Close to Campus: Escalante Natural Bridge and Calf Creek Falls

Escalante Natural Bridge and the Calf Creek Falls trails, located in Escalante State Park, might not be as close to campus as Zion National Park, but they aren’t any less picturesque. Both trails are roughly three hours from SUU and are primarily used for hiking, walking, and nature trips.

Calf Creek Falls is made up of upper and a lower pools. The Lower Falls are more popular, as a 130 foot waterfall with a swimming hole are located at the end of the trail. The trail head is also located only one mile from the Escalante River Trail head, which includes several other hikes.


The Upper Falls trail head is located two and one-half miles north of the Lower Falls trail head. Reviews on give the Upper Falls a four and a half, out of five, star review. The beginning of the path is completely exposed and has a steep decline toward the waterfall.

Both falls offer swimming holes for people looking to get out of the sun. Temperature within the Canyons Unit in early October still get into the 80s, meaning that a midday swim is possible. Although the Lower Falls, a five and half mile round trip hike, is more popular, the Upper Falls provide an easier hike being roughly a two mile round trip hike.

The Escalante Natural Bridge is located within the Escalante River Trail head and is found only a mile downstream from the Lower Calf Creek Falls. 

The Natural Bridge trail is four miles round trip and unlike Calf Creek Falls, has very little elevation gain. The marked path traverses along side the river for the majority of the hike. However, the river is safe for trekking for those looking to stay in, or close to, the water.

The Sandstone cliffs drip with a variety of colors and are covered in several alcoves, the great of which is the slick rock dome which coined the hike’s name. The beaten path and river continue further down the canyon if the arch is not the final destination.

Camping is available at the Lower Calf Creek Falls as well as several other areas within the Canyons Unit. Campsites are also available in the nearby town of Escalante.

Both hiking areas are subject to closures due to weather later in the year. To learn more about Escalante State Park, visit

Story By: Kurt Meacham
Photos By: Kurt Meacham