David and I drove down to Escalante Utah to spend the night at a motel so we can spend full days hiking in the area. This is one of my favorite places to visit because of the Escalante Canyon complex that stretches from the town of Escalante clear to Lake Powell to the south. There are hundreds of side canyons with miles of slickrock. Many of the side canyons are not even named and stretch for miles away from the main Escalante Canyon, in all directions. In areas like this, there has to be many un-documented natural arches and bridges.
Another reason this is one of my favorite areas to visit is that David and I have family ties to the area. My grandmother was a Moosman whose Grandfather settled in the Escalante and Boulder area. Many Moosmans are buried in the town cemetery and many local features are named after family members.
Escalante is also one of the most remote towns in Utah. If you find yourself in Escalante, it is because you are headed there and not because you are passing through on your way to somewhere else. In Escalante, stores and shops close at 5 PM and by 9 PM not even the several cafes are open. (You can starve to death in Escalante if you don’t plan ahead.)
From Escalante, David and I drove down the Hole-in-the-Rock (always badly washboarded) road to the Egypt jeep trail which takes us to the trailhead so we can hike off the plateau down to the Escalante River. We choose to take a side trail that took us to Fence Canyon where we can take pictures of the class ‘B’ natural arch located there.
We then continued down to the Escalante River and then south along the river to Neon Canyon. Just before the mouth of Neon Canyon, there is a nice panel of Indian petroglyphs that I wanted to visit.
We then hike east up Neon Canyon for just over a mile until we reach a large pore off where the stream has drilled a natural bridge in the sandstone. Below the hole is a swimming pool sized splash pool. This is grotto is call The Golden Cathedral and it is magnificent!
That’s all. Just Wow!
Neon Canyon and the natural bridge of the Golden Cathedral is best appreciated in the afternoon when the sun strikes the large splash pool under the bridge. The sun rays are then reflected back on the dark canyon wall in a dazzling display of light. Hence the name Neon Canyon.
This is nature’s magic at it’s best!
Unfortunately, we soon had to leave to go to another magical place called “Home”. This required a LONG hike up and out of the canyon. This was an unusually long and hard slough with the last half mile all up a very steep slope. It was a real gut-buster that left us feeling a little ill at the end of the day. Another twenty or so miles driving down a bad washboard dirt road didn’t help any.