Grand Staircase–Escalante

*Note: On December 4, 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order to draw new boundary lines for Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument. The proposal introduces three new national monuments in this area named, west to east, Grand Staircase, Kaiparowits and Escalante Canyons. The area is open to visitors. This page will be updated as more information becomes available.

The allure of the Grand Staircase region — the bulk of which is contained in the Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument* — is phenomenal. Sun-drenched Utah backcountry spreads out well beyond the visible horizon from the road, whether you’re traveling along the The All-American Road: Scenic Byway 12, or on Highway 89. This area boasts a mixture 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.

It also occupies a transitional "step" zone between Bryce Canyon National Park and the high Paunsaugunt Plateau through a sequence of brightly colored cliffs, Zion National Park and the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

December 4, 2017 National Monument Designations

The national monuments as designated by President Trump are drawn along three distinct regions: Grand Staircase, the Escalante River Canyon and its tributaries, and the Kaiparowits Plateau. The three smaller monuments all fall within the former monument designation's boundaries. All other lands that were covered by the Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument* designation retain their existing level of federal protection.

The Escalante Canyons section is the most popular area of the monument, especially among hikers. Active waterfalls, arches, riparian oases, sculpted slickrock and narrow canyons 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.

These two areas are separated by the 1,600-square-mile Kaiparowits Plateau, which features unique sedimentary rock formations containing an unbroken record of fossils spanning 30 million years.

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

Much of the sweeping Grand Staircase region is quite remote. Very few trailheads can be reached on paved roads.

Visitors to the backways should carry plenty of water (at least one gallon — 4 liters — per person, per day) and be equipped to get themselves out of any difficulty they might encounter. Summer temperatures can range over 100° F (38°C) and winters can drop well below freezing at night. Perhaps most importantly, sudden heavy rains may make this road impassable — even for high-clearance, 4WD vehicles.

Read the Grand Staircase–Escalante Expert Journal to make sure you're prepared.

Visitor Centers and Entrances

There are no official entrances into the monument(s), but a number of visitor centers surround the area. The main visitor center to the Escalante Canyons section is the Escalante Interagency Visitor Center (755 W. Main St., Escalante, UT 84726; 435-826-5499; open 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM 7 days a week mid-March to mid-November, Monday through Friday the rest of the year; GPS 37.772789, -111.615537). The visitor center offers Escalante Canyon maps and great interpretive displays as well as helpful staff members who can answer your questions.

A smaller visitor center on the north side of the monument is in Cannonville.

The Big Water Visitor Center and dinosaur museum is a great stop on your way to visit Lake Powell, Antelope Canyon, and Glen Canyon Dam, or to hike one of the numerous trails located within the Grand Staircase region.


Roaming Grand Staircase–Escalante

by Visit Utah

Ace Kvale is a photographer and guide in Boulder, Utah. Whenever possible, he roams Utah's Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument (GSENM). Along for most of his wanderings is Genghis Khan.

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Grand Staircase–Escalante

669 South Highway 89A
Kanab, Utah 84741