Josh and I had the greatest time on our belated 5th Anniversary trip to Southern Utah. It was absolutely gorgeous down there and the weather was rather pleasant.The following is a travel log of our trip:
We drove the three plus hours to Boulder, Utah along US 24 and US 12. The drive on US 12 was breath taking. I would highly recommend it and be sure to take a camera. (I was camera crazy the entire trip and I love my new camera! I included just a few of my favorite shots above.) The highway goes through Dixie National Forest which is full of stunning aspen trees, tall pines, and many cattle. There are a few campsites along the road that look rather nice (and the rest stop had flushing toilets). Once you get south of Boulder it runs along a ridge part of the time with beautiful views from either side and winds up and around stunning mountains and rock formations.
We stopped in Boulder for dinner on our way down to our Inn in Escalante. We ate at the Boulder Mesa Restaurant. The food was a little pricey, but it was rather good (though our least favorite of the trip-we were spoiled as far as food goes). I had their tostada, which was as big as my plate, and Josh had the trout. We ate out on the deck and were surrounded by hummingbirds buzzing all around.
We easily found the Slot Canyons Inn, just west of Escalante off Hwy 12, and were immediately impressed with it. The property was beautiful and the Inn was stunning. We were met by the owner, Joette, and she showed us around the main floor and then to our room which was on the ground level. I liked her immediately and she proved very helpful, kind, and informative on top of making wonderful breakfasts (we especially liked Aunt Mildred's Eggs). We really like our room, by far the best place we have ever stayed. (our only, ever so little complaint, was that you could hear your neighbors a bit more than usual.)
Friday morning we spent exploring the Inn's property. They have 160 acres of beautiful land. There is a cliff behind the Inn that we were able to climb up rather easily that gives you a cool view of the property. We also found some pictographs while we were climbing around and some amazing rock formations. Apparently there were Native Amercians living on the property hundreds and thousands of years ago. BYU is actually doing an excavation project on the property just behind the Inn at the bottom of the cliff. We went and talked to them for a bit and looked at the site (which wasn't that impressive unless you knew what you were doing). They have found evidence of people living there back 8-11 THOUSAND years ago! Can you imagine?
We had lunch at the local frosty shop in Escalante (per Joette's recommendation) and then drove around Escalante a bit, which doesn't take long, and explored some of the shops. I was not impressed with the shopping in Escalante. There were a few podunk shops that sold very expensive art and jewelry and then other junky stuff. Supposedly there were a couple antique shops but they weren't open at the time. There were a lot of cool old houses from the pioneers era. I just love those old houses made out of the rough red brick. The people were really nice and willing to give directions and suggestions on things to do.
For dinner we ate at the Escalante Outfitters Cafe (another recommendation by Joette that proved amazing). They serve gourmet pizzas to die for, well at least the one we had. It was their Chicken Pesto Pizza and it had a pesto sauce instead of a tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, sliced tomatoes, chicken, mushrooms, and red onions. Oh so Yummy! I'm going to try and reproduce it at home with my homegrown basil. They also have a shop with camping and hiking gear and some souvenirs.
Friday evening we went to the Petrified Forest State Park. We had tried earlier in the day but it was too hot to do the uphill climb to the bluff. They have a 1 mile loop hike that takes you up and around the top of the bluff to see multiple pieces of petrified wood. The hike is very pretty and I would recommend it. Because it was so late in the day we were the only ones up there which was really nice. The bluff provides a great view of Escalante to the East and Wide Hollow Reservoir to the West. There is also a campsite near the reservoir at the base of the trail, though I wouldn't recommend it unless you enjoy seeing all your close neighbors.
Saturday morning we left right after an excellent breakfast at the Inn and headed on our way to Boulder. We stopped at the Escalante River to do a bit of hiking to find the Indian dwellings pictured above that were pointed out to us by the locals. It was a short easy hike along the river and cliffs edge. Well worth the time. If we had had more time we would have walked more of it. We then went on to Boulder to see the Anasazi State Park and Museum. The park and museum are fairly small but well worth the stop (and $4 each entrance fee). The Museum includes many artifacts taken from the site and information about the Indians that lived there. The park out back has a replica of an Indian dwelling and then the excavation site that you can walk around.
Our lunch in Boulder was also amazing. We ate at the Burr Trail Grill. It is a pretty laid back atmosphere (through out both Escalante and Boulder) and the food was well worth stopping for. Josh had their Blue Volcano Burger which had blue cheese and a chili sauce on it, and I had their Turkey Cran Pesto Sandwich which had a cranberry sauce, roasted turkey, spinach, and a pesto sauce. Mouth watering goodness! We also had their half order of nachos which were also really good.
After lunch we were off home to see our boys and my family. Overall it was a laid back, much needed trip. We really had a great time. There was so much that we didn't have time to do. I would love to go back and do some of the Slot Canyons and do some of Bryce Canyon which is about an hour west of Escalante. I really enjoyed discovering the pictographs and Indian dwellings and would love to explore some more (supposedly the visitors center outside of Escalante on US12 can show you some maps etc). Here's hoping we make it back sometime!