Visit Escalante Petrified Forest State Park And Hike The Sleeping Rainbow Trail

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One of the last posts I have for our spring Escalante trip is about the Escalante Petrified Forest State Park and the Sleeping Rainbow Trail!

This was actually our first stop when we got to Escalante and we spent a few hours there that afternoon. It was somewhere that we always drove past but never stopped at and knowing we were going to be transferring to South Lake, we decided why not go now.

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Turns out it didn’t really matter because Page is about the same distance from Escalante as Bullfrog. I’m still glad we finally went and got to see it, though because otherwise I still would have wondered.

This turned out to be a summer of “might as well go since we’re here, I’ve wanted to go forever.” And most of the places that were on that list just turned out to be OK so I’m glad I saw them but also got them over with in a way (not a bad way.)

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Once we were at the park we headed up the Petrified Forest Trail, huffing and puffing the whole way even though it’s not that much elevation gain, wondering where all the petrified wood was.

Finally at the top of the Mesa we started to see some petrified wood scattered around with a wonderful view of Escalante, too. Finally wee got to the split and headed down Sleeping Rainbow Trail and this was the petrified wood gold mine.

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If you want to see a lot of it and some pretty colorful pieces, this is a must-do. There are also some huge pieces of it along this trail. These logs are all shapes, sizes, and colors and line the sides of the trail.

There was a lot of up and down on this part of the trail but, again, it’s nothing super difficult. The trail is packed dirt but had like, a dusting of dirt on top of it? It made the trail a little slippery almost and on one of the “up” sections my right foot slipped under me and I scraped the top of my foot on the ground and that knee was all bruised with my left leg in front of me.

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It made for an uncomfortable walk back and now I have a little hole in my what were new overalls, but it could have been worse. So basically, just be careful with your footing.

After that I was ready to get back to the car and we headed to the Canyon Country Lodge where we were staying and set out to find some food which wasn’t very good.

Overall it was a pretty enjoyable experience. It wasn’t the best thing ever but I’m glad we went and finally got to see it. I’m not in a huge rush to go back but I won’t say I’ll never go back.

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Where is the Escalante Petrified Forest State Park

The state park is just 2.3 miles from the town of Escalante on Scenic Byway 12, towards Bryce canyon. The parking area is well marked and there is a one mile hike with 200 feet of elevation gain to the actual petrified forest.

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How long do you need for the Escalante Petrified Forest State Park?

1-3 hours depending on what you want to do, how fast you walk, how much you stop, all that good stuff. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon or as a stop on a long drive to stretch your legs a bit. There is an $8 fee for day use in the park.

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How long is the Sleeping Rainbow Trail at Escalante Petrified Forest

The Sleeping Rainbow Trail is 1.75 miles and it’s an additional loop off of the main Petrified Forest Trail. The extra loop that makes up the Sleeping Rainbow Trail is 0.75 miles and takes you to even more petrified wood than the main trail.

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Other things to do near Escalante Petrified Forest State Park

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What to bring on the Rainbow Trail Hike

Hiking poles – These will be helpful on longer hikes that are on the steeper side.  They’ll be good if you have bad knees for when you’re going downhill and will give you something to lean on going up the hills.

Snacks – These are more important for long hikes, but you never know when you’ll get hungry!  I like EPIC bars (kind of like beef jerky but different), Sahale nut mix things, and Moon Cheese.  There’s always the good old Clif Bars and trail mix, too.

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Water bottle – It’ll be hot and humid and you’ll need to stay hydrated.  A Hydro Flask will keep your water ice cold all day long.

Sunscreen – If you plan on being outside, you’ll want sunscreen.  I like the Neutrogena a lot, but if you’ll be visiting a beach soon, you’ll want a reef-safe sunscreen.

Hat – You’ll want some kind of hat to keep the sun out of your eyes.  A baseball hat should be fine but a bucket hat or sun hat could help keep the sun off your neck.

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Sunglasses – This is a must, especially with the strong desert sun.  Sunglasses are best paired with a hat on those really bright days.

Light Jacket – Because you just never know.  Weather can change quickly depending on where you are and if you’ll be in any slot canyons, they can get cool depending on the time of day and season.  I usually use my rain jacket for this.

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Is the Escalante Petrified Forest State Park worth it?

I think so! It’s not the coolest petrified wood out there, but there is a lot of it on this trail which is pretty awesome. I would definitely say it’s worth it if you’ve never seen petrified wood before. It’s also great if you have a few hours to spare.

Have you been to the Escalante Petrified Forest State Park? What did you think of it? Have you seen petrified wood? Where?

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