CalfCreekCanyon

Calf Creek Canyon Recreation Area is on Scenic Byway 12 between Escalante and Boulder.
Calf Creek Canyon got its name when homesteaders weaned their calves in the box canyon
and erected a fence across the narrowest part of the canyon, part of which can still be seen.
Lush riparian vegetation surrounds Calf Creek on a trail between Navajo Sandstone cliffs,
which leads to a 126 foot waterfall considered to be the most elegant in the Southwest.

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Direct Link to the Calf Creek Canyon gallery:

Calf Creek Canyon

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Calf Creek Canyon Hogback Grand Staircase 0819
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Calf Creek Canyon and Escalante Canyon from the road traversing the Hogback near Boulder, Utah.

One of the wildest and most scenic highways in South-Central Utah, the section of Scenic Byway 12
that traverses the Hogback was completed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1938. Once called
the Million Dollar Road to Boulder (in Depression-era dollars), the road was the first into the remote
wilderness area, allowing travelers and mail to enter via auto rather than by mule train. The two lane
road across the Hogback Ridge runs over a narrow spine with precipitous drop-offs on both sides,
no guard rails, no pull-outs, 14 percent grades and spectacular views of the Escalante Canyon.

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Calf Creek Canyon Moenkopi Ledges 0843
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Across from the campground at the entrance to Calf Creek Canyon are deep
red layered sandstone ledges of the Moenkopi Formation. Laid down early in the
Triassic period, Moenkopi Formation sediments contain numerous marine fossils.

The hike to Lower Calf Creek Falls is 5.4 miles round-trip, on a lightly inclined sandy trail.

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Calf Creek Canyon 0847
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Red, tan and white streaked Navajo Sandstone cliffs at the beginning of the trail entering Calf Creek Canyon.

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Calf Creek Canyon 0848
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Navajo Sandstone was laid down at the end of the Triassic period, when the area was covered with huge sand dunes.

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Calf Creek Canyon 0858
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At the entrance to the canyon are Juniper, Pinyon and grass.

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Calf Creek Canyon 0859
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On the far right is the Calf Creek Amphitheater formation.

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Calf Creek Canyon 0862
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Navajo Sandstone cliffs forming the southwestern wall of Calf Creek Canyon, showing two distinct layers of the geology.

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Calf Creek Canyon 0865
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Navajo Sandstone cliffs atop a bed of Kayenta Sandstone, laid down in the humid mid-to-late Jurassic period.

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Calf Creek Canyon Amphitheater 0867
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Desert Varnish streaks the natural acoustic shell above the Calf Creek Amphitheater.

Desert Varnish is a dark coating on exposed rock surfaces which forms in arid environments.
Formed of wind-blown clay, iron oxide, manganese oxide and organic matter, desert varnish
was often used by Native American cultures as a canvas for petroglyphs and pictographs.
A group of thousand year old Fremont Culture Pictographs can be seen below.

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Calf Creek Canyon Amphitheater 0869
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At the right edge of the arch in the left center of the wall at left are the group of three Amphitheater pictographs. The more famous group of Calf Creek Pictographs are further below.

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Calf Creek Canyon Amphitheater 0872
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Detail of the natural acoustic shell which stands behind the Calf Creek Amphitheater. Note the dark brown streak of desert varnish at right, marking the path of runoff from above.

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Calf Creek Canyon Amphitheater 0870
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The Calf Creek Canyon Amphitheater, with desert varnish streaking its natural acoustic shell.

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Direct Link to the Calf Creek Canyon gallery:

Calf Creek Canyon

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Fremont Pictographs Calf Creek Canyon 0877
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Two of the seven available images of the Calf Creek Canyon Pictographs are displayed here (to the right is a detail crop of roughly 50% of this image to show greater detail).

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Fremont Pictographs Calf Creek Canyon 0877c
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This pictograph dates from the period prior to 1000 AD, and depicts two warrior figures flanking a shaman figure, with a smaller shaman figure in a lined robe at the lower right.

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Fremont Pictographs Calf Creek Canyon 0954
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A Pictograph is painted on a rock surface rather than incised or pecked into the surface.

The interpretation given above is the most common interpretation of these pictographs.
Others include that they are deities or cultural heroes, or a depiction of a ceremony or event.

