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Christa Sadler: Phipps Arch Exploration

September 15 @ 7:30 am - 2:30 pm

NOTE: Limited to 10 participants.  To RSVP, please sign up here.  Carpool out to Escalante River Trailhead from GSEP Office.

Phipps Arch is a massive sandstone arch that sits high above Phipps Wash, a tributary to the Escalante River—an area rich in natural and human history: geology, biology, archeology, and even some pioneer history. We’ll wander along the river and up Phipps Wash to the climb that takes us up to and even under the arch. Along the way we’ll see what we find, discuss the extraordinary things this area has to show us—the riparian oasis of the Escalante River; ancient dune fields that were home to dinosaurs millions of years ago; landforms strange enough to be from another planet; ancient peoples and the lives they lived on this land. This is a great hike—one that requires a little effort but yields many wonderful and scenic rewards.

HIKE DETAILS: 6.5 miles round trip, roughly 300-foot elevation change, one way. Participants will need to cross the Escalante River several times. The walk is easy and relatively level until the last few hundred yards. At that point the trail ascends, and to get all the way to the arch, hikers must climb through a 10-to-12-foot cliff band. We will provide support and help, but it requires a few climbing moves, an adventurous spirit, and that you not be unusually afraid of heights. 


  • Walking sticks if you like them
  • Good shoes – low hikers with good soles, not big leather hiking boots. NO TEFLON-SOLED TENNIES – shoes with good soles that can also get wet.
  • At least 3 liters of water
  • A decent daypack
  • Lunch and snacks
  • Sunscreen, sunglasses, and hat
  • Bring a camera, and small binoculars if you have them.

As a teacher, naturalist, author, and guide, Christa Sadler has called the Colorado Plateau home for more than three decades. She holds a Master’s degree in earth sciences and paleontology from Northern Arizona University, and a bachelor’s degree in physical anthropology from the University of California Berkeley. Christa has been boating, hiking, teaching, and writing in the landscapes of southern Utah since 1988 and has published numerous books and articles about the region. Her publications include: There’s This River: Grand Canyon Boatman Stories; Dawn of the Dinosaurs: The Late Triassic in the American Southwest; Life in Stone: Fossils of the Colorado Plateau; Where Dinosaurs Roamed: Lost Worlds of Utah’s Grand Staircase and The Colorado. There is nothing in the world she loves as much as exploring this environment, alone or with others who enjoy learning and being in these lands.


September 15
7:30 am - 2:30 pm
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Meet at Grand Staircase Escalante Partners Office
530 West Main Street
Escalante, Utah 84726
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