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Average Gradient
18.66 ft/mi (3.53 m/km)
Days
4
Most difficult rapid
II
Distance
45.00 mi (72.42 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Escalante area is one of the most intact and extensive wild areas in the lower 48 states, with countless opportunities for true off-trail exploration. Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument is a whopping 1.8 million acres in size, with the adjacent Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (1.2 million acres) and Capitol Reef National Park at 241,000 acres. The Escalante River was the last river of its size to be named in the lower 48 states, and the Henry Mountains to the east were the last named mountain range. This region of the Southwest is one of the best for losing yourself among towering red rock cliffs and canyons.

The Escalante River flows for 81 miles south of the Highway 12 bridge and into Lake Powell. Every single mile is wild and has no interactions with pavement or year-round facilities. Floating the Escalante is unique in that it can only be comfortably done on good snow years in the surrounding mountains. The Escalante is a small river and only swells to floatable size during April and May of good snow years, so the timing for this river must be flexible. It is almost unanimous among people who have floated this river that packrafts are the vessel of choice. Packrafts work for two reasons: They are small enough for this river, and they can be hiked out. Every single section or option for floating this river involves hiking, usually including the arduous trek up Crack-In-The-Wall.

The most popular option for floating the Escalante is the 40-mile section between the Egypt Trailhead and Crack-In-The-Wall, due to the amount of time it takes (usually 4 days). It could easily take 7+ days to do the whole river from Highway 12, and 2 weeks plus to continue down into Lake Powell and out Hole-In-The-Rock. 

For setting up a shuttle and renting Packrafts, there are several options in the town of Escalante. Utah Canyon Outdoors is a great one-stop shop for both. The drive to Crack-In-The-Wall is long and rough, and a four-wheel-drive car is recommended.

For those looking to packraft the Escalante River, expect to bump a lot of rocks and to be as sandy as humanly possible. Look to camp at side canyons, as they typically have water that is a lot less sandy than the Escalante. Always let someone know of your plans and expected take-out date, as there is absolutely no cell phone service in the Escalante River canyon.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring

Parking Pass

None

Motors Allowed

No

Difficulty

Easy / Class A

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Amazing scenery. Solitude. Pristine wilderness.

Cons

Low water. Best on good snow years.

Pets allowed

Allowed

Put-in location (lat, long coordinates)

37.59308, -111.21838

Take-out location (lat, long coordinates)

37.42788, -110.98093

Address

UT
United States

Features

Sensitive Habitat
Backcountry camping
Native artifacts
Wildlife
Geologically significant
Big vistas

Access

Hike-in

Typically multi-day

Yes

Shuttle required

Yes

Portage required

Yes

Overall difficulty

I
II

Suitable for

Kayaks
Inflatable Kayaks
Rafts

Permit required

No

Prone to wood

Intermittant

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
Glen Powell National Recreation Area

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