"Still a Wilderness experience" Top 5 Page for this destination Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument by Segolily

Hard to do in a short visit

The greater part of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is wilderness. The monument was created in 1996 and is governed by the BLM who already had jurisdiction over much of the land it encompasses. It is gradually being discovered and more and more people are using the trails and roads. But it is still mostly remote and requires planning and effort to fully enjoy.
There are two main roads skirting the monument. Scenic highway 12 on the north and Hwy 89 on the south. Either of these are wonderful drives in and of themselves. If you are doing a quick trip then these two drives will give you a brief glimpse of the monument.
However, if you have more time and want to spend a little more time in this desert wilderness then base yourself in Escalante or Kanab or Page and explore some of the rest of this vast area.

Why it is called a "Staircase"

The picture gives a glimpse of some of the staircase. Someone a long time ago coined the phrase "Grand Staircase" for the series of cliffs, found lying horizontally throughout the area starting with the Kaibab limestone of the Grand Canyon rim and continuing on to the Chocolate, the Vermillion, White, Grey, and Pink cliffs. Each of these are a massive step up from the previous formation and represent eons of time in formation. The best place to see the concept is the LeFevre rest stop just south of Fredonia on the way to Grand Canyon. Go to the top of the rest area and look north. You will see the Vermillion, Grey and Pink cliffs. Zions is formed from the White Cliffs and Bryce from the Pink. The highest level and last step is Powell Point 10,188 feet high (though not part of the monument). It is an impressive landmark easily seen from Hwy 12 just north of Bryce.

Why it is called Escalante

Through the heart of the monument runs the Escalante River. Named for Father Silvestre Escalante he and Father Francisco Dominguez, Franciscan friars, left Santa Fe, the northern capitol of the Mexican territory of Spain, in 1776 to find a northern route to the missions of California. They were gone 6 1/2 months experiencing great difficulties and only barely managing to return to Santa Fe without getting further west than what is now Cedar City Utah. Father Escalante and the rest were the first Europeans to travel this area, and he recorded the journey. He is now remembered in place names starting with the river, which named the town and now the Monument.

Though their journey only skirted the area covered by the Monument and never came close to the river that now bears his name, the memory of their journey remains in the soul of those who take their own journeys of discovery here.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Solitude, beauty and desert wilderness
  • Cons:Solitude and desert wilderness
  • Last visit to Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument: Oct 2013
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (13)

Comments (3)

  • ranger49's Profile Photo
    Sep 16, 2009 at 3:28 PM

    What an interesting page. Thanks for the tour - and the geography lesson. Great stuff!

  • cachaseiro's Profile Photo
    Jul 20, 2009 at 4:05 PM

    that really looks amazing. i hope to visit that part of the world before too long.

  • mikelisaanna's Profile Photo
    Jun 8, 2009 at 10:01 PM

    We spent two days driving through Grand-Staircase Escalante and loved the experience. After living in the New York City area, it was great to be able to get away from the crowds.

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