In the past week, my boyfriend and I have been traveling from Las Vegas to Michigan. I took this as an opportunity to find some waterfalls that I had been wanting to visit, but were a bit out-of-the-way. One of these is Lower Calf Creek Falls, which is in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Nevada. It is a bit out of the way, and yet still surprisingly well visited.
Lower Calf Creek Falls flows pretty well in many months, which isn’t always the case for many waterfalls in the desert. This probably explains why it is a bit more popular than the average waterfall. It also helps that the hike and the waterfall are both wonderful.
The hike is not particularly difficult, but it is a 6 mile round-trip hike. I have to admit it did feel a bit longer than 6 miles round-trip, but it was still enjoyable. We showed up at 4 pm in early June, and that was honestly the perfect time to start the hike. It was still warm outside, but the hike was mostly shaded, and it cooled down on the return. During the middle of the day, the hike could have been a bit less enjoyable. During other times of the year, you would likely want to get an earlier start.
There aren’t many options to get to the falls. You have to drive on UT-12, either south from Torrey or northwest from Bryce. (Visiting Bryce Canyon National Park and/or Capitol Reef National Park at the same time would definitely be an option.)
The Calf Creek Campground is the starting point for the hike. You follow the trail to the falls…
Accessibility: 7/10 (moderate) Height: 126′ Length of Hike: 6 miles round-trip
Tropic Ditch Falls is a fascinating waterfall. It is not a natural waterfall, at least not in the sense that it wasn’t flowing 100+ years ago. From the National Park Service website: “Mormon farmers diverted water from the East Fork of the Sevier River near Tropic Reservoir to irrigate fields around Tropic City.” (More info here.) In the process, the diversion led to water flowing through uneven terrain, and a waterfall was inadvertently created.
If this is a man-made waterfall, why should you go and visit? Because it’s got some of the most stunningly beautiful colors in the rocks around the waterfall that I have ever seen. (Red Dirt Falls on the island of Kauai is another.) It’s in Bryce Canyon National Park, which is an amazing place to visit. While this is not in the main park thoroughfare, it’s still relatively easy to get to. The hike is short but full of color. I figured even if I didn’t see a waterfall, the views were still worth it. And then when I saw the falls, it just confirmed that.
To get to the main thoroughfare of Bryce Canyon National Park, at the junction of UT-12 and UT-63, you would head south on UT-63. Instead of that, head east (southeast) on UT-12 toward Tropic.
Drive about 3.5 miles on UT-12 to the Mossy Cave Trailhead. If headed southeast, it will be on your right. If I remember correctly, there was more than enough parking there.
Follow the trail. I think there were signs to the waterfall, though I could be wrong. It’s pretty easy, though, just follow the water. I believe I turned right at one point. All in all, it’s about 0.4 miles one-way.
Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Length of Hike: 0.8 miles round-trip