Escalante Grand Staircase

Escalante Grand Staircase Collections

Escalante Grand Staircase

Escalante Grand Staircase

Utah’s Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument encompasses 1.9 million acres of spectacular wilderness. The vast and varied landscape offers unparalleled opportunities for scientists and visitors alike to experience the effects of millions of years of geological history. Reaching from the town of Escalante at the northeast end to Kanab in the southwest, the monument covers an area roughly the size of Delaware and was the last region in America to be explored. Grand Staircase Escalante is the first national monument managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) instead of the National Park Service (NPS). Geology Sixty million years ago most of southwestern Utah was covered by lakes, and over eons the lake sediment hardened into rock. The ‘staircase’ was formed when the area now known as the Colorado plateau lifted, causing the layers of sedimentary rock below to fan out. The exposed layers revealed a four-billion-year timeline of geological history; the lower, chocolate steps are located to the south in the Grand Canyon region, while the upper, geologically youngest layer makes up the pink cliffs of the Grand Staircase to the north. Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument is divided into three topographically-distinct regions: the cliffs of Grand Staircase; the central, fossil-rich Kaiparowits Plateau; and the dramatic Escalante Canyons. Climate and Geography Grand Staircase Escalante is comprised of remote, rugged landscape and contains nearly double the total combined acreage of all of Utah’s national parks. The two major rivers in the region are the Paria and the Escalante. Explorers should be aware of environmental threats such as extreme temperatures, sudden storms, flash floods, deep water in slot canyons, quicksand, slick rock, and steep cliffs. Biology The fauna and flora found in Grand Staircase Escalante is as varied as the landscape. The 1.9 million acres are home to 200 species of birds, including the endangered (and rarely sighted) Bald Eagle and Peregrine Falcon; nearly 60 species of mammals; dozens of reptiles and amphibians; and several types of fish. Fremont Cottonwood trees thrive in the moist soil of the Escalante River Canyon area, while pinion pine, juniper, and sagebrush are common in the Grand Staircase region. Utah’s state flower, the Sego Lily, can be found throughout the monument boundaries. Recreational Activities Camping, hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, off-roading, and photography are popular activities. Visitor centers are located in Kanab, Escalante, Cannonville, Paria, and Anasazi State Park. Visitors must keep in mind that this is mostly undeveloped territory, and the BLM recommends camping only in established campgrounds. There are no facilities, so campers are responsible for properly disposing of waste and litter. Most hiking routes are not well marked, although there are several oft-used and well-worn paths. Lower Calf Creek Falls is a moderate-to-difficult 5.5-mile round trip hike along a developed trail, and there are several major trailheads with access to the Escalante River. Challenging hikes through the cliffs and slot canyons include Death Hollow, The Gulch, and Twenty-mile Wash. Backcountry hikers are required to obtain permits for overnight hikes at Escalante Interagency Visitor Center. Some of the more accessible areas for day-trippers are the Devil’s Garden Natural Area and Grosvenor Arch. Vehicles can tour Utah Scenic Byway 12 or U.S. Route 89 for magnificent, changing vistas. There are also a number of partially-paved or dirt and gravel roads, including Hole-in-the-Rock Road, Cottonwood Canyon Road, Johnson Canyon/Skutumpah Road, Pahreah Townsite Road, and Burr Trail. Top sites in the monument and surrounding region include Calf Creek Falls, Canyons of the Escalante, Burr Trail, Anasazi Indian State Park, Escalante State Park, Johnson Canyon, Bull Valley Gorge, Grosvenor Arch, Kodachrome Basin State Park, and Bryce Canyon National Park. History The earliest humans known to occupy the area were the Basketmaker people and the Anasazi Indians, beginning around 500 A.D. The Fremont, Hopi, and Paiute also briefly occupied the area. The Escalante River Canyons presented a barrier to exploration until the Powell expeditions in the mid-1800s. In 1941 the NPS began studying the Escalante River area, the last in America to be discovered and mapped. The region was declared a national monument in 1996, under executive order by President Bill Clinton.
escalante grand staircase 1

Escalante Grand Staircase

The allure of Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument (GSENM) is phenomenal. Nearly 3,000 square miles of sun-drenched Utah backcountry spread out well beyond the visible horizon from the road, whether you’re traveling along the All-American Highway, Scenic Byway 12, or on Highway 89. That’s nearly 1.9-million acres of colorful sandstone cliffs soaring above narrow slot canyons; picturesque washes and seemingly endless slickrock; prehistoric village sites and abandoned old Western movie sets, among many other treasures. Grand Staircase–Escalante, Utah occupies a transitional “step” zone between Bryce Canyon and the high Paunsaugunt Plateau through a sequence of brightly colored cliffs, Zion National Park and the Grand Canyon in Arizona. As the name suggests, the monument can logically be divided into two distinct areas, Grand Staircase and the Escalante River Canyon and tributaries, separated by what could be viewed as a third area: the Kaiparowits Plateau. The Escalante Canyons section and Escalante River tributaries are the most popular area of the monument, especially among hikers. Active waterfalls, arches, riparian oases, sculpted slickrock and narrow canyons such as Peek-a-boo and Spooky Gulch are part of the appeal of hikes through the Escalante’s backcountry. The Grand Staircase area is more remote and less visited. It is spectacular and contains the most extensive network of slot canyons in Utah. At Grand Staircase–Escalante, Utah visitors will find a vast and pristine backcountry that affords excellent opportunities for solitude and unconfined wilderness recreation, along with great scenic driving opportunities and endless camping options, both developed and primitive. But wherever you travel in this magnificent landscape, whether a drive down remote desert roads or a hike up lonely canyons, you will be rewarded at the end of your trip with vivid memories and a yearning to return. Travel Tips and Things to Do in Grand Staircase–Escalante
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Escalante Grand Staircase

