UT – Grand Staircase Escalante – Boulder Mail Trail . . . a day for wandering and pondering

My plan was to spend the day exploring Hell’s Backbone Road, the Highway 12 Scenic Backway from Escalante to Boulder, but alas my plans were foiled when I found a CLOSED sign. So what’s a traveler to do? There’s always a Plan B, C, D . . . which is how I found myself back at the Boulder end of the Boulder Mail Trail. 

It’s fascinating to think of this as an old mail delivery route. 

The first couple of miles switchback down through the forest. 

Then it becomes a game of following cairns. Most “trails” in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument are “routes” which require good navigation skills as discernible paths are frequently absent or intermittent. Map and compass should be considered necessities of travel in this area.

I became a giddy kid when I reached this  slickrock plateau. 

All thoughts of a destination became secondary to slickrock exploration. 

Before scampering down some of these slopes, be sure you’ve scouted out a way back up. 

Such diversity. Oh geology, how I love thee!

This was an anomaly when compared to the slickrock landscape.

Looks like a species of cryptantha, another unusual sighting.

This was a day when the Universe knows better than Jan. I was supposed to be right here playing in this sandbox not rolling along the roads as an observer.

What does wandering look like? Yes, I could have made Death Hollow my destination as recommended in the guidebooks and I’m sure I would have had a fantastic day, but I had so much FUN playing on the slickrock instead. Follow your heart and intuition. Live life without regrets!

Date(s) Hiked: April 6, 2016

Road Trip Day(s) #47 out of 88


  • Stop by one of the BLM Visitor Centers to obtain the latest information on trail conditions, etc. They had handouts on specific areas including rudimentary maps. The National Geographic Canyons of the Escalante map includes the Boulder Mail Trail.
  • Permits are required in many areas, some for day use, everywhere for backcountry overnight trips.
  • Many roads require 4×4 or high clearance 4×4. Know before you go.
  • Beware of flash floods in the washes and heavy rains making dirt roads hazardous. Watch the weather!
  • Walk gingerly. Avoid cyptobiotic soil crusts which are fragile with lengthy recovery time. 



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