Hole in the Rock
May 18th, 2017
It’s a muddy dusty bumpy road (56 miles to be exact) from Scenic Byway 12 to reach the Hole in the Rock. We did a hike into Zebra in the rain and experienced muddy and slippery conditions first hand. The hike planned for the next day was Davis Gulch which is over 50 miles from Hwy 12. After checking with the Visitor Center, we decided to give a go. The road turned out to be ok and the mud from yesterday turned into bumps and dust. After completing Davis Gulch, the group decision was to travel the additional 6 miles to Hole in the Rock.
The Hole in the Rock and the view of Lake Powell was fantastic but the ride was bumpy. The last 15 miles of the road are the roughest. While other sections of the road are not exactly a super highway, it wasn’t too bad with speeds of 35 miles an hour at times. It was more like 10 miles an hour from Davis Gulch to the Hole in Rock.
Hole in the Rock Road was the route of the last major wagon train in America in an attempt to settle a new frontier. Just imagine how picks and shovels forged a route for lumbering wagons. These determined settlers walked hundreds of miles beside their wagon to lighten the load on their teams as they created this road we enjoy in route to our hikes and scenic vistas. In 1879 the settlers stayed at Dance Hall Rock, a National Historic Site. When more families arrived, they began blasting their way through solid rock to widen a crack 1,800 feet above the Colorado River and to what is now Lake Powell.
Driving the Hole in the Rock Road is an adventure. A high clearance SUV will get you most places, but the last 5 miles is better suited for 4WD. You might make it if you’re careful, but there is a chance you could have some challenges and issues. When heading out on the “Road” it is essential to have extra food, extra clothing, adequate water and a full tank of gas.
The Hole in the Rock Road provides access to camping, great views, and some great hikes. Be prepared for long drives and longer hikes, and not necessarily easy hikes.
Starting down the “Road” you can detour at 2.7 miles to Cedar Wash Arch Covered Wagon Natural Bridge. At 13.3 miles down the road you can experience Devils Garden Natural Area which is a great way to introduce yourself to Grand Staircase – Escalante and what it provides.
The “Road” provides access to some of Utah’s great slot canyons. You have Big Horn Slot, Zebra, and Tunnel that flow into Harris Wash. Further down the “Road” at 26.5 miles you will reach Dry Fork, the location of Peek-A-Boo, Spooky, and Brimstone Slots. That’s just a few of the possibilities.
One of the major attractions access from the “Road” is Coyote Gulch with access points that include Red Well, Hurricane Wash, and Fortymile Ridge, and Crack in the Wall. Hiking Coyote Gulch will be long treks and typically be done as back packing adventures. A shorter access to Coyote Gulch is via Crack in the Wall. This can be done as a day hike with the understanding that you will be trudging through some sandy terrain and that the squeeze down the crack is tight.
Another hike to consider includes Willow Gulch and Broken Bow Arch. A great slick rock hike is along the rim of Davis Gulch with a view of Bement Arch.
Hole in the Rock Road is an adventure in itself. There is a lot to see, so allow plenty of time. You can do the drive in a day, but you will need multiple days and trips to experience all the adventures offered by this vast wilderness.