By Michael Lanza

Explore slot canyons so narrow you have to take off your daypack and turn sideways to squeeze through. Dayhike to a waterfall that pours 126 feet over a multi-colored cliff into a perfect swimming hole. Backpack one of southern Utah’s most achingly gorgeous and family-friendly canyons. And that merely scrapes the surface of this weeklong adventure in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The photo gallery below offers a peek behind the curtain of this less-busy corner of the Southwest’s canyonlands.

On a weeklong trip dayhiking and backpacking in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef national parks, my family and another explored the slot canyons Peek-a-Boo Gulch and Spooky Gulch, hiked to Lower Calf Creek Falls, and backpacked for three days in Coyote Gulch, all in the Escalante. We also notched three stunning, half-day hikes in Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef.

All in all, it was a memorable tour of three public lands in the middle of the chain of five national parks in southern Utah, and a week in which we spent a lot more time hiking than driving.

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Click on any one of the pictures from the Escalante to scroll through the gallery below, then read my story “Playing the Memory Game in Southern Utah’s Escalante, Capitol Reef, and Bryce Canyon” about this trip for inspiration, more photos, videos, and tips on how to plan it yourself.

And see all of my stories about hiking and backpacking in southern Utah at The Big Outside.

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Do you like The Big Outside? I’m Michael Lanza, the creator of The Big Outside, recognized as a top outdoors blog by a USA Today Readers Choice poll and others. Subscribe for updates about new stories and free gear giveaways by entering your email address in the box at the bottom of this story, at the top of the left sidebar, or on my About page, and follow my adventures on Facebook and Twitter.

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