In Praise of Place: Devil’s Garden, Escalante
Following our midday drive along the Burr Trail, Anne and I decided to try traveling down the first 10 miles or so of the Hole in the Rock Road to Devil’s Garden, hoping that the road would be passable after overnight (and early morning) heavy rains.
Devil’s Garden is one of the more visited corners of Grand Staircase-Escalante, consisting of several acres of sandstone monuments, hoodoos, and a pair of arches cropping out beside a dry wash. There are no hiking trails as such on site — the agenda for visitors involves simply wandering around between the various whimsical stone figures and marveling at their geological audacity. In contrast to similar features to be found elsewhere in Utah’s canyon country, the naturally-sculpted rock art at Devil’s Garden is pint-sized: the oft-photographed Metate Arch, for instance, is probably only 10 or 12 feet overhead as one strolls beneath. (Photos I’ve seen of it always led me to believe it was much larger.)
We were graced with partly cloudy skies on the afternoon of our visit, which always serves to add drama to landscape photos. Two other parties were encountered while we were there: a middle-aged couple who were hiking about the formations when we arrived, and then a mixed party of 3 older folks who — on the several occasions we passed within range of them during our visit — took every opportunity to photograph each other in front of whatever rocky sculpture loomed into view.
[Following the bed of the dry wash bordering to the west would make for an interesting hike, as it appears to provide a clear and easily-navigable path to a series of rocky bluffs farther south. I’m filing this away for future reference, should I ever have a chance to return.]
I should note to anyone with an interest in driving this distance down the Hole in the Rock Road that it is well maintained at least to this point and should present no difficulties — other than a bit of rattling due to several washboard stretches — for any passenger vehicle. Of course, when you visit the area a quick trip to the nearest BLM office is strongly advised, as conditions are subject to change with every storm that passes through the region.