The national monument occupies a large section of southern Utah -- covering an area almost as big as the states of Delaware and Rhode Island combined -- with Bryce Canyon National Park to the west, Capitol Reef National Park on the northeast edge, and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area along the east and part of the south sides.
Access is via Utah 12 along the monument's northern boundary, from Kodachrome Basin State Park and the communities of Escalante and Boulder; and via U.S. 89 to the southwestern section of the monument, east of the town of Kanab, which is about 80 miles south of Bryce Canyon.
The national monument remains a very rugged area, with limited facilities, poor roads, and changeable weather. Before setting out, all visitors are urged to contact one of the monument's visitor centers to get maps and other information, and especially to check on current road and weather conditions.
These include the Escalante Interagency Visitor Center, on the west side of Escalante at 755 W. Main St. (Utah 12), Escalante, UT 84726 (tel. 435/826-5499), open daily 7:30am to 5:30pm from mid-March through mid-November, and 8am to 4:30pm Monday through Friday the rest of the year. You can also get information at the Bureau of Land Management's Kanab Visitor Center, 745 E. U.S. 89, Kanab, UT 84741 (tel. 435/644-4680; www.ut.blm.gov/monument), open daily 8am to 5pm from mid-March to mid-November, and 8am to 4:30pm Monday through Friday the rest of the year.
Other visitor centers open mid-March through mid-November only are in Cannonville (tel. 435/826-5640), east of Bryce Canyon National Park, and in Big Water (tel. 435/675-3200), which is along U.S. 89 near the southern edge of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (call for current hours).
Fees, Regulations & Safety
There is no charge to enter the monument; those planning overnight trips into the backcountry should obtain free permits at any of the offices listed above. Regulations are similar to those on other public lands; damaging or disturbing archaeological and historic sites in any way is forbidden.
Water is the main safety concern here, whether there's too little or too much. This is generally very dry country, so those going into the monument should carry plenty of drinking water. However, thunderstorms can turn the monument's dirt roads into impassable mud bogs in minutes, stranding motorists; and potentially fatal flash floods through narrow canyons can catch hikers by surprise. Anyone planning trips into the monument should check first with one of the offices listed above for current and anticipated weather and travel conditions.