About Escalante The Escalante Subdistrict has no marina or launch ramp to access to Lake Powell. It does, however, provide for some of the best backcountry hiking and camping experiences within Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. The lower section of the Escalante River, approximately 12 miles, can be reached by boat from the main channel of Lake Powell. All of the canyons in the Escalante drainage feature excellent hiking opportunities. Services Escalante is a small town, typical of rural southern Utah, however most major tourist services are available, including: motels, a Bed & Breakfast, RV Parks, gas stations (including towing service and auto mechanic), restaurants, grocery stores, a farm supply center, art galleries and gift shops. There is a medical clinic that is open Monday through Friday. The nearest hospital is in Panguitch, about 70 miles west of Escalante. The Escalante Interagency Office is located on the west side of town. This houses a visitor information center, as well as the combined offices for the Dixie National Forest, the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and the Escalante Subdistrict of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. There are also numerous Forest Service, BLM, and State Park campgrounds in the area.
escalante grand staircase 3

Escalante Grand Staircase

Early Days The Escalante River was named in 1872 by A.H. Thompson, a member of the Powell Survey who passed through the upper basin area on a mapping expedition. He was travelling through the area again in 1875 when a group of Mormon pioneers were planning a settlement in the area. Thompson suggested they name their new town Escalante. The name comes from the Dominguez-Escalante Expedition of 1776. Two Spanish priests, frs. Dominguez and Escalante, traversed much of the southwest in a grueling expedition in an attempt to reach California from Santa Fe, New Mexico. The party did not reach the Escalante drainage, but Thompson, who knew the history of the area, thought it would be a good way in which to honor one of the first known explorers of the Southwest. Ranching was one of the primary occupations of the new village and the cowboys soon began to push their way into the many canyons of the Escalante seeking good grass and lost cattle. They were among the first non-Indians to see the arches, bridges, alcoves, and other wonders which draw visitors today. Just prior to World War II, a proposal was put forth in Congress to create Escalante National Park. This proposed park included not only the canyons of the Escalante, but most of southeastern Utah. World War II intervened however and the proposal was all but forgotten in the crush of legislation related to fighting the war. Afterwards, some felt that national priorities had changed and Congress was, perhaps, more reluctant to restrict extractive activities such as mining on so large a chunk of land. Eventually, several national parks and monuments were created in this area, though even their combined size did not approach that of the original Escalante National Park – the park that almost was.
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Escalante Grand Staircase

Questions & Answers Here’s what previous visitors have asked, with answers from representatives of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and other visitors 16 questions Ask a question cristina n Savannah, Georgia Planning about a week of hiking in GSE in May 2017. Where is the best base”camp” for access? Kanab or Escalante? Or should we split between the two? We are planning day hikes as well as 2-3 day ones. 4 months ago Problem with this question? Show all answers Answer ssecycle Silver Spring, Maryland We'll be visiting Grand Staircase Escalante in mid-April, traveling in a rental SUV (Hyundai Santa Fe). Would there be any added value in booking the one-day Jeep tour offered, or would a standard SUV be able to navigate the back country and get us to the slot canyons? The jeep tour is $800/day. 1 month ago Problem with this question? Show all answers Answer NotAccidental New Jersey I understand there is a slot canyon in GSENM. Peek-boo ? Where is it ? Is it easily accessible from a paved road, or a hike in. I am considering this as an alternative to Antelope Canyon.Thanks for any info and advice. 1 month ago Problem with this question? Show all answers Answer Kishor M Austin, Texas Is there a detour you can take off Hwy 12 to see any site in the grand staircase? We have about 2 hours to spent over a year ago Problem with this question? Show all answers Answer brushcolour Saint Paul, Minnesota Hello, Does anyone which highway to take to get to the falls? Is the road between Zion & Bryce?I'm a little confused about getting into areas in the park. Thank you, Julie over a year ago Problem with this question? Show all answers Answer See all questions Questions? Get answers from Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument staff and past visitors. Posting guidelines Get notified about new answers to your questions. Ask Typical questions asked: Do I have to buy a ticket for my infant? How do I get there using public transportation? Is there a restaurant or café onsite?

Escalante Grand Staircase

Escalante Grand Staircase
Escalante Grand Staircase

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