The Grand Staircase runs from Bryce Canyon National Park south for 100 miles and 161 kilometers to the Grand Canyon, going through Zion and Bryce Canyon National Park. Grand Staircase consists of five distinct layers, the oldest of which are found at Grand Canyon’s North Rim, while the newest layer makes up Bryce Canyon. Beginning with the oldest layer, each step is named for its general color: chocolate, vermillion, white, gray, and pink.
Located between Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument is also known as the Seven Wonders of the World. Outside of Utah’s infamous Big 5 National Parks, it has some of the best hiking in the state. A day trip to Grand Staircase Escalante is well worth the time and effort.
When Talking about the grand staircase of Bryce Canyon, people are often interested to know “What was the process of creating the Grand Staircase?” Well, here’s the answer. According to their general color, the steps are named in order from oldest to youngest: chocolate, vermillion, white, gray, and pink. Tectonic uplift along the Colorado Plateau exposed the various layers of sediment and rock as the landscape changed over the millennia from lakes to sand dunes to rock.
The sweeping Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument covers nearly 1.9 million acres, but most of it lies in remote locations. Paved roads only lead to a limited number of trailheads. Dirt roads are the only way to access the rest. There is a wide variety of quality on these trails, ranging from well-graded roads to unmaintained rocks and sand doubletracks. Driving the backroads can also offer scenic views of the surrounding countryside. Moreover, they provide access to trails, as well as connecting trailheads.
How do I get to Grand Staircase – Escalante?
In addition to visitor centers surrounding the monument, the monument has no official entrances. The main visitors center for Escalante Canyons is located at:
- At 755 West Main Street, Escalante, Utah 84726, you can find the Escalante Interagency Visitor Center, which is open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday from mid-March to mid-November.
- Visitors can get maps and interpretive displays in the visitor center as well as ask questions of staff members.
- In Kanab, there is a visitor center at 745 East Highway 89, Kanab, UT 84741 and you can call the number on the west Grand Staircase.
- The Canyonville visitors center is located along Scenic Byway 12 on the north side of the monument. During the wintertime, this site is closed.
Grand Staircase Bryce Canyon – Characteristics
With Miles of Back Roads linking stone arches, mesas, and abstract rock formations, Grand Staircase is an impressive collection of Slickrock canyonlands and desert, prehistoric village sites, Old West ranch land, arid plateaus, and miles of slick rock canyons and desert.
The Escalante River, which flows from Boulder Mountain to the Colorado River, is partly responsible for the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument’s name. Thousands of years ago, the earth was carved with canyons and gorges. In addition to their sandstone labyrinths and slot canyons, these sandstone formations also offer some of the world’s best hiking experiences.
A geologist named Clarence Dutton first conjectured that the Grand Canyon’s cliff edges formed giant steps ascending out of the canyon bottom toward the north in the 1870s. In describing this layer cake of Earth history, Dutton named the cliffs Pink Cliffs, Grey Cliffs, White Cliffs, Vermilion Cliffs, and Chocolate Cliffs in a colorful way. Throughout geological history, Dutton’s steps have been further classified into rock formations.
Unfortunately, no matter how you stand on the Grand Staircase, most of it will remain hidden behind the curvature of the Earth. There are certain places, usually Yovimpa Point and the north slope of the Kaibab Plateau, where even a non-geologist can discern the individual pages of this enormous history book, these vast steps of Dutton’s Grand Staircase.
Interesting Features of Grand Staircase
Sculpted by wind and water, Bryce Canyon National Park’s rock formations look back on the legend of the ancient Paiutes who believed the hoodoos were frozen Legend People. Bryce Canyon’s landscape, however, is overwhelmingly dominated by hoodoos and expansive views, rather than the international phenomenon of oddly shaped pillars.
