Here’s a list of things to do at Escalante Petrified Forest State Park!
It may not be at the top of the list of Utah State Parks to visit, but it’s full of history and unique geological features – like the petrified forest that inspired its name.
Whether you’re looking for an excellent state park to explore for the day, a quiet camping spot for an overnight trip, or another location to add to your Utah road trip itinerary, you really can’t go wrong.
Keep reading to learn why Escalante Petrified Forest State Park is such a great spot to explore – and why it deserves a spot on your list of places to visit!
Why Visit Escalante Petrified Forest State Park?
Escalante Petrified Forest State Park is a must-see for a few reasons.
To start, it offers a landscape like none other. There are few places with such a collection of petrified trees – you can’t miss them. Some of the fossilized trees are two feet in diameter and more closely resemble boulders than the remnants of ancient trees.
The visitor center is well worth a visit and is filled with history. It includes displays that feature dinosaur bones, fossilized shells, ancient ammonites, and plenty of petrified wood – which inspired the park’s name. There are few places where you’ll find this much petrified wood, and it’s surprising to see just how large some of these trees used to be in this desert landscape.
Aside from the history and beauty of the park, there are lots of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors here. Whether you love to hike, fish, kayak, canoe, camp, or picnic, you’ll find it all – and more – at Escalante Petrified Forest State Park.
Things to Do at Escalante Petrified Forest State Park
Not sure how to spend your time at the park? There are lots of different ways you can enjoy all this park has to offer. Whether you only plan to stop by for a few hours en route to somewhere else, or you’d like to spend a couple of days relaxing and exploring all this state park has to offer, you really can’t go wrong!
Hiking at Escalante State Park
If you love to hike, you’ll want to tackle one of the trails at Escalante Petrified Forest State Park.
The Petrified Forest Trail is a quick one-mile loop that’ll lead you through many of the park’s fossilized trees that inspired its name. The climb up the mesa will get your blood pumping, and you’ll be rewarded with some pretty incredible close-up views of the petrified trees.
There’s an optional loop called Sleeping Rainbows Trail that you can hike off of the Petrified Forest Trail. It extends your total hike by less than another mile – but don’t think it’s easy! This section is much steeper than the Petrified Forest Trail and involves a bit of scrambling, so use caution when choosing to take this route, especially if you’re exploring with little ones or hauling expensive photography gear.
Camping at Escalante State Park
Escalante Petrified Forest State Park is an excellent spot for campers to pitch a tent – or park their RV – for the night. It’s well-equipped with many amenities, including bathrooms and showers, plenty of grills, a fish-cleaning station, spots for sewage disposal, drinking water, and plenty of parking. Unlike some campgrounds, this spot is open year-round.
There are lots of campsites well-suited for families, including some with a great view of the reservoir. Planning a trip with a group? There’s also a group campsite you can reserve with room for up to 50 people.
While reservations aren’t required, they are strongly recommended to ensure you’ve got a spot at the campsite. Reservations can be made four months in advance of your anticipated date, so plan early if you can to snag the best camping spots in the park.
Fishing and Boating at Escalante State Park
Escalante Petrified Forest State Park is situated next to Wide Hollow Reservoir. The water provides a beautiful backdrop for this state park, and it’s a great place to enjoy the outdoors on a warm day.
The reservoir is well-stocked with fish like Largemouth bass, Bluegill, and Smallmouth bass, and locals and tourists alike travel here to spend the day fishing under the sun. If you love to fish, bring your gear and spend a few hours on the banks of the reservoir – and see what you catch!
And if you love to spend time on the water, bring a kayak, a canoe, or a paddleboard – or rent one while you’re there. The water is calm and still, so it’s perfect for watercraft enthusiasts of all levels. And on a hot day, there’s nothing as refreshing as taking a quick dip in the cool, clear water.
Photography at Escalante State Park
Love photography? Whether you’re an experienced photographer or you’re just picking up photography as a hobby, this park is an excellent spot to put your skills to the test. The petrified forest offers a unique backdrop with many interesting features to photograph, and the fact that it isn’t too crowded will give you plenty of time to set up and capture the perfect shot – without other visitors walking through the frame.
Check out the basic photography techniques you can use to capture amazing landscape photos!
Where to Stay Near Escalante Petrified Forest State Park
You’ll find hotels, vacation rentals, and campgrounds in the Escalante, Utah area:
- Hotels near Escalante
- Vacation Rentals near Escalante
- Camping near Escalante
- Rent an RV – have it dropped off at your vacation destination!
If you’ll be visiting Bryce Canyon, you may want to stay closer to Bryce then make a day trip to Escalante:
- Bryce Canyon Places to Stay
- Bryce Canyon Hotels
- Bryce Canyon National Park Camping
- Bryce Canyon National Park RV Vacation
- Best Western Ruby’s Inn – easy access right outside the park
- Best Western Plus – also right outside the park
What to Do Near Escalante Petrified Forest State Park
Escalante Petrified Forest State Park is situated near the small town of Escalante. Boasting a population of under 1000 people, it’s not a bustling city, but you’ll find everything you need here. You can dine at one of the town’s local restaurants, pick up anything you might need at the grocery store, or grab a hotel room if you’d rather not camp.
The park is close to two other Utah National Parks:
And two State Parks:
Plus a few other places to visit in Utah where you can explore the outdoors: