Escalante Hiking Trails

Trail Head: 37.466336, -111.223912
Trail Type: Hiking
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 3.2 miles roundtrip

Spooky Gulch is a short slot canyon hike in the Grand Staircase-Escalante area, located on the Hole-in-the-Rock Road, 26 miles south of the town of Escalante. Spooky is well-named and pretty famous for how dark it gets when deep in a slot, and for the panic-inspiring quality of its extremely narrow walls.

In order to reach Spooky Gulch, visitors should drive the 26 miles down the Hole-in-the-Rock Road off of Highway 12, until they find the Dry Fork Road, heading northeast into the desert. The Dry Fork turnoff branches after only a few hundred yards, and visitors need to stay left in order to reach the Dry Fork overlook.

Spooky can be combined with Peek-a-boo Gulch to make a fun loop hike. The recommended route is to take Peek-a-boo Gulch first, scrambling north up through its depths, and upon exiting, hiking overland to the east for half a mile until the wide streambed above Spooky Gulch is reached. From there, follow Spooky back down to Dry Fork, and then hike back to the overlook. The total loop route is about 3.5 miles long.

Dry Fork Turnoff

(37.466336, -111.223912)

The entire route from Highway 12 is an extremely rugged washboard road with sand traps and the occasional rut. Though vans and cars can tackle the route, a four-wheel drive vehicle with decent suspension is recommended.

Dry Fork Overlook

(37.476527, -111.220234)

There is a parking lot at the end of the Dry Fork road, beside an overlook that sits 300 feet above the canyon systems below it. From this vantage point, visitors can see the rock formations that hide Spooky and Peekaboo Gulches.

Dry Fork

(37.481171, -111.217935)

A short climb from the overlook takes hikers down a winding path along the slopes and boulders of the cliff, and into the sandy bottom of Dry Fork below. Immediately ahead is Peek-a-boo Gulch, heading north, and the Dry Fork itself continues west. But in order to reach Peek-a-boo, follow the dry creek bed east as it winds its way downstream.

Spooky Gulch Bottom

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The opening to Spooky is wide and dark, though it closes up within short order. Only a few hundred feet into the canyon, normal-sized adults will begin having difficulty.

Top of the Gulch

(37.484911, -111.209524)

As the canyon begins to widen again, the sheer sides falling away to gentler slopes, hikers will find themselves at the bottom of a sandy streambed. From here, they can turn around and go back the way they came, or mount the east rim of the canyon and hike back. Or they can trek west until they hit Peek-a-boo and journey back to the Dry Fork overlook by that route.

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