The 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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The Grand Staircase

On Monday, the Kane County Commission passed a similar resolution, calling on Congress to “reduce or modify the boundaries” of the monument to the minimum area needed to protect antiquities mentioned in Clinton’s proclamation. About 125 people attended the special meeting, according to Kanab resident Noel Poe, who is also president of Grand Staircase Escalante Partners. “The majority opposed the resolution,” said Poe. Debate on the Staircase bill has been overshadowed by a sister resolution targeting Bears Ears. Gov. Gary Herbert signed HCR11 Friday after it won quick legislative approval with largely party-line votes, while HCR12 awaits action on the Senate floor. A Salt Lake Tribune-Hinckley Institute poll last fall found Utah voters approve of the Grand Staircase monument 47 percent to 39 percent. The survey, conducted Sept. 12-19, found stronger support among younger voters. But HCR12’s sponsor Rep. Mike Noel. R-Kanab, told colleagues last week the monument was designated only as a gimmick to help Clinton’s re-election chances, and its boundaries were enlarged to take in two proposed coal mines in the Kaiparowits’ vast coal deposits. Noel said the monument has damaged the availability of well-paying employment and residents are leaving the county. Meanwhile, he said, “There are jobs to make beds and to clean toilets and to do the tourism business.” Critics believe Noel and his supporters are distorting the facts in an effort to assert greater local control over scenic landscapes owned and valued by all Americans. They note that permitted grazing allotments have barely changed in the 20 years since the monument’s creation. Hundreds of miles of roads remain open to the general public, ATV riders and permitted users. And commercial recreation abounds on the monument, supporting dozens of businesses in Escalante, Boulder, Kanab and other towns rimming the monument. Those trends, monument supporters contend, are hard to square with HCR12’s assertion that the monument “has had a negative impact on the prosperity, development, economy, custom, culture, heritage, educational opportunities, health, and well-being of local communities,” and pushed Escalante High School enrollment down 44 percent. Garfield County Commissioner Leland Pollock, who regularly testifies against the monument at the Legislature, told senators the school, which goes from seventh to 12th grade, has plunged from 140 students to 51 since 1996. The closure of a lumber mill, which pulled timber from the nearby Dixie National Forest, can account for most of the enrollment drop. “We aren’t against tourism,” Pollock said, “but minimum-wage jobs don’t support a family.” Citing a Utah State University study, the Legislature’s Bears Ears resolution asserts that grazing on the Grand Staircase has declined by a third since the monument was created despite a presidential promise that grazing would “remain at historical levels.” The monument proclamation itself makes no such promise, instead saying that existing grazing rights and stocking levels would be governed by applicable law. And while grazing levels have moved up and down dramatically since the monument was designated, “it is not the creation of the monument that causes those numbers to fluctuate,” said monument spokesman Larry Crutchfield. “It’s fluctuating as a result of available forage due to amount of precipitation.” Still, Noel contends the Bureau of Land Management went overboard with new rules that make it difficult on ranchers hoping to improve the range and access their allotments, on power companies trying to maintain and upgrade utility lines, on hunters, and on everyday folks trying to enjoy the outdoors with friends and family. He alleges the BLM shut down 1,000 miles of roads, put an end to filmmaking and other commercial activities and limited recreational outings to “eight or nine heartbeats.”
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The Grand Staircase

What makes the Grand Staircase worldly unique is that it preserves more Earth history than any other place on Earth. Geologists often liken the study of sedimentary rock layers to reading a history book–layer by layer, detailed chapter by detailed chapter. The problem is that in most places in the world, the book has been severely damaged by the rise and fall of mountains, the scouring of glaciers, etc. Usually these chapters are completely disarticulated from each other and often whole pages are just missing. Yet the Grand Staircase and the lower cliffs that comprise the Grand Canyon remain largely intact speaking to over 600 million years of continuous Earth history with only a few paragraphs missing here and there.
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The enchantment of nature is abundant in Utah, where nearly eighty-percent of the state is land administered for public use, by federal and state agencies. Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Cedar Breaks and the Grand Staircase-Escalante share a common sanctuary in the vast desert of southern Utah. Each national treasure has its own unique display of rock sculptures to share. The North Rim of the Grand Canyon in the far north section of Arizona also dips its boundaries into the geologic framework of the Grand Staircase.
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In Utah’s fight to rescind Bears Ears National Monument, Republican politicians have refocused a long-standing campaign against another big monument two decades after President Bill Clinton appeared on the rim of Arizona’s Grand Canyon to set aside Utah’s Grand Staircase, Escalante canyons and the coal-rich Kaiparowits Plateau. Many acknowledge the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is driving a burgeoning tourist economy in Garfield and Kane counties, where new hotels and restaurants are opening to serve an influx of visitors to the monument and surrounding redrock desert. But the designation has come at a price to local culture and tradition by displacing cattle ranchers, closing roads and thwarting coal mining and other commercial activities, according to backers of a resolution aimed at shrinking the 1.9 million-acre monument.
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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.
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Unfortunately, the Grand Staircase is such a vast region of rock that no matter where you stand on its expanse, most of it will be hidden behind the curvature of Earth. Places such as Yovimpa Point and the north slope of the Kaibab Plateau are the exception where even a non-geologist can discern the individual chapters of this colossal history book–these immense steps of Dutton’s Grand Staircase.
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The Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument is a huge chunk of public land engulfing much of the Southwestern Utah desert. The national monument is a 1.9 million acre (1,870,800 federal/15,000 privately owned) oasis of mostly primitive land strewn with streams, monoliths, slot canyons and scientific treasures galore. This parcel of land dominates the rural southern section of the state of Utah, protecting as much as two-hundred-million years of history within its boundaries. This vast oasis provides a record of geological, biological, paleontological and archeological data that will be used to fill many text books in our future. The remote and pristine Grand Staircase-Escalante has preserved a wealth of original populations of flora, fauna, new species of dinosaurs and Ancestral Puebloan (Anasazi) artifacts.
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Make our hotel near Bryce Canyon your vacation headquarters, located just off Highway 12, and only 15 miles from Bryce Canyon National Park. Our Bryce Canyon hotel is the ideal destination for visiting all of the nearby national parks and local area attractions. Our Bryce Canyon hotel is Located in Bryce Canyon’s backyard and nestled between beautiful sandstone vistas that color the surrounding areas with reds, oranges and yellows. We are conveniently located between Bryce Canyon National Park and Kodachrome State Park with the Grand Staircase National Monument Visitor Center just 1/2 block away. Reserve your hotel room now and discover why we are the preferred choice among Bryce Canyon Hotels. Enjoy traditional Southern Utah warmth and hospitality at our hotel located around Bryce Canyon, where you’ll find the quiet escape and rest you need to make your stay comfortable. Our hotel is a smoke free and pet free property. Also featured at our hotel near Bryce Canyon is a fully stocked country store and food court. Each of our hotel rooms features its own refrigerator for your convenience. “Grand Staircase Inn is 15 minutes from Bryce Canyon N. P. and is a very quiet and relaxing place to stay. If you enjoy escaping the tourist box, this is your place. Price beats competition in the area. Place is extremely spacious and clean. Management is very warm and friendly family owned.” – Mr. Archibald – San Diego, CA Check Availability

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