Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Upper Calf Creek Falls in the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, Utah

         Waterfalls posses the power to captivate and mesmerize.  Whether a small cascade or the legendary Niagara Falls, falling water stimulates our senses and refreshes our spirits. Think about the last time you visited a waterfall.  Weren't you transfixed by the rhythm of sight and sound as the water danced over rocks and plunged into the pool below?

         Now imagine the delightful surprise of finding a waterfall in the desert.  Calf Creek Recreation Area, part of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in south-central Utah, boasts two of these watery wonders.  Upper and Lower Calf Creek Falls were formed as tiny Calf Creek cut through Navajo Sandstone on its way from the Boulder Mountains to the Escalante River.   While both falls offer a great reward for your effort, the lower falls see swarms of people all lured by easy access from the nearby campground along a well-worn trail.  The upper falls, by contrast, is not as easily accessed and thus not as heavily visited.

Looking across this terrain you'd never guess what lays
below.  Following this trail to find Upper Calf Creek Falls
is like following a treasure map to find hidden jewels.

Found it!  One of the desert's hidden jewels—
Upper Calf Creek Falls.

Indian Paintbrush provides a splash of color
in the sun-bleached landscape.

Several pools above the falls offer places to take a swim,
or soak your tired feet.

           It's been several years since we hiked the trail to Upper Calf Creek Falls.  As travel to southern Utah has increased exponentially in recent years, I can't guarantee that these falls are as lightly explored.  However, hidden wonders that are difficult to access are still less likely to host visitors.  For adventure, splendor, and solitude, visit this hidden desert treasure if you're traveling through the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.  For more information, click on this link:,-upper-trail


  1. Rita, you really should try to sell your pieces to travel magazines like the one we get from Triple A. Your writing is informative, interesting, and concise with active verbs and specific details. Your photographs are splendid. You deserve a huge audience. If I weren't busy doing things like poetry challenges, I'd ask if I could be your agent.

    1. Janet, when I read your work I'm so impressed by your use of language to bring words to life through the use of splendid imagery and evocative descriptions. Therefore I'm especially grateful to receive your kind critique of the writing in my posts.
      Thanks so much. I would love to have you as my agent!

  2. There is a symmetry and rhythm in your pictures Rita, as the picture of the paintbrush shows, an unexpected burst of color!
    In the picture of the Upper Falls, you have captured the heights from which the water tumbles down, if you have another that shows the pool beneath, mirroring the sky above, perhaps, would it be possible for you to include that as well?

    1. Hi Soumyendu,

      Isn't it wonderful to find a flower in such an unexpected place?

      Many times when I photograph a body of water I try for the mirror or reflection effect. So I searched my photos from this trip to Upper Calf Creek and no, I didn't take a photo of any of the pools mirroring the sky. That gives me another reason to go back to this beautiful spot!

      Thanks for your comments!

  3. Well first of all Rita, I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiments expressed by Janet regarding the excellent quality of your writing and photos. You have my highest admiration.

    And regarding Upper Calf Creek Falls, indeed what a delightful surprise to find a waterfall in the desert. Your photos and narration about this place are also delight!

    Just as a side note, during my off-trail (bushwhack) adventures, I will sometimes come across places of beauty that are rarely visited. It's become a bit of a mental dilemma as to whether to let these places continue to live out their peaceful and private existence, or to share such places through my blog and/or other social media. Most often, I end up writing about many of them in one manner or another. As a trusted friend once told me, the vast majority of folks will shun the effort required to reach remote places, and those who do take up the challenge will most likely treat such places with the same respect as I do.

    1. First, thanks so much for your kind words!

      Second, I love the words of wisdom from your trusted friend.
      How true. I agree that it's unlikely our special and remote places will be destroyed by hordes of people—as long as some effort is required to access them.

      But, even if most people never visit them, I think it's important that both of our blogs continue to remind people that beautiful places still exist. I hope our words and photographs will encourage readers to care about these treasures of the natural world.

  4. Hi Rita,

    Chiming in a little late, but in total agreement with your other fans that your writing and photography deserves as wide an audience as possible!

    You always convey beauty, magic and a unique sense of place wherever you journey.

    I think a book of "One Day in America" - with photos, of course! - would make a terrific travel guide.

    What a great photo of the waterfall! Does it wax and wane, like the one at Yosemite, depending on time of year?

    Thanks for a great read,

    1. Hi Vickie,

      Thanks for chiming in with your kind compliments. I would love to see "One Day in America" become a best-selling travel guide someday! (And I would be sure to give you a complimentary copy.)

      To answer your question: A natural spring feeds Calf Creek and therefore the flow is fairly constant, no matter the time of year. This is unlike many other streams and waterfalls in the west, which are dependent on snowfall and runoff.

      Thanks as always for your comments, Vickie. I appreciate it.