Devil’s Garden Outstanding Natural Area is an easy-to-reach destination along Hole-In-The-Rock Road, south of Escalante, Utah, in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. This relatively small area (compared to the immense empty space that surrounds it) is filled with a variety of sandstone hoodoos and arches, and is easily hike-able.
Devil’s Garden is located south of Utah Route 12, on a side road that branches off from Hole-In-The-Rock Road. From the nearest town, Escalante, drive five miles southeast on U-12, then take Hole-In-The-Rock Road for another 12 miles. Watch for a turn to the right — there is a sign to point you in the right direction. This side road dead-ends at about 1/4 mile, at a parking area. From your car, you’ll be able to see some of the formations. Make your own path hiking south to see even more.
Hole-In-The-Rock Road is usually passable in any kind of car (with the possible exception of the final few miles — check locally before attempting it). Driving to Devil’s Garden, you won’t get anywhere near the questionable portion of the road, so don’t worry (unless recent weather has caused damage). Thanks to the popularity of this area, the side-road is easily passable as well — though you should not make this assumption about many of the other side-roads along Hole-In-The-Rock Road.
I should have driven out to Devil’s Garden to catch the sunset, the day before I drove out Hole-In-The-Rock Road. That evening, I was wandering around Escalante, driving down random roads, hoping to find some unexpected, special place. Little did I know that this excellent collection of photo-friendly rocks was waiting, just a few miles away, and easily accessible.
I didn’t make that discovery until the next morning, as I headed down Hole-In-The-Rock Road on my day-long attempt to reach the end. And the truth is, I almost skipped it, thinking that I would have time at the end of the day to check it out on the return. Hole-In-The-Rock Road has a way of taking more time than you’d expect, and if I had saved Devil’s Garden to the end, I would have missed it altogether. So thankfully, I spent a little time here, early in the day (even though it’s probably not the best time, lighting-wise, for photography).
Devil’s Garden is like an art gallery full of sculptures. None of the formations are especially huge — maybe 20 to 30 feet tall, I’d estimate — so don’t expect to see the kind of landscape that you’d witness in Arches National Park (which also has a “Devil’s Garden” area).
There are no rules here, and no established trails, as far as I could tell. That said, there are plenty of sandy paths marked with countless footprints, so it’s pretty easy to follow behind previous visitors. Wherever possible, you can hop off the sand and onto the slickrock, and climb up as far as possible. You should not, however, go rock climbing, or try to cross over the arches.
This is Metate Arch, one of the more graceful arch formations in Devil’s Garden. The other arch I saw was somewhat chunky and rough, but Metate Arch is quite thin and delicate.
Hike up one side of the garden (the east side, I’m assuming, based on my shadow), and you’ll be walking across the sandstone which, down below, has eroded away. It’s a good place to get a lay of the land and figure out your next move. If you walked straight ahead, past the hoodoos, you’d end up in a dry wash, which provides a good path for returning to the car (just in case you get turned around).
This is that “chunky” arch I was talking about. It’s called Mano Arch.
I’m not the only one that sees a face here, am I?
Photographed in just the right way, those hoodoos start to look like people.
I wish I had found time to stop by here again, at the end of the day. I would have loved to see everything in a different light. Of course, if I had just driven out the night before… oh well. There’s always next time — and there’s enough to see along Hole-In-The-Rock Road that I’ll probably be here again, someday.
You should certainly try to make it out to Devil’s Garden — whether or not you’re planning to drive the entire length of Hole-In-The-Rock Road. If possible, visit in early morning and just before sunset, for the best light for photography. If you’re concerned about the dirt road, check locally on road conditions — but I highly doubt it will be a problem.
Check out this time-lapse, dash-cam video of the drive south, from Escalante, Utah to Hole-In-The-Rock…
… and the drive back, from Hole-In-The-Rock to U-12: