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Explore All the Things to Do in Escalante, Utah on a Road Trip from Zion

I love taking road trips from Zion National Park to explore all around southern Utah, and the trip from Zion to Escalante is especially spectacular! The town of Escalante is such a lovely little spot, and it’s the perfect base camp to explore Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

While the landscape is stunning, you’ll also find so many other things to do in Escalante, Utah that make it more than worth the trip, from a 5-star farm-to-table restaurant to a classic drive-in movie theater, and of course, some truly amazing hikes.

Zion National Park to Escalante, Utah Itinerary

I recently took a girls trip to Escalante, Utah, and it was such a great getaway! A road trip from Zion to Escalante would also be a wonderful vacation for families or couples. Here’s the itinerary of our 48 hour girls getaway and all our favorite things to do in Escalante, Utah including hiking to a waterfall, savoring a 5-star dinner, and even watching an old school drive-in movie.

How to Get From Zion National Park to Escalante, Utah

The drive from Zion to Escalante is about two and a half hours to three and a half hours depending where you start. If you start from Orderville (East side of Zion) it will be a one hour 45 minute drive and you’ll pass Bryce Canyon National Park on the way.

From Springdale it will be a two hour fourty-five minute drive. From Springdale head east on UT-9 through Zion to Mt. Carmel Junction and then go north on US-89. Eventually, you’ll take UT-12 east and keep going about 45 mins past the turnoff for Bryce.

The other way you can go from Zion National Park to Escalante if you are staying in Hurricane or Saint George is by going north on I-15 to US-89 to UT-12. This is a three hour drive.

Where to Stay: Ofland Escalante

We stayed at Ofland Escalante (formerly Yonder) and absolutely loved it! The location is ideal for exploring all the things to do in Escalante, Utah. Plus, the property has cabins, airstreams, and even campsites available, so you can choose the accommodation that’s right for what you need.

We spent the night in one of the Tiny Cabins which was perfect for two people. If I brought my kiddos for a family vacay, we would need something a little bigger like the Deluxe Cabin. The cabins feature glass walls or panoramic windows, so you get a stunning view of the landscape from inside.

Ofland Escalante also offers some pretty amazing amenities that make your stay extra special. The pool and jacuzzi were the absolutely perfect place to relax after a long day of hiking, and the drive-in movie theater on the property is just a blast!

I also really loved that they have an onsite food truck for when you get hungry, and they have meal kits that you can purchase at the front desk to cook on the grill on-site. This makes meal-planning very convenient…especially if you are traveling with kids and don’t want to have to wrangle them to go out.

Things to Do in Escalante Utah: Day 1

Since it’s a bit of a drive from Zion to Escalante, we kept day 1 of our girls trip pretty relaxed, with the highlight being an exceptional dinner.

Morning: Drive to Escalante & Check into Ofland

Starting slow since we’re getting up early tomorrow, we hit the road and made our way from Zion to Escalante. If starting from Springdale or East Zion/Orderville you can make a pit stop at The Shop Coffee Company for some coffee and a snack. (closed on Mondays). We love this little coffee shop!

You could also easily take a break to stretch your legs at Bryce Canyon National Park or hike the Mossy Cave Trail, which is on the way but outside the park. This trail is only a mile round trip, and it’s great with kids. Plus, you could stop for lunch at The Pizza Place right near the trailhead, which has something to please everyone.

Once you get to Ofland, you can check in, leave your luggage, and explore all the cool spaces to hang out on the property, including the outdoor lodge with a firepit.

Local tip: Check in isn’t until 3pm, but you can try to request an early check in if you’ll arrive earlier in the day.

Afternoon: Head Over to Devils Garden to Explore

After we settled in, we decided to go check out Devils Garden. It’s just a 25-minute drive from Escalante on Hole-in-the-Rock Road and is such a great place to explore and get some movement in after driving from Zion.

The rock formations here are incredible  hoodoos, domes, arches, and narrow passageways made of Navajo sandstone. This is an excellent place for photography, so bring your camera! And if you are with the kiddos, it’s pretty much a rock playground for them, and you might have to drag them away when it’s time to go.

The formations are super easy to get to, which is especially nice if you’re visiting in the middle of the day in the summer like we did. Even in the heat, walking around this spot is still doable because it isn’t really a hike…..just exploring. You stay close to the cars the whole time.

Evening: Take a Scenic Drive to Hell’s Backbone Grill for Dinner

For an amazing 5-star dinner in Escalante, we made a 45-minute drive to Hell’s Backbone Grill + Farm. If you are a foodie, believe me, this restaurant is a MUST. I have eaten here twice, and it has been an incredible experience both times.

Hell’s Backbone describes itself as serving “fanciful Four Corners cuisine: a blend of Western Range and Southwestern flavors,” featuring a seasonal selection of produce from the farm, farm fresh eggs, handmade breads, and locally-raised meat. They also offer plenty of delicious vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options.

