In April my wife and I took our two children, girls four and seven-years-old, to Coyote Gulch, Grand Staircase-Escalante. The trip took place over my birthday and was definitely my best despite an obvious lack of cake and piñata. Our four-year-old was in that transitional phase of being too heavy to carry very far, and too small to walk very far. This makes planning a backpacking trip challenging, but we knew we wanted to go to Coyote Gulch, so we started researching the fastest way in without fall potential.
This quest for the easiest way to get our kids into Coyote Gulch arrived at a short 2.65 mile route starting near Chimney Rock, heading towards Hurricane Wash across trail-less sandstone desert, dropping into the wash, and arriving at the Coyote Gulch-Hurricane Wash Confluence. Make it an even three miles and you’ll be far enough into Coyote Gulch to have a scenic first-night camp. There are a couple of similarly short routes in, but best reserved for adults. I won’t say whether or not we helped our kids along with caffeinated Probar Bolt fruit snacks, but I will say that when we arrived they had energy to spare, like we had just picked them up from Starbucks Day Care center.
Coyote Gulch is an amazing place to take kids for many reasons. It is semi-remote, giving kids the experience of true backpacking, without going so deep into the wilderness that I grow a full beard and end up unrecognizable. It also hosts an inviting water feature that can’t be beat—a pristine desert tributary heading to the Escalante river gently winds down the canyon and is safe enough to let most kids play with little supervision. The water is bordered by numerous sandy beaches throughout the canyon that we were well equipped for with sandbox toys. The shade of the canyon walls and amazing desert canyon scenery blend together into perfect relaxing spots to waste the day away as parents. Leave the gear at base camp and take a short, must-do, day hike to see massive, unforgettable arches carved into the canyon walls.
Try one of these sites for more info on Coyote Gulch and some impressive photos:
Fastest and easiest way into Coyote Gulch
Now for the real goods. Here is a downloadable map of the route we took into the Gulch after parking just past Chimney Rock. Below it is a Google Map marking the location of the trailhead. We made it with no problem in an AWD Impreza, but I would dare try it with 2WD if the weather is good. If you have any other questions about taking kids to the Coyote Gulch please ask them in the comment section below.
Goole Map to the trailhead (click the pin and then the directions icon):
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