Do you love hiking in Utah? If so, then you’ll want to add Calf Creek Campground & Upper Calf Creek Falls to your list of can’t-miss places to visit while in the state. This hike isn’t just exceptionally scenic, but it’s also very family-friendly and an easy way to experience Utah on a budget. Here are five reasons why it’s one of my favorite hikes in the area and why you should consider adding it to your must-do lists when visiting Utah.
1) The scenery here is unreal
Not only is it within striking distance of Zion National Park, but it’s also home to one of Utah’s most iconic hikes. Nowhere else in Southern Utah will you find a better combination of stunning canyon vistas and high mountain lakes. The hike up upper Calf Creek Falls trail is easy enough for children and old folks, but also offers more than enough spectacle for adrenaline junkies looking for an awesome workout. If you can only make time for one trail in Southern Utah, make sure its on your list!
2) The hike requires a short but fun swim
The lower falls are beautiful and well worth seeing, but if you want to catch a glimpse of one of Utah’s most beautiful natural wonders, you’ll have to get wet. To visit upper calf creek falls, hikers must follow a short trail that leads down into the creek bed and across several slippery rocks. You might be tempted to skip on over those last few feet, but resist that urge! Once you reach your destination and feel that refreshing water splash across your toes, it will all be worth it. And make sure you get up close—you can see a great reflection of nearby Devil’s Castle in its waters.
3) You can camp here overnight
If you want an authentic backcountry experience, head to Utah’s Calf Creek Campground. Though it can get busy in peak season (July–August), you can usually find a nice campsite without much trouble. Once you’ve pitched your tent, explore all there is to see and do—the area features several caves and prehistoric rock art sites, as well as hiking trails. Don’t miss Upper Calf Creek Falls! This 100-foot waterfall plunges into a narrow chasm with an enchanting sound and breathtaking beauty. The walk from your car to see it is just over a mile—and an easy one at that.
4) Fishing in the stream here is superb
Beginning in April, anglers can test their skills on a variety of fish species, including bass, perch and walleye. Fly fishing enthusiasts are particularly fond of Calf Creek—and they’re usually successful. Non-fishermen often enjoy casting lines here too: The scenery is gorgeous and anyone who spends time here is bound to catch a glimpse of wildlife (including water birds and deer). And one visit won’t be enough: Though there’s plenty to do at Calf Creek Campground, most visitors say they plan on returning for another trip soon.
5) There’s lots of history here
People lived at Calf Creek thousands of years ago, but they abandoned it because of a rockslide that occurred near here. Humans have since returned and recently dug up a mule shoe (which was likely part of a prospector’s wagon) and pieces of broken china. The nearby village of Escalante (named after Silvestre Vélez de Escalante, who explored southern Utah in 1776) was once an agricultural area with fruit orchards and livestock until farmers were forced to leave when Lake Powell filled in 1963. And there’s certainly more history out there, just waiting for you to uncover it!