Location: South-central Utah, north and west of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Lake Powell. Grand Staircase is the westernmost section of the monument and is most easily accessed from Tropic, Cannonville or Henrieville near Kodachrome Basin State Park on Highway 12–also known as Scenic Byway 12– and Kanab or Big Water on U.S. Route 89. Travelers can easily combine trips to Lake Powell via the Wahweap Marina with a stop at the Big Water Visitor Center, known for its fascinating exhibits of the park's rich paleontological record.
Geography and geology: The aptly named “Grand Staircase” marches northward from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to the 9,000-foot edge of Utah’s High Plateaus. The colorful succession of “risers” in the staircase include, from south to north, the Shinarump Cliffs, the Vermilion Cliffs, the White Cliffs, the Gray Cliffs, and the Pink Cliffs. Each cliff band is separated by progressively higher terraces.
The Paria River is the principal drainage of the Grand Staircase region, coursing 80 miles from Utah’s High Plateaus to its confluence with the Colorado River at Lees Ferry. The Paria River carves the deepest canyon in the region through the Paria Plateau. It approaches 3,000 feet deep in places. Paria Canyon is also one of the region’s longest backcountry journeys. Stretching nearly 40 miles from White House Trailhead to the canyon’s mouth at Lees Ferry on the Colorado River, the trail meanders through canyons renowned for their narrow slots and is a popular attraction for hikers.
Visitor centers and entrances: There are no official entrances into this area, but a number of visitor centers surround the monument(s). The main Grand Staircase visitor center is the Kanab Visitor Center (745 E. Highway 89, Kanab, UT, 84741; 435-644-1300; open 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM 7 days a week during summer, 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM Monday through Friday from December 5 to March 8; GPS 37.042525, -112.512132). The center is a great place to start your visit, as it offers great interpretive displays and have staff members who can answer your questions. There are smaller visitor centers at the Paria Contact Station, Big Water and Cannonville. Big Water is known for its fascinating exhibits of the park's rich paleontological record. The Big Water phone number is 435-675-3200. The phone number for the Cannonville Visitor Center is 435-826-5640.
Overnight options: To the southwest, Kanab offers the greatest selection of hotels, motels, and lodges but there are hotel and motel options at other small towns around the monument. Whitehouse Campground is an established campground near Kanab. Additional camping opportunities can be found at Kodachrome State Park and Escalante Petrified Forest State Park and other established grounds on the northeast side. Primitive camping is also allowed in the monument (try to use established areas).
Nearest groceries and supplies: Various small towns surround the monument. Kanab and Bryce Canyon City are good options for supplies near the monument.
Climate and weather: Visitors come to the Grand Staircase region year-round, but most come during spring and autumn. Since the region is a desert environment, with daytime high temperatures often reaching 95 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit almost daily from June through August, summer is the most unfavorable time of the year to hike in and visit the area.
Spring weather (March through May) can be highly variable, with daytime high temperatures ranging from the 50s to the 70s, and nighttime lows ranging from 20 to 50 degrees. Occasional cold fronts from the west and northwest can bring cold, windy conditions, rain showers in the lower elevations, and perhaps snow on the higher mesas, particularly in March and April. Generally warm, dry weather prevails between storm systems.
Autumn provides some of the most stable weather of the year. Clear, warm, sunny days and cool nights make this one of the most delightful seasons to visit the Grand Staircase-Esalante region. Expect daytime highs to range from the 70s and 80s in September to the 40s and 50s by November. Overnight lows typically range from 20 to 50 degrees.
Winter in the Grand Staircase-Escalante region is cold and often windy, and the ground above 6,000 feet is often covered with inches of snow. Some high elevation areas may be rendered inaccessible by deep snow between December and mid-March each year.
When to visit: The monument is open 24 hours a day year-round. Check visitor center hours online.
Fees and Permits: Entrance is free. Overnight permits are required for car camping and backpacking. Stop in at a visitor center for a permit (also available at some established trailheads and campgrounds).
The Devils Garden Outstanding Natural Area is a miniature wonderland of Navajo Sandstone hoodoos, domes, narrow passages, and small arches, hidden from the view of drivers along Hole-in-the-Rock Road.
Egypt-Twentyfive Mile Wash Backpacking Trip
Explore deep into Utah's Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument on this strenuous backpacking trip. Get permit and hiking trail information here.
Between Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon national parks and perched on the edge of Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument, the town of Escalante offers access to some of the most beautiful parts of Southern Utah.
Escalante Canyons Section
Escalante Canyons draw interest year round for hiking and canyoneering. Spring and Fall offer better Escalante Utah weather for outdoor adventures. Hike Utah.
Escalante Petrified Forest
The Escalante Petrified Forest State Park is located at Wide Hollow Reservoir. This small reservoir is popular for boating, canoeing, and fishing.
Escalante River Trailhead to Maverick Bridge and Phipps Arch
This rewarding day hike combines a walk along the Escalante River, including at least one ford, with an ascent of dry Phipps Wash and a visit to two distinctive natural spans, Phipps Arch and Maverick Bridge.
Fiftymile Creek is a remote slickrock canyon of exceptional beauty. Seldom visited, the canyon offers solitude and classic scenery.
Forty Mile Ridge to Sunset Arch
Sunset Arch is a delicate, graceful span on the south slopes of Fortymile Ridge. Vistas along the way to the arch are far-ranging, and the walking is easy, with no obstacles, although it is not on an established trail.
Grand Staircase Family Guide
The Grand Staircase region is remote and rugged, but that doesn't mean it isn't a good option for families looking for adventure.
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.
The Johnson Canyon Cruise is a 50.8-mile out-and-back course that begins in the Grand Staircase. Bring your bicycle to experience some prime Utah road biking.
Pack your sense of adventure and pull out your four-wheel-drive skills to venture down the historical Hole-in-the-Rock Road south of Escalante.
Peek-a-Boo & Spooky Gulch
Peek-a-Boo and Spooky Gulch slot canyons in the Dry Fork area of Escalante Utah offer backpacking hikers scenic views without special gear or know-how.
The Box provides a backcountry landscape like no other in the Escalante region. Here you find a blend of slickrock canyon and cliffs, mountain forest, and a clear, cold creek. Also suitable as a backpacking destination.
Willow Gulch Trailhead to Broken Bow Arch
Willow Gulch offers one of the best short day hikes, also suitable as an overnight trip, in the lower Escalante Canyons. Interesting narrow passages, a ribbon of riparian foliage, beaver ponds in the small stream, and large Broken Bow Arch are major attractions.
Airstreams, cabins and RV sites on the grounds of an old drive-in movie theater near Bryce Canyon and Escalante,