Beyond the mouth-watering meal, it’s worth the trip to Hell’s Backbone because the drive is absolutely stunning along a section of Scenic Byway 12. Heading from Escalante to the town of Boulder, you’ll be on the “Hogsback” of the byway with hairpin turns and sheer drop offs into the canyons below. It’s really something special to witness out the window!

Local tip: Make sure to make a reservation, and also call ahead and ask to be seated outside on the covered patio…I wish we had done this!

Things to Do in Escalante Utah: Day 2

With Ofland Escalante as our convenient base camp, we were ready for a jam-packed day of fun things to do in Escalante, Utah on day 2.

Morning: Wake Up Early to Hike Calf Creek Falls

We wanted to get an early start on this day, so we grabbed breakfast sandwiches to go from the food truck on-site at Ofland Escalante. I loved how convenient it was so we didn’t need to make another stop, and it was so yummy! Then we had a 30 minute drive to our destination, the trailhead for Lower Calf Creek Falls.

Local tip: There is a $5/vehicle day use fee at the trailhead.

Lower Calf Creek Falls is a stunning 6-mile round trip hike to the most incredible waterfall, and it is at the top of the list of things to do in Escalante, Utah. As you make your way to the waterfall, you’ll pass a couple granaries, some beaver dams, and a large pictograph, so keep your eyes peeled. When you arrive at the waterfall, your jaw might literally drop as you watch the water flow more than 100 feet over the sandstone down to the pool below.

The hike is relatively easy with very little elevation gain over the course of the trail. However, you will be hiking in deep sand some of the time, and it gets very hot in the summer, which is why we went early to beat the heat. You can also cool off a little in the mist at the waterfall, and even jump in the pool and swim under the waterfall before hiking back out.

Note: Lower Calf Creek Falls will be temporarily closed for maintenance beginning July 8th, 2024. The closure is estimated to take up to two months, and you can check for updates on the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument site.

Lunch: Kiva Koffeehouse

After hiking Lower Calf Creek Falls, we had worked up an appetite, so we went to Kiva Koffeehouse for lunch. It’s just about 10 minutes from the trailhead, on the way back toward Ofland.

I’d heard about this place, and it definitely lived up to the hype! The coffee and food (it’s a constantly changing menu) were both delicious, and you can soak in the most amazing views while you eat.

Note: Kiva Koffeehouse is closed on Mondays & Tuesdays.

Afternoon: Cool Off & Chill in the Pool at Ofland

Next it was time to escape the desert heat by taking advantage of the amazing pool at Offland Escalante. The outdoor pool is oversized, so there’s plenty of room for splashing around or lounging in the poolside chairs. There’s also a hot tub, but that’s probably better for when the temps drop at night.

Dinner: Escalante Outfitter

When we were ready for dinner, we headed into town (just a few minutes away) to Escalante Outfitters. Don’t be fooled, while it’s a great little gear shop, they also have a restaurant with the best food.

We sat out on the patio for an al fresco dinner, and it was so lovely. I highly recommend the unique Big Horn pizza (olive tapenade, prosciutto, ham, goat cheese, and roasted tomato) and the apple pecan arugula salad…….seriously so amazing!

Evening: Drive-In Movie at Ofland

For evening entertainment, we headed back to Ofland Escalante for a screening at their drive-in movie theater. They show movies every night of the week when the sun starts to go down, and you don’t need your own car, because a bunch of classic cars are parked in front of the screen to be your seats. You can grab snacks at the concession stand, including free popcorn to make it a true movie experience!

More Things to Do in Escalante, Utah

Honestly, this itinerary is just a taste of all the awesome things to do in Escalante, Utah. If you have more time to explore this area, here are are a few other cool places to check out:

Petrified Forest State Park

Just down the road from downtown Escalante (and Ofland Escalante) is Petrified Forest State Park. You might spot ancient petrified wood and lava flows on the trails, but the main attraction here is Wide Hollow Reservoir, where you can swim, paddleboard, kayak, and fish.

Escalante River Trailhead

This trailhead off of UT-12 offers access to upper Escalante River canyon and several easy to moderate trails for exploring. Take a short hike to see the 100 Hands Pictograph or a slightly longer hike to Natural Bridge Arch.

Zebra Canyon

Get your slot canyon fix at Zebra Canyon in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. It’s an easy hike to this slot canyon, which narrows down and can be a bit tricky in sections if you’re not used to navigating this terrain. But it’s non-technical and totally worth it to see the stunning striped sandstone in the canyon!

Whether you're planning a girls' getaway, a family vacation, or a romantic escape, a road trip from Zion to Escalante promises an unforgettable adventure filled with natural wonders, delicious dining, and unique experiences.

Happy Adventuring,




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