I was shocked the other day when I found out that I’d never done a post on Hole in the Rock, at the end of Hole in the Rock Road in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (one of my favorite parks ever). Hole in the Rock is a pretty incredible place, especially if you’re up to some scrambling and have 4×4. The first I’m totally in for, the second, well, I don’t own a vehicle with 4×4. But high clearance will get you pretty close (depending on road conditions), so I can get to Hole in the Rock, by hook or by crook!
Actually, that was one of the great things about switching from a station wagon to a van almost 15 years ago. We switched only because we’d well outgrown the space in the wagon, but we immediately fell in love with our “new” (to us) full-sized van. Not only did it have the space we needed, but it drove easier and more reliably, we could sleep in it, and it had high clearance, which meant we could have many more adventures than the station wagon could have dreamed of. But I digress…
Hole in the Rock was blasted by Mormon pioneers who couldn’t get down the sheer walls of Glen Canyon. The “hole” is slowly filling in with debris and rock falls, but it’s still passible for those who are willing to do a bit of scrambling (and have a friend to help them if they come to a place where that’s necessary). That said, I got my mom down and back up it, so it can’t be that bad!
The first time we visited Hole in the Rock, we were able to drive all the way to the end of the road. The second time, however, we got to a place about a mile or two from the end that was too sandy / rocky for our two wheel drive van, so we ended up walking the rest of the way – a hot, dry walk in May.
Still, there is reward at the end. It’s cool to be able to look down the hole into Lake Powell. And, after scrambling to the bottom, we decided it was so hot we’d just go swimming in the lake (our clothes dried well before we got back to the van…but I’m sure my clothes will never be the same, having been bleached by the sun in the process!)
Another, sobering, discovery at the bottom is just how far Lake Powell’s water levels have dropped. The high water mark (end of the white rock) is many, many feet above your head, and it was much lower the first time we visited than the second, for some reason (maybe they’d had some rain?).
When is the best time to go? Well, that depends on what you’d like to see. The first time we visited, we came about sunset. The Hole in the Rock was entirely in shadow, which made scrambling the vague trail a lot easier (and more fun), but the lake was in shadow…until you got up a ways, at which point the photography opportunities were excellent! So for sun, try midday; for good photos of the lake, try late afternoon.
Overall, I’d recommend Hole in the Rock to anyone who has time on their hands (Hole in the Rock Road is loooonnnnnngggggggg) and has 4×4 or is willing to walk a good distance. Bicycles are allowed on the road, so that’s another consideration.
For more about my favorite hikes in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, click here.
Round Trip Trail Length: About a half a mile
Facilities: None. There is no water on the road, and the only restroom is at the Devil’s Garden Trailhead.
Would I go 100 miles out of my way for this?
Key GPS Coordinates for Hole in the Rock
Beginning of Hole in the Rock Road (Highway 12): 37.727665N / -111.531438W (37° 43′ 39.594″ / -111° 31′ 53.1762″)
Parking area at the end of the Hole in the Rock Road: 37.256515N / -110.901037W (37° 15′ 23.454″ / 37° 15′ 23.454″)
Top of Hole in the Rock: 37.256467N / -110.900133W (37° 15′ 23.2812″ / -110° 54′ 0.4782″)
Lake Powell (approximate): 37.253893N / -110.894266W (37° 15′ 14.0142″ / -110° 53′ 39.3576″)
Getting to Hole in the Rock
Take Highway 12 east of the town of Escalante for about 5 miles; turn right onto Hole in the Rock Road. Drive 55.5 miles on Hole in the Rock Road to its very end at a small, circular area where you can park. Be sure to stock up on water, gas, and food before beginning this trek; it’s a long one with absolutely no services along the way. You won’t even see a restroom, except at Devil’s Garden. There are also a lot of really cool hiking opportunities along the Hole in the Rock Road, though, including Neon Canyon, the Dry Fork Slots (and part 2), Broken Bow Arch, and Coyote Gulch.
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Mon Jan 22
Plentiful sunshine. High around 40F. Winds SE at 5 to 10 mph.
Tue Jan 23
Sunny skies. High 43F. Winds light and variable.
Wed Jan 24
Sunny skies. High around 45F. Winds light and variable.
Thu Jan 25
Some clouds in the morning will give way to mainly sunny skies for the afternoon. High 47F. Winds SSW at 10 to 15 mph.
Fri Jan 26
Plentiful sunshine. High near 40F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph.