If you're looking for a place to camp while visiting Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, then Escalante Petrified Forest State Park is a great base! We spent a couple nights here as we explored the area and loved staying at this campground! Located near the town of Escalante, just off of Utah's Scenic Hwy 12, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park is situated along the shores of Wide Hollow Reservoir. In addition to the access to Wide Hollow Reservoir, the park also offers some great trails through the petrified forests providing some up close views to the unique petrified wood found in the area.
Escalante Petrified Forest State Park was a great family destination! The campsite themselves include a covered picnic area which is nice for the hotter summer months when the heat can be super intense - we happened to be camping in September and the heat was not an issue with a cold snap that was passing thru. Our nighttime temperatures were just above freezing! Our site offered a great view out towards the Wide Hollow Reservoir and the campground included great bathroom facilities complete with clean hot showers. In the summer months, the Wide Hollow Reservoir can be used for kayaking, boating or swimming - canoe rentals are even available during select months.
One of the highlights of visiting Escalante Petrified Forest State Park is to hike along the one mile Nature Trail. Climbing a quick 250 feet at the beginning of the trail - you will be greeted to a wonderful view out over the blue waters of Wide Hollow Reservoir. Numbered posts will guide you thru the trail and point out different examples of petrified wood along the way. Climbing up the steep trail you will pass thru a forest of pinon pine and juniper trees filled with chunks of petrified wood before reaching the top of the trail. At the top follow the loop to the right and you will eventually come to a great view looking out over the town of Escalante. Looking at the colorful chunks of petrified wood, it is amazing to think you are looking at the remains of something that is millions of years old! It is believed that there are over 5 millions tons of petrified wood located throughout Escalante Petrified Forest State Park. Created over millions of years, the logs are the fossilized remains of trees that were buried in volcanic ash and over time the tree's organic makeup was slowly replaced by minerals that eventually left behind what we see today. For those looking for a longer hike - you can extend the one mile Nature Trail by adding the the additional 0.75 mile loop Sleeping Rainbow Trail which will provide additional views of the various petrified wood in the area.
GRAND STAIRCASE-ESCALANATE NATIONAL MONUMENT
A few miles up the road from Escanalte Petrified Forest State Park you will find the Escalante Interagency Visitor Center. Stop in for a quick visit to learn more about the area and plan your exploration of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. This is a great place to start your visit when exploring the vast Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument as you can read through the informational exhibits and grab a map before you head out to explore! To read my blog on what to do and see within Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument - Click Here.
Overall, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park is a great campground for those looking to spend a few nights in the Escalante area! We loved the wonderful campground and hiking trails available in the park and the easy access for day tripping into Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The Escalante area of Utah is a beautiful, rugged landscape just waiting to be explored! The couple days we spent here was just the tip and I hope to return someday and explore even more around this stunning area!