This pictograph is on the eastern Navajo Sandstone wall two miles up Calf Creek Canyon.
Click the text link at the end of this line to see more images of Fremont and Anasazi Petroglyphs.

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Calf Creek Canyon Eye Alcove 0883
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The eye-shaped arch and alcove in the eastern wall of Calf Creek Canyon.

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Calf Creek Canyon Eye Alcove 0945
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This view taken on the way back from the falls shows the very dark manganese rich desert varnish north of the alcove.

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Calf Creek Canyon Eye Alcove 0884
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The Eye Alcove looms over the lush riparian vegetation which surrounds Calf Creek in the middle of the canyon.

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Calf Creek Canyon Eye Alcove 0887
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The Eye Alcove in the Navajo Sandstone cliffs of Calf Creek Canyon.

There is a nearly identical shot further below, taken two hours later on the way back.

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Calf Creek Canyon Eye Alcove 0886
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Calf Creek Canyon Eye Alcove 0950
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Two shots of the Eye Alcove, taken near noon (left) and 2 PM from the south.

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Calf Creek Canyon Eye Alcove 0948
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Close detail of the Eye Alcove, taken near 2 PM from directly opposite the formation.

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Calf Creek Canyon Eye Alcove 0949
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The Eye Alcove in Calf Creek Canyon, framed by riparian vegetation around Calf Creek.
Cottonwood and Box Elder are found along the stream, and are often used by beavers for dams.

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
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There are 7 Galleries in the Photoshelter Grand Staircase Escalante Collection

Direct Link to the Calf Creek Canyon gallery:

Calf Creek Canyon

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Calf Creek Canyon 0891
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The Navajo Sandstone cliffs in the narrow box canyon area of Calf Creek Canyon.

This narrow section of the canyon, filled with lush vegetation around Calf Creek, was
fenced in and used by early settlers to wean their calves, giving the canyon its name.

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Calf Creek Canyon 0892
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Navajo Sandstone cliffs over the riparian area of Calf Creek Canyon.

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Calf Creek Canyon 0894
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The trail passes beside the creek in the riparian area of Calf Creek Canyon.

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Calf Creek Canyon 0900
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Western cliff wall beside the Calf Creek Canyon riparian area.

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Calf Creek Canyon 0896
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Eastern cliff wall beside the Calf Creek Canyon riparian area.

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Calf Creek Canyon 0897
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Desert varnish streaks the Navajo Sandstone walls over the Calf Creek Canyon riparian area.

Just beyond this section, the trail passes through a jungle-like area before Lower Calf Creek Falls.

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Lower Calf Creek Falls 0906
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Lower Calf Creek Falls in the early afternoon, just before the afternoon shadows begin to cover the waterfall.

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Lower Calf Creek Falls 0916
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Lower Calf Creek Falls is a unique desert waterfall, dropping 126 feet over a Navajo Sandstone cliff into an emerald pool.

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Lower Calf Creek Falls 0921
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Lower Calf Creek Falls is considered to be the most elegant desert waterfall in the Southwest.

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Lower Calf Creek Falls 0923
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As the swirling winds hit the falls, they push the water to the side, creating a beautifully braided look.

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Lower Calf Creek Falls 0925
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Lower Calf Creek Falls is formed when Calf Creek plunges over a precipice,
through a V-shaped notch in the Navajo Sandstone wall. It plunges straight down
several feet onto a ledge, then springs out into space beyond an overhang gouged
into the cliff face. The falls then cascade down the cliff into the emerald pool below.
The white water of the falls contrast strongly with the reddish sandstone and blue
and green algae that has taken hold on sections of the cliff nearest the water.

By making use of the early-afternoon shadows, I was able to shoot with a
longer exposure (1/4 second), allowing me to achieve the misty look
seen in the last four images. These are five of the eight available
images of Lower Calf Creek Falls, each showing a different
view of the braided character as the wind hits the falls.

Arrive by mid-morning to see the falls in full sunlight.

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Grand Staircase Escalante Collection where a Gallery can be selected.

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There are 7 Galleries in the Photoshelter Grand Staircase Escalante Collection

Direct Link to the Calf Creek Canyon gallery:

Calf Creek Canyon

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