Escalante, Utah in southern Utah is surrounded by a rugged wilderness of vast forests, towering peaks, incredible canyons, and one-of-a-kind rock formations. As the last explored territory in the continental United States, Escalante offers visitors spectacular scenery and an unmatched sense of seclusion.
Located along scenic Highway 12, one of the most beautiful drives in America, Escalante is surrounded on every side by unparalleled geological wonders. To the west of Escalante along Highway 12 sits Bryce Canyon National Park with its pink-hued hoodoos and massive amphitheaters. If you follow highway 12 to the east of Escalante you will run into the stunning rotunda shaped rocks of Capitol Reef National Park and the weather beaten crags of the Waterline Fold. The area north of town is occupied by the high alpine wilderness of the Aquarius Plateau and Boulder Mountain while the south side of town hosts the rugged red rock desert canyons of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
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Escalante, Utah is a small ranching community with tidy rows of well-kept homes. It is the kind of place where the pace is a little bit slower and salutations take a little bit longer. Its easy access to so many National Parks and Monuments and its incredible variety of things to explore make Escalante the perfect place to base a vacation. Escalante is home to several different activity outfitters and you can do anything from a guided horseback ride to the top of one of the surrounding peaks to a canyoneering adventure through a rugged slot canyon.
The first settlers to Escalante arrived in 1875, they were Mormon pioneers who were attracted by the areas mild climate and abundance of grazing land. Besides raising cattle and sheep, dairying, timber harvesting, and mining were also important to the economy of the settlement. The early pioneer settlers built more than fifty homes of native brick, many of which still stand today as a legacy to the towns heritage. The wide streets and neatly landscaped yards with corrals and barns established by the first settlers are still characteristic of the town today.
The settlers named the town Escalante at the recommendation of A.H. Thompson, the chief map maker of John Wesley Powell’s exploration team, who passed through the area in 1875. Thompson advised the pioneers to name it for Father Silvestre Velez de Escalante, who passed near the Escalante River on his expedition from Santa Fe to California in 1776.
The pioneers who settled Escalante valued close-knit family and neighborhood relationships and established a strong, conservative community. Escalante is isolated from major highways and large cities, and residents have had to work hard and battle the elements to build irrigation systems, electrical and telephone services, a bank, an airport, and other facilities which have made Escalante an important oasis for the thousands of tourists who visit the area each year. The town is home to around 860 residents and is the largest community for 70 miles in every direction.