Lower Calf Creek Falls: An Extraordinary Hike Not to Miss in Utah

I’m glad that I received the wrong information abut the Lower Calf Creek Falls Trail before we did it.

If I had known it was 6 miles return with an elevation of 500 feet, we may have reconsidered the Lower Calf Creek Falls with the kids. I read that it was mostly flat and only 5 miles return.

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Lower Calf Creek Falls trail

500 feet is not a great deal in elevation, but it’s enough when hiking with kids for 6 miles.

And since this adventure, those same 6 kids completed a 15 mile hike with an elevation of over 4,000 feet in North Cascades National Park!!! This was when the world of possibility began to open up for them.

So don’t let that 500m elevation gain turn you away.

Strap on your hiking shoes and pack your swimmers, this is one of the best hikes in Utah and 100% worth the effort.

The Lower Calf Creek Falls is in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Southern Utah.

It’s 1.9 million acres of canyons, cliffs and rugged landscapes offering an abundance of adventures like hiking, off-roading, camping, and scenic drives.

It’s east of Bryce Canyon and southwest of Moab. We definitely recommend incorporating this region into your Utah road trip. It was one of our favorite places we visited in Utah. 

The famous scenic byway Highway 12 runs through here and is spectacular, which is where you will find the trailhead for the Lower Calf Creek Falls, one of the best things to do in Grand Staircase Escalante.

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The Lower Calf Creek Falls trail is not your typical Utah hike.

For most of the journey it is.

You’ll follow the trail through the valley, which is enclosed by towering cliffs of red, pink, orange and yellow – that is oh so typical of Utah, the most colorful place in the world.

Be sure to look down and see how the sand changes from deep red, to purple, magenta, orange and yellow and look up to the towering cliff faces

I think at marker number six you’ll see some ancient pictographs on the wall – three huge figurines that look like warriors guarding you as you walk.

The trail turns from hardened sand to soft beach sand as you walk, adding an extra layer of challenge to the walk. It’s not that bad, you probably won’t notice it on the way there, but you will on the way back once those legs start to tire at about mile 4.

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Pretty sandy trail

At times on the hike you’ll walk through shady low scrub forest beside the creek, which you don’t get too much of a view of until near the end of the walk as it comes closer to the trail.

The creek is shallow and narrow but has some of the clearest water you’ll ever seen.

It reminded me so much of Fraser Island, an island in Australia which is said to have the cleanest water in the world.

Apart from the small bamboo forest you walk through, the last part of this walk reminded me so much of Australia. It felt like I was walking down a beach track.

Lower Calf Creek Falls, Utah

Lower Calf Creek Falls Grand Staircase-Escalante, Utah
Lower Calf Creek Falls

Then we walked into the gorgeous oasis at the end was where the Lower Calf Creek Falls plummets 126-foot down over the rock face hitting the pool of water down below in an upside down Y formation.

A sandy beach framed it and the creek began off to the side with lovely green trees covering it giving it almost a tropical feel.

Allow yourself plenty of time for this walk so you can sit for awhile and soak up the tranquility of this cool green tropical land in the middle of the Utah desert.

We had to get back as our friends were coming to meet us at our boondocking spot for the evening.

The cooler temps here kind of encouraged us to make a move home anyway.

Lower Calf Creek Falls reminded me so much of Emma’s Gorge in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia. It too was reached by a long and interesting hike.

The water was equally freezing, but at Emma’s Gorge the outside temperatures baking enough to encourage us to get some relief.

There was a breeze blowing at Lower Calf Creek Falls and the absence of the sun made it so much colder than what we experienced walking in.

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Lower Calf Creek Falls

I was impressed with how well the kids handled the Lower Calf Creek Falls hike. They even spent most of the walk back chasing each other and wresting, their boundless energy inspiring.

I was wiped out but on cloud nine as it was such a pretty and inspirational walk and by far one of my favorite hikes in Utah, if not the USA.

The tired legs did not know what they were in for the day after this adventure, when we found ourselves in Spooky and Peek-a-Boo canyon, another hike and adventure in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and Utah you don’t want to miss.

There is a 13-site campground here and a day use picnic area. The campsite looks gorgeous an I’d love to stay here under the shade of the trees nestled along side Calf Creek. Its’ a first come first served basis so good luck!

Video Lower Calf Creek Falls

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Where to stay in Grand Staircase-Escalante

Boondocking

We camped for free at the beginning of the Hole-in-the-road. There was loads of space and beautiful scenery.

escalante boondocking

Escalante Hotel

Slot Canyons Inn Bed and Breakfast: Check here for current prices

Airbnb Escalante

From cowboy cabins, to wild west retreats and vacation homes, there are 56 rentals available on Airbnb in Escalante. Check availability and prices here.

Car & RV Rental

If you don’t have your own car, check here for rental car options from various Utah locations

  • You may wish to rent your own RV, campervan or motorhome.  Check out RV share

Tours to consider for the Grand Escalante Region

  • G Adventures: Hiking Utah’s Big 5 includes Grand Escalante
  • G Adventures: Hiking the best of the West’s National Park includes Grand Escalante

Places to visit near Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument

  • 12 Don’t-Miss Things to Do in Capitol Reef National Park Utah
  • Ultimate Guide – 14 Things To Do in Zion National Park (+ How To Plan a Visit
  • Hike the Exciting Red Reef Trail St George (there’s a waterfall climb)
  • 16 Brilliant Things to do in Moab, Utah (Adventure + Natural Beauty)
  • Magical & Unique – Goblin Valley State Park, Utah Is Remote But Worth It
  • Peek-a-Boo and Spooky Canyons, Grand Escalante – our favorite US road trip hike

More tips on Utah & American Southwest

  • 20 Incredible Places to Visit in Utah For Your Utah Road Trip
  • Don’t Miss These 11 Amazing Things to do in Arches National Park Utah (for 1st time visitors)
  • 14 Epic Adventures in the American Southwest Not To Miss On Your USA Travels!
  • 8 Helpful Tips for Planning a Trip to the Grand Canyon With Kids
  • 36 Hour Itinerary – What to Do in Tucson, Arizona (+ where to eat, drink, and stay!
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