In 1872, Almon Harris Thompson first explored the Escalante River. Thompson was a member of John Wesley Powell's survey party. Thompson decided to name the area after an explorer named Escalante, in which means to escalate upward like stair-steps. This expression describes the plateaus surrounding the park.
A 130-acre Wide Hollow Reservoir provides water recreation and fishing near this park. Off-highway vehicle (OHV) riding areas are also located nearby. This park is an ideal place to visit as well as the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. The visitor center for this park was built in 1991. It features petrified wood, petrified dinosaur bones, ammonite, and shell fossils