Escalante Petrified Forest – Solo Winter Adventures in Utah (Day 2)

Escalante Petrified Forest – Solo Winter Adventures in Utah (Day 2)

Sleeping Rainbows

Two logs of petrified wood (purple, yellow, orange, and red) in the snow at the low-point of the Sleeping Rainbows Trail

Rock-hounding is strictly forbidden. Collecting petrified wood and/or rocks of any kind within the boundaries of Escalante Petrified Forest is strictly forbidden. As of 2020, there are plenty of places in Utah where you can go and respectfully collect small amounts of petrified wood for your personal collections (click here for details or check with local BLM offices), but this is not one of them.

Trip Report: Escalante Petrified State Forest

  • Date: January 28, 2020
  • Activity: Winter Day Hiking
  • Day-Use Fee: $8, payable at self-pay station
  • Trail Name(s): Petrified Forest and Sleeping Rainbows Loop (1.75 miles total)
    1. Petrified Forest Trail (1 mile loop), rapidly ascends 200 feet before winding lazily across a mesa littered with petrified wood; Trail Conditions: a muddy mess with occasional intervals of snow and ice; I recommend avoiding it on warm (above freezing) afternoons and in the spring
    2. Sleeping Rainbows Trail ( 0.75 miles) loop off of the Petrified Forest Trail at the top of the mesa; this rougher, less-trafficked trail steeply descends off of the back of the mesa to an overlook before rapidly returning to the top of the mesa and the Petrified Forest Trail. Trail Conditions: a steep snowy scramble with fresh untracked snow of variable depths (2″ and 24″) between rocks and boulders (spoiler alert: some of the boulders are petrified wood).
  • Location: Southern Utah between Bryce Canyon National Park and Capital Reef National Park (Two miles northwest of the town of Escalante off State Route 12). Address: 710 N. Reservoir Road, EscalanteUT 84726
  • Access and Amenities (winter): Parking lots were plowed and completely empty, roads were mostly plowed. The reservoir was completely frozen with 8″ thick ice, so I was surprised to find functioning water spigots even though the temperatures were above freezing (I hosed off my very muddy boots before returning to my car)
    • Campgrounds: Open and 100% empty ($20 per night, $28 for RVs/hook-ups);
    • Visitor Center: Closed the entire day I was there

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Tragedy in the Whites

I plan to climb Mt. Washington this winter, and I expect to survive the attempt…but I recognize that not everybody does. New Hampshire’s White Mountains, though beautiful, can be dangerous, especially during the winter. Yesterday the hiking community received a painful reminder of this truth when we learned of the tragic death of fellow hiker and adventurer Kate Matrosova. Though I did not know Kate Matrosova we have some things in common… We are both women in our 30s that enjoy hiking and mountaineering, we’ve both climbed Kilimajaro, we’ve both gone on solo winter hikes in the White Mountains, and we both hoped to climb Mt. Washington this winter…

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