The Devils Garden Outstanding Natural Area is a six hundred acre BLM property full of weird and wonderful rock formations. The Devils Garden ONA is located inside the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in the central-western region of the state of Utah. These unique BLM lands are crammed full of incredible sandstone features created by the erosive action of the area's harsh elements. Surrounded by low-lying shrub-covered washes, the rock arches, hoodoos, and slot canyons form a veritable fantasy castle-like labyrinth rising up from the desert landscape.
The Devils Garden ONA is for day-use activities only. Hiking along the footpaths through the rock formations, picnicking and just enjoying the unusual scenery are what draws most visitors to the area. The Devils Garden is also a favorite spot for photographers to unleash their creative muse on some still-life subjects with the stunning Utah sky as a background. It doesn't take long to explore the Devils Garden in its entirety, but that's not too much of a problem as there are endless opportunities for more outdoor recreation nearby. Take a scenic drive along the All American Road or tour the Big Water Visitor Center and Dinosaur Museum. Go waterfall viewing or off-roading on the many trails of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and for the intrepid adventurer, there's whitewater rafting on the Escalante River.
All vehicle access to the Devils Garden Outstanding Natural Area is strictly prohibited. Overnight stays are also prohibited, so there are no campgrounds in the ONA but dispersed tent camping is allowed on the roadside outside of the boundary. Campgrounds suitable for RV camping can be found in the Bryce Canyon National Park or the Kodachrome Basin State Park to the east, the Capitol Reef National Park to the north or at privately run campgrounds in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
The Devils Garden ONA can be reached from the UT 12 near Escalante by following a signed graded road for approximately twelve miles. The road is known as the Hole-In-The-Rock Road or the BLM 200. It's a road that is accessible for most vehicles all year unless there have been heavy rains when it can turn into a quagmire impassable even for four by fours.
If you're heading to the Devils Garden ONA after RV camping in the Dixie National Forest, take the UT 143 to Panguitch where you can join the UT 12 to both Bryce or Escalante. If you're pitching camp in the Bryce Canyon National Park turn off onto the UT 63 in Bryce and it will take you to the park entrance and visitor center. Expect to be on the road for around an hour before you're pitching camp again.
If you're motoring south from the Fishlake National Forest, once you're through Marysvale, it'll take you roughly two hours to reach Escalante. Both routes are along well-maintained highways which should prove no problem in a rig. The only section of road that might give large rig drivers some extra work is the UT 12 between Bryce and Escalante as it has a few winding twists and turns.
There is a parking lot at the end of the Hole-In-The-Rock Road at the entrance to the Devils Garden ONA.
The Bryce Canyon National Park is located one hour's drive west from Escalante along the UT 12. There are two campgrounds in the national park which are suitable for RVs. They are the North Campground and the Sunset Campground.
The North Campground is the first one reached after passing the Visitor Center on the UT 63 at the park entrance. There are four loops in the campground but only two, loops A and B, are for RVs. There are forty-nine campsites on those loops which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. The pitches have no utility hook-ups and a small fee is charged for using the dump station. The campground is open all year round, but access can be difficult during the winter if there has been a heavy snowfall. There are no on-site amenities, although there is a general store with a laundry facility ten minutes' walk from the campground.
The Sunset Campground is located further inside the national park a five-minute drive along the UT 63 from the Visitor Center. There are three loops in the campground, only one of which, loop A, is for RVs. There are no utility hook-ups at any of the campsites. From 2020 onwards the campground will operate on a first-come-first served basis from mid-April to mid-May and for the last two weeks of October. Reservations will be required for pitches from Mid-May through to mid-October and these can be obtained from recreation.gov.
The Fruita Campground is in the Capitol Reef National Park and around a one and a half hour's drive north of Escalante. There are over seventy pitches at the campground with picnic tables, fire rings, and grills, although none are fitted with utility hook-ups.
The Fruita Campground is open twelve months of the year. Reservations are only required from March to the end of October. From November to the end of February the campground operates a first-come-first-served system. The on-site facilities are limited to restrooms with flush toilets but no showers. A dump station and water are available at the campground.
Hiking through the Devils Garden Outstanding Natural Area is literally a scenic stroll in the park. While there are no defined trails, it is well-trodden terrain and there are many footpaths winding around the rock formations which have been created by the passage of previous explorers.
If you're traveling with your four-legged best friend, they're allowed to be off-leash in the ONA as long as they are under control and you don't leave any unsightly deposits behind.
Close by the Devils Garden ONA is one of the most exciting whitewater challenges in Utah. The Escalante River is a difficult run when in full flood and for experienced whitewater rafters only.
You can enter the water at the Escalante River Bridge Trailhead which is east of the town of Escalante. Getting back out again is not so easy and can take several days so be prepared for some overnight outback camping along the way.
Stop off at the Escalante Heritage Center in Escalante to find out about the Hole-In-The-Rock expedition of the late nineteenth century. The museum has exhibits and artefacts relating to the epic pioneering journey of the Mormon missionaries as they travelled through Utah on their way south in eighty wagons. The museum is only open from March to October from nine in the morning until five in the afternoon.
The All American Road Scenic Byway 12 is one-hundred and twenty-plus miles of first-class highway winding through some of Utah's most incredible countryside.
Join the byway in Panguitch and it'll take you in a north-easterly direction skirting the borders of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, through stunning rock arches, pine forests, meadowlands, and the Boulder Mountains. It's a scenic drive that will take your breath away.
The rock arches and hoodoos of the Devils Garden ONA make great photographic subjects. Extra interest is added by the multi-colored layering in the rock.
The arches can form a rock frame around another object like a pine tree, cloud or distant landscape. It's a place that will really get those artistic juices flowing especially if you can make it there for sunrise, sunset or when there's a full moon. The shadows the hoodoos cast can turn them into quite spooky images.
To discover more about the unusual rock formations of the Devils Garden ONA and surrounding terrains make a visit to the BLM managed Big Water Visitor Center near Kanab.
There you'll find lots of interesting and in-depth information about the geology of the region plus a museum of dinosaur skeletons that have been excavated from the area. The fossilized remains of the prehistoric creatures are a fascinating insight into the mammoth mammals that once inhabited the earth.