As you wind through the park, you can view stunning views as far as the eye can see. The park’s elevation ranges from 8,000 feet at the visitor center to an elevation of 9,115 feet at Rainbow Point. It offers expansive views of the Paria Valley and varied cliffs of the Grand Staircase over the 18-mile scenic rim drive that follows the Paunsaugunt Plateau. A number of overlooks appear along the way. Dawn, sunset, Inspiration Point, and Bryce Point all afford spectacular panoramic views, especially because of the way the sun illuminates Bryce Amphitheater.
As you explore Bryce Canyon, you’ll find literally thousands of hoodoos that fill the amphitheaters, floating above the canyon floor and reflecting the early morning sunlight or softly glowing in the sunset. From Sunset Point or through the Navajo Loop Trail, the best vantage point to see Thor’s Hammer in Bryce Canyon is large and imposing. You can choose to view the fiery red and orange pinnacles from the rim or walk in silence among them while descending into the amphitheater. The experience is breathtaking either way.
How does Grand Staircase Escalante differ from other national parks?
Slot canyons abound in this area, which has the most extensive network in Utah. The Kaiparowits Plateau, which spans 1,600 square miles and contains sedimentary rock formations containing extensive fossils dating back 30 million years, separates these two areas.
Bryce Canyon National Park is what type of landform?
There’s a national park, Bryce Canyon National Park, located on the Colorado Plateau of Utah’s High Plateaus. The hoodoo formation is a result of the combination of climatic conditions, rock types, and the plateau’s orientation.
What is the Entrance Fee for Grand Staircase – Escalante?
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument does not charge an entrance fee. A backcountry camping or backpacking permit is required for overnight stays in the backcountry. Several of the developed campgrounds in the monument charge fees.
As well to hikers at Calf Creek Recreation Area, hikers in the Paria Wilderness area require a permit. The area includes Paria Canyon and Coyote Buttes.
You should have a travel strategy in mind if you plan to visit this national monument. Having a vehicle that can handle rough roads is just as important, especially if you’re planning to stay longer than a few days.
Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument Visitor Center
In spite of the limited facilities, poor roads, and changing weather, the national monument remains a very rugged area. Since people die here, before setting out, we strongly recommend that all visitors pick up maps and other information from the visitor centers, and especially to check on current weather conditions and road conditions.
Bryce Canyon measures 56 square miles, while the monument covers 3000 square miles. With so many visitor centers, it shouldn’t be surprising. In total, there are four visitor centers scattered across nearly one million acres of land in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which is known for the Grand Staircase of cliffs and terraces, the rugged Kaiparowits Plateau, and the wonder of the Escalante River Canyons.
Visitors, paleontologists, archeologists, historians, and biologists can take advantage of the Monument’s unique resources and remote location to conduct scientific research, education, and exploration.
Each of the four visitor centers has a different look and feel and is located in Kanab, Escalante, Big Water, and Canyonville. Visitors can get up-to-date information on road conditions and hiking trails from the friendly and knowledgeable staff when they arrive to ensure they maximize their enjoyment.
If you plan to disperse camp outside of developed campgrounds, you should obtain a free, overnight permit. Keep all waste packed out and use portable bags for human waste, parking only in disturbed areas so as not to damage soil crust and vegetation.
Is there enough time for you to explore Grand Staircase Escalante?
Visitors should allow at least four hours if they are driving between Bryce and Capitol Reef National Parks. Visiting the state park and the wild areas in the Grand Staircase can take longer with a stop in the small town of Escalante.
Is it possible to Drive Through Grand Staircase Escalante?
During Scenic Byway 12, which stretches 120 miles, you will experience Utah’s rugged, beautiful landscape as you travel through various areas. You are guaranteed to be able to see the area as you drive on one of the two paved roads within Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
Things to Do in Grand Staircase – Escalante
Here’s what you would love to do at the grand staircase.
Camping at Grand Staircase-Escalante
Camping is a great lodging option for those on a budget or who enjoy the outdoors. Two campgrounds are set up within the monument on a first-come, first-served basis: Deer Creek Campground and Calf Creek Campground. 7 campsites are available at Deer Creek Campground, which sits alongside the Burr Trail. Campgrounds at Calf Creek include 13 sites, a picnic area, and a trailhead for the hike to Lower Calf Creek Falls.
