Escalante-Dominguez Trail (North Warner Valley)

Escalante-Dominguez Trail (North Warner Valley)



Atanasio Domínguez and Silvestre Vélez de Escalante were Franciscan priests who led an exploration party trying to find an efficient route from Santa Fe New Mexico, to Monterrey, California in 1776. This expedition was the first time that Europeans saw much of the areas in Utah, Colorado, and Northern Arizona. The attempt was not successful in finding the desired route, resulting in the group heading south through Southern Utah. This marker and others like it helps document the exact path taken by this party.

Elevation Range:   20 ft
Low Elevation:   3200 ft
High Elevation:   3220 ft
Distance:   0.5 miles
Area:   Warner Valley
Cost:   Free
Rating:    (2.0)
Aerobic Intensity:    (2.0)
Technical Difficulty:    (1.0)
Scenery:    (2.0)
  1 ratings
Last Edited: Oct 05, 2016


This marker was placed several decades ago as part of an effort by the BLM to indicate the path of the Ecalante/Dominguex expedition througout the southwetern United States.  The marker is accessible by a short hike of a few hundred yards beyond the parking lot for the Warner Valley Dinosaur track site, or by ATV from the Warner Valley ATV trail network.

Escalante and Dominguez wanted to find a new travel route from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Monterey, California, but the primary goal was one of exploration and missionary work.  Along the way, they hoped to convert as many of the native people to Catholicism as possible. On July 29 1776, the two priests and seven men left the Santa Fe and headed northwest towards what is now Colorado. Over a several month period they continued in a northwesterly direction, generally circling around the colorado plateau region.

Their reception among different groups of indians varied, ranging from outright acceptance and success in their missionary efforts to mistrust and efforts to derail their expidition.  Some of the indians even joined their expidition as guides.

While the group initially travelled quickly and made good progress, they eventually had winter start to catch up to them.  As is the case in many different tales of explorers, trappers, and pioneers, they experienced hardships and were forced to change their plans.  The group determined that they would be unable to reach California, and they started to head south in order to return to Santa Fe.  Along the way they ran out of food, were forced to eat their horses, and kept trying to cross the expanse of the Grand Canyon.

Over a time period of about 5 months, the expedition crossed through what became known as the following areas:

  • Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Dulce, New Mexico
  • Durango, Colorado
  • Mesa Verde, Colorado
  • Bowie, Colorado
  • Green River, Utah
  • Strawbery Valley, Utah
  • Utah Lake, Utah
  • Milford, Utah
  • Kanarraville, Utah
  • Toquerville, Utah
  • Huricanne, Utah
  • Warner Valley, Utah
  • Paria River, Arizona
  • Lees Ferry, Arizona
  • Oraybi, New Mexico
  • Santa Fe, New Mexico

After all their tribulations, the group finally arrived at Santa Fe on January 2, 1777.  They had covered nearly 1770 miles during their travels, and with the exception of finding their way to California they considered their journey a success.  Their history and the efforts of their cartographer were used for many decades afterwards as travel and settling in the area continued.


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 Getting There

  1. Take Hwy 7, Southern Pwky, driving East away from 1-15.
  2. Drive for 10.3 miles to the Warner Valley Rd exit
  3. On Warner Valley Road, travel southeast for 8 miles
  4. At the sign for the Warner Valley Dinosaur tracks, turn left
  5. After about 1/4 mile, the road will finish at the parking lot.
  6. Exit the parking lot to the West, and follow the ATV trail around the outside of the fenced-off dinosair track site
  7. At the northwest corner of the fenced area, continue following the trail roughtly Northeast for 200 more yards