Sunday, July 12, 2015

Escalante Canyon, CO



The heat wave ended last week, so with the cooler temps we thought it would be a good time to visit Escalante Canyon, part of the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area, about ten miles west of Delta, CO. A couple weeks ago we hiked in Dominguez Canyon, a bit further west and closer to Grand Junction, and were hoping to find similar red rock scenery in Escalante Canyon. And we did.


The narrow dirt Escalante Canyon Road runs for about 15 miles along Escalante Creek, a very scenic drive. After crossing the Gunnison River in a few more miles we came to this cabin, built by bricklayer Harry Walker and his four sons in 1911.


It’s seen better days, but being open to the public it’s a wonder that vandals haven’t done more damage.



Another few miles brought us to Captain Henry Smith’s cabin.


The sign was hard to read but this is what it says:

“The front cabin was built in 1911 by Captain Henry A. Smith, a civil war veteran and expert tombstone carver.  He laid up three rock walls against an upright stone slab and carved his name and rank on the outside.  The interior contains a hollowed out bed-sized alcove and gun niche.  For his numerous guests, he later built the second cabin with beds below and in the loft.  On the back wall is a hinged shelf which hides a secret room.  To your left, up on the cliff face, he carved his initials and the name of his blacksmith friend, Roy Bowen.  The horseshoe and star are the insignia of the blacksmith shop.”

Quite an interesting place. There is a covered picnic shelter nearby, a pretty spot for lunch.





Not far past the cabin we came to the Escalante Potholes Recreation Area. Apparently this used to be a big party spot, with people drinking and diving off the rocks into the water and killing themselves, so about 10 years ago the BLM put lots of restrictions in place for the area. It is okay to swim and wade but no jumping or diving. Not that the fast running muddy creek looked very inviting to us, and we didn’t really see any good ways to get down there had we wanted to.





Since Jim can’t swim I wasn’t too worried about him jumping off.


There aren’t any formal trails but we hiked for about a mile over rocks and cattle paths and came back along the road.






We continued driving a few more miles but turned around when the sky looked like it was getting ready to open up. We didn’t think it would be good to get caught on that road in the rain since it was already pretty rutted and muddy in spots.


It was a good day exploring another beautiful part of Colorado and we got back on pavement just in time.


  1. A person would have to be pretty drunk to dive off that cliff. Yikes!

    I love hiking around big boulders. What a beautiful place to spend several hours. Glad Jim didn't jump...hehe

  2. Glad you got over to the desert :). Had it been 95 degrees you might have found a way down to that muddy, but cool, water. Nice break from the Mesa Grande.

  3. Looks like wonderful country. I especially like the old cabins!

  4. Oh, yes, looks just like Utah!! Love all those red rocks. I'll have to remember this area. I love finding old cabins. How neat that there were such nice carvings in the rock! Great find!

  5. That muddy water looks quite striking against those gray rocks and greenery! Interesting history in the area. Looks like you had the place entirely to yourselves.

    1. We saw a couple other vehicles on the road but nobody out of their cars. Just the way we like it!

  6. Glad the temps have cooled down, this is a beautiful hike. I love the red rock combined with the dark green trees. Can't believe they have to tell people it's not okay to jump - and that telling them makes any difference :-)

  7. What a great day. So glad to hear that your temps cooled off so you could get out and take these beautiful pictures. The Smith house is really interesting. I wonder why it is being preserved but the Walker house is not? I can't imagine diving or even jumping down there and I can swim. This looks like a great place where few people go. Is the dirt road possible for a low sitting Honda Accord?

    1. The road wasn't bad and could be driven by a passenger car. There were some ruts and mud that you could straddle or go around in a few places but no rocks. You would NOT want to get caught there in the rain, though.

  8. Another area of Colorado that we will have to add to the list. Glad to hear that the weather is improving. It can be downright chilly in the Pacific NW we are finding, and I'm not complaining. :)

  9. Beautiful. Looks like a great hike.

  10. More gorgeous red rock country that I'd never heard of. Love both the stone cabins and could move in a heartbeat. Glad you made it back to pavement before the rain. Looks like it's about to dump on us here. Good thing as it's been a pretty dry July monsoon.