Is Grand Staircase Escalante a good place to camp?
Campers are permitted in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. There is a permit requirement for all overnight car camping in the Monument. A permit is required and may be obtained at the visitor center or at an established trailhead for free.
Hiking Grand Staircase-Escalante
The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is filled with hiking trails that take you to incredible viewpoints and scenic vistas. Every hiker has a suitable hike, no matter their experience level. We have a hiking guide that includes the basics and there are many hikes that can provide you with wonderful memories such as slot canyons like Peek-a-boo and Spooky Gulch, Devil’s Garden, and Calf Creek Recreation area.
The right permits and accommodating weather conditions can also make backpacking a fun multi-day excursion. Visitor centers or developed trailheads are the places to obtain overnight backpacking and hiking permits.
Slot Canyons: Explore them
The slot canyons of Peek-a-boo Gulch and Spooky Gulch are both located along Hole in the Rock Road 26 miles south of Escalante. Due to their close proximity, you can hike both slot canyons separately and together.
A roundtrip distance from Peek-A-Boo is 2 miles and from Spooky is just over 3 miles. Additionally, you can combine them to make a 3.5-mile loop that takes anywhere from 2-4 hours to complete. The best starting point would be Peek-a-boo if you combine them.
There are a few places in both slot canyons where hikers must crawl, squeeze, and scoot due to the narrowness of the canyons. Rock walls may reach 10 feet high in some areas, which may be appealing to adventurers, but claustrophobics may find them unappealing.
Is it possible to drive through Grand Staircase Escalante?
Yes. During Scenic Byway 12, which stretches 120 miles, you will experience Utah’s rugged, beautiful landscape as you travel through various areas. You are guaranteed to be able to see the area as you drive on one of the two paved roads within Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
Is Grand Staircase Escalante Worth Seeing?
Its slot canyons, state parks, national parks, and the otherworldly scenery it offers, make Utah a popular tourist destination. There are still seemingly endless opportunities to enjoy the outdoors of the American Southwest despite Escalante’s recent reduction in acreage.
Kodachrome Basin State Park is found in the Grand Staircase region, and it is known for its stone spires, red rock formations, and vast blue skies. Due to its photogenic scenery and bright colors, the place was named Kodachrome after the film brand. Aside from hiking, horseback riding, biking, and many photo opportunities, the park offers plenty of opportunities to participate in guided horseback tours and mountain biking.
Plan your trip for spring or fall to avoid the peak summer season at Bryce Canyon. Accommodations will be easier to secure, and the midday temperature will be milder, allowing you to experience nature even more intimately. While the weather is generally pleasant outside of summer, with 7,000 feet of elevation, it can get quite cold at night. Pack accordingly.
What are the benefits of visiting Bryce Canyon National Park?
There is no other place on Earth like Bryce Canyon National Park, the largest collection of hoodoos in the world. There are more hoodoos than any other place in the world at Bryce Canyon National Park in southwestern Utah.
A unique region of canyons, arches, plateaus, and cliffs, the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is located in Utah. Despite controversy over its designation as a National Monument, this area was established in 1996.
Pink Cliffs, the geologically youngest layer of the Grand Staircase, are part of the Bryce Canyon National Park and reveal layers of sedimentary history in subtle shades of pink, red, orange, white, and gray. The impressive scenery is enhanced by these colors and contrasts.
On either the All-American Road, Scenic Byway 12, or Highway 89, the sun-drenched Utah backcountry extends far beyond what can be seen from the road. An array of colors is displayed in this area, which is dotted with colorful sandstone cliffs rising above narrow slot canyons.
We have discussed Grand Staircase Bryce Canyon in detail in this article along with valuable information about it. Our recommendation is that you should visit Grand Staircase Escalante for a day trip.