up Harris Wash to Halfway Hollow and back to the trailhead. All told, the hike was about 9 miles. Success!