Explorations Along the Grand Staircase
Grand- Staircase-Escalante National Monument is a great area in South Central Utah in between some gorgeous National Parks and a sprinkling of State Parks and other outdoor recreation areas. Last fall we went to the half near Escalante and decided this spring was the time to check out the Grand Staircase part of the National Monument.This part is located in between Cannonville and Kanab, both small Utah towns. Below is a map of the entire monument area provided by the Bureau of Land Management, also called the BLM.
Now the great part of the Grand Staircase is that the whole area is BLM land and therefore allows camping everywhere and follows a "leave no trace" policy. This is important and we were sad to have found a plastic water bottle and broken glass from earlier users where we chose to camp. The BLM also asks for you to use previously disturbed area to camp. (i.e. look for a spot that already has a fire pit) The spot we ended up at was right off Skutumpah Rd a few miles before the location of the hike we were planning on doing the next day. I do get all giddy when you find a campsite that your dogs can be off leash at and away from other people. Not that I don't love people but in the desert I do enjoy the solidarity. The view from this overlook we camped at was absolutely gorgeous!
As far as camp food we have been really good about making most everything ahead of time. So for dinner we kept it easy and had some brisket Thomas had smoked the day before we left. The second night was a pot roast Thomas had made and brought down with us. It was delicious and completed by having bean and pea-pods cooked into it and served over baked potatoes. However, my favorite camp meal can be found at breakfast time and are what I like to call breakfast boats. I put in the tiny tin foil pans some partly cooked ingredients including hashbrowns/homefries, onions, green pepper. Then some cooked ground sausage and topped with salsa. I pre crack my eggs and store them in old coffee creamer containers so that they are easy to just pour into the boats in the morning. Then just place on some hot coals or a camp grill and in about 20-30 minutes you will have a breakfast fit for a Queen.
Kodachrome Basin State Park is nearby and accessible along the paved Kodachrome Rd. We went during the day to do a hike called Panorama Trail inside the park and check it out. The fee per car to enter the park is $8. There are also camping options right there inside the park with two campgrounds to choose from, Bryce View and Basin Campground. Group sites are also available and both them and individual campsites can be reserved in advance. Basin campground standard sites are $19/night while full hook up sites are $28/night. Bryce view campground is the least expensive at $16/night. The park offers just six hiking trails though most of them a very short. Hiking all six would only total 11.5 miles so it is possible to see the whole park in a day while still getting to see other sites outside of the park on the same trip.
Our hikes that we did were both very different from one another. We spent the morning in a great narrows area called Willis Creek and the late afternoon hiking the open and sun soaked Panorama Trail at Kodachrome Basin State Park. My only things that I would have changed would have been to hike the Panorama Trail at a cooler time of the day so we could have completed at least the 3 mile loop, if not the 6 mile one. The other change would have been to do the Willis Creek hike as a loop with Bull Valley Gorge. Some other nearby hiking options that did not make the list included: Cottonwood Narrows, Grosvenor Arch, Round Valley Draw and Lick Wash. Next trip down we will try some of these out. Let me know in the comment if there are any hikes in the Grand Staircase area that you recommend!
Maya loves getting to take her Ruffwear Approach Pack on hikes. It has two pockets on each saddlebag for storing all of a dog's essentials like water, poop bags and a leash. We have the bright orange so that it is easier to spot Maya from a distance. These packs are great and hold up to even the most rugged conditions. We tested it out in a slot canyon with water along the trail and it did great getting splashed on.