where to stay:
Escalante Yurts is a stellar home base for all your Hole-in-the-Rock adventures. Jan Roundy, the owner, really rolls out the red carpet for her guests - but honestly, you feel like she's your friend. These luxury yurts are situated on 20 acres of private property and Jan really encouraged our 10 kids to run and explore and feel at home.
Also, fresh hot muffins delivered daily. I mean SERIOUSLY!!!
Plus there is a fire pit and plenty of chairs outside for relaxing and roasting Peeps. (our favorite)
where to eat:
We pretty much ordered one of everything on the menu and we're not kidding when we say everything was amazing!! The college burger, the toasted sub, the mushroom and swiss, so good! Joe Catlett is the owner and if you stop in you've got to get him to tell you his story. He and his wife were floating the river and got off in Escalante and fell in love with the town. They decided to start a new life there have several businesses all over town. Really cool guy!
what to do:
High Adventure Rentals
When you are in Escalante, Utah you MUST rent a ATV from High Adventure Rentals (and get a coke at their gas station) because Hole-in-the-Rock Road is a beast of a long dirt road (we're talking 60+ miles people). At High Adventure Rentals, you can rent 4-wheelers, 2-seater ATV, 4-seater and even a 6-seater - or if being completely exposed isn't your cup of tea, you can rent a Jeep (or even hire them to shuttle you to your destination down Hole-in-the-Rock). Rachel and Cassidy are so kind and helpful and can show you the best places to stop on your adventure. They gave us a GPS with coordinates to follow and some insider tips on what to do at each stop. Can you tell these kids were ready to rock and roll?!
Our first stop was Covered Wagon Wash. We would've driven right past it, if Rachel hadn't told us to be sure to get out and hike DOWN to the wash because it's super impressive to walk through the actual water-carved tunnel...the walls were super cool and damp.
After playing and hiking at the wash, we continued on down the road to a mesa overlook...seriously, can you believe all those trees are in southern Utah?
This little guy had so much fun bumpy along, he'd put his arms in the air and yell, "Woohoo!" ALL.THE.TIME! It was hilarious!
The kids also loved driving through the streams that we had to cross along the way! Best part about renting an ATV?! Not having to clean all the mud off of them!
We took our picnic to Devil's Garden and spent quite some time playing around these hoodoos. What is it about weird rock formations that bring out the kid in all of us?
At this point, the moms stayed with some kids to explore and relax while the dads took the more adventurous children on a crazy ride. I am not sure who got the better end of the deal.
About 18 months ago, half of Wandering Families hiked through Spooky and Peek-a-Boo slot canyons (you can read about that here with detailed tips), so we HAD to show our cousins the coolest hike ever! It turned out to be a completely different experience - cold and rainy. (FYI: most slot canyons are extremely dangerous with wet weather, BUT these two are NOT in a gulley system, so they are safe) Here is the beginning of the trail down the slick rock...even in rainy weather, it's beautiful (and we were the ONLY ones at the trailhead and on the trail - unlike last time we visited)
Remember to hike the slot canyons in reverse (start with Spooky and then to Peek-a-boo) - it is much easier.
Spooky Canyon is very narrow and unreal if you've never done a slot canyon.
When there is this much water and mud, you'll be tempted to chimney a lot, but trust us just get muddy and wet and save your energy...
Water was thigh deep on the adults and waist/chest deep on the kids, but we all just laughed and screamed and made it fun!
It is best to bring some webbing or a rope that you can tie around an adult's waist and use it to help you and your kiddos climb down at the very end of Peek-a-boo canyon. It will be the difference between a hair-raising negative experience or an amazing-I-can-do-anything kind of experience!
Even the littles were able to hold their own weight and shimmy down the wall with the use of the rope.
But, of course, the babies needed to stay on momma's back. Safety, pumpkin, safety!
So here are the deets:
Stay: Escalante Yurts - glamping at it's best. Fresh breakfast included https://www.escalanteyurts.com/
Eat: Nemo's - Adventure drive-thru. http://www.feedtheadventure.com
DO: High Adventure Rentals - anything you could possibly need to traverse this terrain safely and while having a ton of fun http://www.highadventurerentals.com/