Utah Scenic Byway 12 runs from Bryce Country east through the northern edge of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. When going east on Utah SR 12, the landscape changes dramatically every five to ten miles, which is the nature of this untamed territory. First the red rock outcrops of the Kodachrome Basin region can be seen, then the towering eroded white sandstone mesas come into view. The Blues Region and Powell Point Vista are just another few miles further ahead, then the road follows the Escalante River downhill toward the town of Escalante before entering The Canyons region. This is a lot of majestic scenery to take in and each of the various terrains offers a unique outdoor experience.
Most of the Escalante River basin along Utah SR 12 is a long narrow valley with green pastures and forests that are surrounded by a wall of mountains and sheer vertical cliffs. Where the Escalante River carved canyons and sheer cliffs is where many ancient pueblo cliff structures can be seen. Most people that drive through the Escalante River region would not even notice the ancient stone structures that are tucked away on ledges high on the cliffs if it were not for the roadside scenic overlook markers along the way. This is because the ancient cliff structures were designed to keep the stored food caches hidden from marauding invaders. The high cliff locations also minimized the threat of pest infestation, so the design certainly was effective.
The Escalante River ancient cliff structures are not easy to spot, but at the Granary In The Cliffs Roadside Scenic Overlook, spotting the first cliff structure is made easy. This is because pinpoint viewing tubes are mounted on the information kiosk. The viewing tubes are literally aimed right at the Granary In The Cliffs structure. This feature is a big help, because the structures are actually difficult to pinpoint with the naked eye, even if you think that you know where to look!
The Granary In The Cliffs is just one example of many ancient pueblo structures that can be seen along this section of the Escalante River. There is a hiking trail that goes to several other granaries tucked away high on the riverside cliffs. The trail runs along the narrow tract of land between the base of the cliffs and the river, so it is on fairly level ground and the trek is easy going. The Escalante Riverside Granary Trail runs through a few lush green areas too, so be on the lookout for wildlife along the way.
During the hot summer season, a cool riverside stroll in the shade of towering cliffs and tall trees is an easy going experience that can be looked forward to. The Granary In The Cliffs Scenic Overlook is the reckoning point to look for and the Escalante River Trail can be found nearby. The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is a land of many pleasant surprises and a new adventure awaits every few miles. Touring Utah Scenic Byway 12 through the north edge of this park is a good way to become familiar with this vast wilderness area and the Escalante River Granary Trail offers an opportunity to walk through the ancient past!
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