Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Pictures
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and encompasses an incredible one million acres of public lands.
The landscape is varied, and the list of things to do here is nearly endless. The park has three distinct areas – the Grand Staircase, the Kaiparowits Plateau, and the Canyons of the Escalante River.
If the scenery here looks familiar, it’s because it shares the same geologic features of other parks on the Colorado Plateau like Canyonlands, Colorado National Monument, Capitol Reef National Park, and the Grand Canyon.
Things to see and do
Start your visit at one of the Visitor Centers. We stopped at the Escalante Interagency Visitor Center in Escalante to learn about the park and get a feel for what we could see and do. They have a small museum and provide maps for different sections of the park. Since it’s an interagency center, it’s a great place to get lots of stamps for your Passport Book!
If you happen to be driving on historic state highway UT-12, make a stop at Hell’s Backbone Grill in Boulder, UT.
This little gem is a James Beard Award semifinalist (2017, 2018, and 2019) and turns out some amazing dishes. Don’t miss it!
Other things to do in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
- Backcountry trips
- Floating the Escalante River
- So much more – it’s huge!
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument can be reached from points all over Utah and Arizona, including by boat via Lake Powell in Glen Canyon Recreation Area. We drove over from Bryce Canyon National Park from the west along State Highway 12 on our way to Capitol Reef National Park.
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Stats
Date created: 1996
Historical Significance: Research shows that the ancient Anasazi and Fremont cultures made contact here as far back as AD 950-1100.
Fun Fact: The term Grand Staircase refers to the name geologist Clarence Dutton gave the area as he was studying the unique rock formations here. He noted that they seemed to form a staircase rising from the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
It’s because of this ‘staircase’ that makes this area special – it provides more Earth history than any other place on Earth. Geologists can look back at more than 600 million years of continuous Earth history in these rock layers. It’s one of the only places on the planet where glaciers, volcanic activity, and geologic movement hasn’t affected the sedimentary rock layers that formed here.
Visitor Centers and Passport Stamps
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument has five Visitor Centers. The only one we visited was the Interagency Visitor Center in Escalante which is run by Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (Bureau of Land Mangement), Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (National Park Service), and Dixie National Forest (U.S. Forest Service).
Other Nearby Parks
Glen Canyon National Recreational Area, Bryce Canyon National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, and several state parks border Grand Staircase-Escalante.
Read more about all of Utah's National Parks here.
Have you visited Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument?
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