Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument is a massive area of wild, harsh, and beautiful land. This area of well over 1 million acres holds some of the wildest and most pristine wilderness that the Lower 48 states have to offer. One could easily spend a lifetime in this region, exploring the infinite amount of canyons and drainages that all have their unique character. The national monument is bordered by the Glen Canyon National Recreation area to the south, Lake Powell to the south, and Capitol Reef National Park to the east, making this a truly wild and vast area that is capable of hosting backpacking trips of a month in duration or longer. If you are a true lover of wilderness and exploration, look no farther than Southern Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
The Canyons of the Escalante region of the monument is where the vast majority of the hiking and exploring opportunities await. This region is made up of the Escalante River and all of its drainages. The Escalante River Corridor is like nowhere else on earth, with so many canyons and opportunities for exploration that it can be a bit hard to decide where to go. Apart from Coyote Gulch, you can expect to see very few people in this region, and you must be 100% self-reliant.
The Silver Falls/Choprock Canyon loop is a very remote, fully off-trail loop that takes place on the eastern side of the Escalante River. The west side of the river, while still very remote, has Hole-In-The-Rock Road, which increases visitation, even though the majority of people on that side go to Coyote Gulch or Peek-a-boo slot canyons. Getting to the trailhead for Silver Falls Creek, where this loop starts, requires a vehicle with four-wheel drive and solid clearance.
Start at the trailhead for Silver Falls Creek, which is really just the end of a road. Hike down the obvious canyon and look for small footpaths on the side of each bend that make hiking down canyon a bit faster. This route is entirely off trail, but there are a lot of small, hard to notice footpaths in the area. Hike all the way down Silver Falls Creek, and take in the scenery as it gets tighter and taller toward the Escalante River. It is about 6 to 8 miles to the Escalante River depending on where you park your car. While you can camp anywhere, Harris Wash is directly across the Escalante and provides amazing scenery and camping opportunities as well as slightly better water than the Escalante. Camp in Harris Wash and get ready for a big second day.
Day two requires about 4.5 miles of hiking along the Escalante. These miles are incredibly slow. The Escalante is lined with tamarisk, which can be impossible to bushwack through. There are footpaths and cattle paths in this area, but it can be very easy to lose the trail. Take your time on this part, as you will cross the Escalante numerous times, which can be relatively deep (upper thigh/waist). Hike down the Escalante to Choprock Canyon and immediately begin ascending Choprock. Choprock Canyon is best known for its canyoneering routes, but the main stem of the canyon can be backpacked with no technical gear. The highlight of this canyon, and the entire loop in general, is the extended section of narrows, with the narrowest section being no more than 6 feet wide. Choprock Canyon is spectacular. Hike up Choprock as far as you wish, and find a good camp with water.
Day three is less exciting. Hike up Choprock Canyon, which becomes wider as you ascend. Once you top out, there is a network of old, shut down jeep roads that will loop you back to Silver Falls Creek, where the car is parked. Please note that this loop would be very difficult without some sort of GPS app, like Gaia GPS. Without Gaia, it would have been difficult to find Choprock Canyon, and even harder to locate the old jeep roads that complete the loop. A paper map is essential as well, as Gaia GPS is not a good tool to see the region from a larger scale. Expect to see absolutely no people on this hike; there is no phone service miles from the trailhead. This is as remote as it gets in the Lower 48. This loop is recommended for hearty backpackers with a sense for adventure and love of route finding.