The Bad Day At Dry Gulch
Coyote Gulch is a tributary of the Escalante River located in one of the most remote areas of the US near Escalante, Utah. The majority of the gulch is part of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, while the lower section reaches into Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
The Bad Day at Dry Gulch
Coyote Gulch and the area surrounding it is a remote and rugged place. Please help keep it that way! Do not carve or vandalize the rock or leave behind trash. Camp only on previously disturbed land and use waste disposal bags to carry out any human waste. Fires are NOT permitted inside the gulch.
When we started researching our excursion into Coyote Gulch, we were a little confused about what, exactly, a gulch is. How is it different than a slot canyon, or normal canyon for that matter? A gulch is somewhere between a slot canyon and a normal canyon (think the Grand Canyon).
Whereas slot canyons are very narrow and usually dry, a gulch is wider and typically has some flowing water. However, it is not as wide as a more expansive canyon carved by a roaring river. Coyote Gulch has high rock walls on each side and a delicate, ankle-deep stream meandering down its center.
For afar, the landscape may look like an endless expanse of barren red hills. But take a peak below the surface, and there are countless hidden gems to explore. Slot canyons, beautiful gulches, waterfalls, arches and unique rock formations await those who come to explore Grand Staircase Escalante. In all of our travels across the US, this is easily one of our favorite places!
PRO: Most direct route into Coyote Gulch and to Jacob Hamblin Arch.CON: Requires repel into the gulch using a rope, which may be frightening for those with fear of heights.
With one night in Coyote Gulch, we recommend camping near Jacob Hamblin Arch. There are plenty of awesome campsites in this area, and you can set up camp and continue exploring farther down the gulch without your packs if desired.
Perhaps one of the most exciting aspects of the Coyote Gulch backpacking trip is that there are so many landmarks to see along the way! The map below displays the location of each of the top 5 sights within the gulch.
The most popular sight in Coyote Gulch (and for good reason!), Jacob Hamblin Arch towers over the gulch at 150 feet wide and 100 feet tall. The sun reflects off the beautiful pink-orange rock making it feel like the arch itself is illuminated.
About 2 miles past Coyote Natural Bridge, the gulch opens up into a section of huge boulders that require a bit of scrambling to navigate. This is one of the most beautiful sections of the gulch, in our opinion!
Some of the best sites in the gulch are just after Jacob Hamblin Arch. There are also a few nice spots just before the arch and near the Coyote Natural Bridge. Once you pass Cliff Falls and Cliff Arch, the gulch narrows and finding a spot to camp becomes more challenging.
Compact towel PackTowel lightweight towel This compact lightweight towel packs down small, making it great for carrying on backpacking trips and perfect for drying off after walking through the gulch.
A good day to hike Mann Gulch. Although not as obsessed with the gulch as I once was, I still like to go back every year or two. On my most recent visit this past Saturday (6/2/18) I was accompanied by a couple friends (Murray and Mark). We kayaked in from Upper Holter Lake (5 miles one-way), walked through the monuments, and then hiked to an unnamed peak near the head of the gulch (5 miles round-trip). It was satisfying to show my friends this special the place, and tell them what I knew about the tragedy.
However, we did lose GPS signal in the canyon and our map ended up looking like this zig-zaggy mess and by the time we finished, our AllTrails recording said 8.59 miles. But since there is only really one route through the canyon, we think it was likely closer to the 5.6 miles that the trail page on AllTrails states.For this hike, you start in a wash after leaving the Wire Pass trailhead and then enter the Wire Pass slot canyon, go down a ladder (which we will cover more in a bit), and wander through the slot canyon some more before reaching a large opening, which is where the trail connects with Buckskin Gulch. At this opening, we took a right and continued to explore the gulch until we reached where the AllTrails route ended on the map, which is called the Buckskin Gulch overlook, which unless we missed something, is just a super cool, wide open area. We turned around here, as that is what the trail map suggested, but the beauty of this hike is that you can choose your own adventure.You can either continue on further into Buckskin Gulch if you have the time and energy or you can turn around much sooner than we did. We noticed a lot of people tend to just hike the Wire Pass portion of the trail and turn around at the wide opening where it meets the gulch. There are a lot of options! However, we suggest doing the entire 5.6 mile trek, as it continues to amaze the entire time and feels more remote the further you go.Regardless of how far you decide to go, the trail is pretty flat and is doable for all ages, minus the ladder portion, which would be tricky for small kiddos without some assistance, as well as for dogs.