Highway 89 North
Paria Rimrocks - Toadstool Trail
Explore the Paria Rimrocks on this moderate 1.5 mile round trip hike leading to hoodoos and balanced rocks. Drive north on highway 89 from the Glen Canyon Dam. Turn into the dirt parking area on the right just past Utah mile marker 19. Slip through the hikers-gate, sign the register, and head up the wash. When you think you are at the end, guess again; scramble up the trail obstacle and find your way to the hoodoo garden. Maps are available at the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Visitor Center in Big Water.
Moderate: Driving time 30 minutes; dirt trail– some scrambling required over trail obstacles 1.5 miles round trip
Paria Movie Set, Pahreah Cemetery, and Pahreah Town Site are located 5 miles off of Utah Highway 89 at approximately mile marker 30.5 or about 39 miles from the Carl Hayden Visitor Center. A five mile dirt road leads you to the structures and artifacts that tell the story of many former inhabitants who settled or visited the area; and of a once ideal Hollywood movie set for some of our most memorable western films. Both Paria and Pahreah are pronounced the same – rhymes with Maria. The Paria River runs slow and muddy most of the time but occasionally can exceed its banks. Use caution, but feel free to go ahead as this river will beckon you strongly to cross it and walk upstream or in stream to get a stronger sense of the area’s rich history - an area which people once called their home.
Easy Driving time: 45 minutes; hike time: 30-60 minutes
Twenty-seven miles north of Carl Hayden Visitor Center, near milepost 18 on Hwy 89, the Cottonwood Road winds 46 miles north through the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to Cannonville, Utah, connecting with Hwy 12. Travelling north, the road crosses through diverse scenery: the badlands that look like moonscape, by the Paria River with cottonwood trees, up and over the Cockscomb, the stone monuments of Grosvenor Arch and Kodachrome Basin State Park, eventually leading to Hwy 12. Hiking opportunities are numerous and include Hackberry Canyon, Yellow Mountain, Cottonwood Canyon Narrows, the Cockscomb, and Grosvenor Arch. Hike for an hour or take a longer hike - the choice is yours. There are books dedicated to different hikes along the Cottonwood Road. It may help to read ahead if you want to do some serious hiking. The Cottonwood Road is not passable when wet. Check road conditions before travelling.
Easy to Moderate to Difficult
Many established trails
Bucktank Draw and Birthday Arch
Located off Utah Highway 89 at mile marker 93⁄4 or 17.3 miles from Carl Hayden Visitor Center, this pleasantly simple, easy to moderate hike in a sandy and partial bedrock sandstone draw leads you south to a box canyon, a large arch and a small sized slot canyon. Park your car on the south side of Hwy 89 just at the west end of the metal railing and head down the sandy slope through the gate into the draw. The arch is located approximately 1.5 miles from the road snuggled in along the western cliffs. When you spot the arch, you will need to traverse 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 mile west over sandy uphill slopes. To get directly under the arch requires caution as you scramble up and over loose rocky ledges. Getting to the top requires work and backtracking until you have found a doable way up. The slot canyon is on the opposite side of the canyon fairly easy to spot from the arch. It is worth the cross country trek to see this very narrow, short slot.
Easy to moderate; Driving time from Carl Hayden Visitor Center- 20 minutes, hike time: approx 3 hours
Blue Pools - Wash/Arch and Slot
The Blue Pools area is located 10.3 miles north of the Carl Hayden Visitor Center. Turn south (left) between Utah milepost 3 and 4 onto an unmarked dirt road. Approximately 50 feet off the road is a metal gate which you will have to open. Drive through, close the gate, and park.
The Wash and Arch: From the parking area, turn left (away from the highway) and follow the wash about 1 mile. Near the end, the wash will climb up and connect to a dirt road. Follow this around the corner and look up. You will see the arch. This is a very sandy walk with no shade. 1-2 hours.
The Slot Canyon: You must have ropes and rapelling experience to access the slot canyon! From the parking area, turn right (towards the highway). Enter the slot from the top. About 20 feet down is an 8 foot drop requiring a rope. The next drop is about 40 feet further and is deeper. The slot takes you through Entrada Sandstone about 1 mile one way. 1-2 hours. Moderate;
Driving time from Carl Hayden Visitor Center- 15 minutes, hike time: 1-2 hours for wash/arch; 1-2 hours for slot
To get to Starlight arch, drive 7.6 miles north of the Carl Hayden Visitor Center. Turn left on an unmarked dirt road. Follow it past a corral an drive it for another 0.25 mile. On the right is a mesa. The moderate hike to the top will lead you to the arch. As this is an inverted arch, you will be standing on top of and looking down through it at the same time. Enjoy the great views of the surrounding area as well.
Moderate; Driving time from Carl Hayden Visitor Center- 10 minutes, hike time: approx 2 hours