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Hole-in-the-Rock Road, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
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|Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument > The East > Hole-in-the-Rock Road
Photographs: 9 views along the Hole-in-the-Rock Road.
QTVR: Panorama of Dance Hall Rock: preview, full size. Panorama of slickrock around Davis Gulch: preview, full size.
The Road: The unpaved Hole-in-the-Rock starts 4.5 miles east of Escalante on UT 12 and reaches the edge of Glen Canyon after 55.5 miles. The first 15 miles, as far as the Garfield/Kane county line, are almost as good as a regular highway, then the surface deteriorates somewhat and is often severely graded but is fine for normal cars until at least mile 38. After here are 6 steep dry wash crossings, tributaries of Fortymile and Fiftymile Creeks, that may be a problem but still the surface should usually be passable until 5 miles from the southern end; the last section after the Davis Gulch crossing is very rough and for high clearance, 4WD vehicles only. The scenery along most of the journey is little changing and not too spectacular as to the west stretch the high, layered 50 mile long Straight Cliffs while the land on the other side is mostly a flat, grassy plain - the many fantastic canyons are hidden from view, reached only by various side roads that lead east towards the Escalante River. Towards the end though, the terrain is more undulating and dramatic as the cliffs become closer to the Escalante River - the side canyons are more numerous and extend further west, and the grassy plateau is gradually replaced by vast areas of slickrock domes, which are best viewed from an overlook just before Davis Gulch. At mile 46, the road enters the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
Trailheads: All major trailheads and canyons along the Hole-in-the-Rock road are signposted, and the upper section is well-travelled during the summer months. Important side tracks include the routes to Harris Wash (mile 11), the Egypt Bench/Twentyfive Mile Wash (mile 17), Early Weed Bench (mile 24), Dry Fork of Coyote Gulch (mile 26) and Red Well (mile 30), one of two starting points for a hike down Coyote Gulch.
Devils Garden: Apart from the grey cliffs that border the road - the second of the four main steps of the Grand Staircase, there are only two other specific places of interest along the route. First is Devils Garden, 12 miles from UT 12. Not to be confused with the other formation of that name in Arches National Park, this is a collection of large eroded rocks, quite similar to Goblin Valley with fewer formations on a bigger scale. There is a picnic area, a short loop path and two interesting arches (Metate and Mano) a little way to the south.
Dance Hall Rock: The second location is Dance Hall Rock, 24 miles further, by which point traffic on the road is much less - the Hurricane Wash/Coyote Gulch trailhead at mile 33 marks the end of the most frequently travelled section. The rock is a large mound of Navajo sandstone at the edge of quite an impressive outcrop formed of several hundred meters of undulating, striated slickrock with cliffs, ravines, water pockets and eroded, sheer-sided cavities - a nice place to explore for an hour or so. Several large overhangs provided good sheltered campsites for the original Hole-in-the-Rock expedition, who rested here while preparing for the route ahead, which became much harder from here southwards.
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