- Desert Canyon
- 1.5 miles
- Less than an hour
Phipps Wash is an excellent choice for hikers who want to experience Grand Staircase without trekking too far from a paved road. This hike is far from lengthy or strenuous, but the noise of traffic, always slight on UT 12, is completely silenced by the canyon's two mile distance from the pavement. You'll pull off UT 12, then slip down between a gap in the cliffs into a barren side channel of the wash, penetrating into the main canyon soon after.
The canyon's terrain is varied within its walls. You'll trek from the sandy drainage chute over slick-rock, and then the walls will turn steep and tall and red. A little further, and you'll be in the flood plain of the Escalante River, the bare red walls clothed in desert bush. You'll walk past flowers and cacti both. You'll find a stream practically under foot.
The big attraction of the hike, though, is Phipps Arch, a rock formation 100 feet wide that you'll have to detour for about a third of a mile to see. Another large rock formation, if 20 feet instead of 100, is shady Maverick Natural Bridge. This is easier to reach from the main wash.