Fall Colors on Full Display at Calf Creek

The full spectrum of autumn colors is on display at Calf Creek, as of Oct. 19. The tributary runs through just one of many canyons in the area near Escalante that is seeing high visitation during this time of year. 

Perhaps one of the most well known features of the area is Lower Calf Creek Falls, which is 6 miles round-trip from the trailhead at the Calf Creek Recreation Area campground.

20191018_154700The creek begins as seeps and springs several miles up the canyon, but culminates in an amazing 126-foot spectacle that cascades down the cliffside and continues to flow year-round south towards the Escalante River.

Hanging shrubs and foliage line the semi-circular alcove which the high-volume falls pour into, and a moderate swimming hole beckons hikers who have traversed three miles of sandy trail to reach this point.

20191018_150307The creek is the home to many species of wildlife, including beavers that contribute to making the area a marshy wetland, further facilitating amazing plant and animal growth in the fertile ecosystem.

Blazing orange and yellow leaves from river birch, reds and browns from gambel oak, and the red, white, scarlet and orange Kayenta and Navajo sandstone formations form a natural autumn palette that further enhance the beauty of the area during the fall season.

The canyon was also once the home of the Fremont people, who inhabited the area from 700-1300 A.D. Remnants of their culture are visible in ancient stone granaries and pictographs or rock paintings created with a red pigment. 

The Bureau of Land Management manages recreation in this area, located in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, just under three hours from Cedar City. 20191018_172303

The campground is typically at full occupancy during the fall season according to campground hosts. Interpretive guides and a map are provided at the campground facilities. 

20191018_140125A day-use fee of $5.00 per vehicle or a national parks pass is required for entry and parking may be difficult to find, as many vehicles resort to parking on shoulders along the highway. 

The hike to the lower falls and back to the parking lot takes around 3-4 hours to complete. 

Calf Creek Falls Map

Story and Photos by Reyce Knutson
Trail Map Courtesy BLM