Calf Creek Canyon is a short scenic canyon (less than ten miles long) along Scenic Byway 12 (SB12) between Escalante and Boulder in south-central Utah, partially inside the Phipps-Death Hollow Wilderness Instant Study Area (map).
Calf Creek is a rare year-round stream in the desert, with two interesting waterfalls: Lower Calf Creek Falls and Upper Calf Creek Falls, and the BLM Calf Creek Recreation Area (CCRA). Scenic Byway 12 enters the canyon at its southern end from Escalante Canyon, meets the road to CCRA just before SB12 climbs onto Haymaker Bench and follows alongside the canyon on a hogback.
Calf Creek Recreation Area (elev. 5,346, 1,629.5 m) has a 13-site campground, five individual picnic units, a group picnic area, and a trailhead for the 2¾ mile (4.4 km) one-way interpretive trail to the 126-foot Lower Calf Creek Falls. The campground provides small sites on a first-come, first-served basis. The day-use fee is $5 per car (for picnics, hiking, photos, etc.), the camping fee is $10 (fees subject to change).
The 2¾ mile hike from the campground to the lower falls is relatively easy - sandy, with little elevation change. Hiking the upper falls is a different story - there are three main trails, all are significantly more difficult - they are described in the next paragraph.
The trailhead for the west side trail to the upper falls is at the end of an unmarked bumpy jeep trail crossing an airstrip from the junction of SB12 and Hell's Backbone Road between mileposts 81 and 82. The trailhead for the east side trail to the upper falls is on the west side of SB12 south of Hell's Backbone. Both trails are 1 mile, difficult, steep trails down slickrock canyon walls. The 1½ mile trail through the rugged wilderness between the falls is possible for seasoned canyoneers. All three trails intersect between the falls. These trails are shown on the Trails to the Falls map.
Select Photo Gallery to view individual photos of Calf Creek Canyon and Calf Creek Lower and Upper Falls. The gallery has an auto-show of photos.
SB12 Map shows the location of Calf Creek Canyon on Scenic Byway 12 between Escalante and Boulder.
CCRA Image is a Google Earth satellite image of the BLM campground.
Trails to the Falls is a map from Tom's Canyoneering of the trails to both falls from the upper falls north-side and east-side trails.