Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Now 21 and Legal
The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM), which celebrates its 21st birthday this year, had the distinction when created of being the first national monument to be administered by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
This vast, unspoiled, untamed Monument offers an impressive array of educational and recreational opportunities for visitors to experience the magic of the American West and years of learning from the land.
The Monument spans nearly 1.9 million acres, or 3,000 square miles of America’s public lands. From its spectacular Grand Staircase of cliffs and terraces, across the rugged Kaiparowits Plateau, to the wonders of the Escalante River Canyons, its size and remote character provide extraordinary possibilities for scientific research and discovery.
GSENM visitor centers located in adjacent communities, each offer a different interpretive focus. Big Water features paleontology, Kanab stresses monument geology and archaeology, and Cannonville has a history focus. Escalante features monument plants and animals, and archaeology is the theme at Anasazi State Park Museum in Boulder.
The visitor centers are also a great resource for travel information. The Monument is remote and unforgiving to the unprepared, making it crucial to plan ahead and expect the unexpected!
Check on current road and weather conditions, and let someone know where you are going, and when you expect to return. Carry extra water, clothing and food in case of an emergency. Do not travel or hike alone!
Remember, overnight camping requires a permit (easily obtained at any of the visitor centers).
There are several ways to access GSENM. Visitors can drive along the All-American Road, Scenic Byway 12 between Tropic and Boulder in the north. Travelers on this highway are treated to swirling sandstone mesas, intriguing canyons, high desert and forests. In the south, the richly-colored vermilion cliffs border Highway 89 between Kanab and Page.
Partially paved and graded gravel, the Burr Trail to the Capital Reef National Park boundary and Johnson Canyon Road to the Skutumpah Road turnoff, are visual treats of multi-hued canyon walls. Most roads into the Monument are dirt, clay or sand.
Conditions on the monument’s unpaved roads can change quickly due to weather. High clearance four-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended. Services and water are generally not available. Cell phones do not work on most of the Monument.
Many GSENM attractions are some of the most popular sites in Kane County for visitors to see the magic for themselves. Consult the GSENM Visitor Information Guide or area maps for exact locations.
Beckoning the restless heart and challenging the adventurous soul, GSENM boasts some of the best backcountry opportunities in the country. Equestrians will find the Upper Paria River an amazing corridor with steep canyon walls, hanging gardens and historic remnants from earlier travelers; while the uncompromising and vivid landscapes along the Great Western Trail offer ATV enthusiasts an exciting ride.
If you prefer guided trips with a professional outfitter, GSENM has plenty of authorized providers offering services for auto tours, hiking, backpacking, bicycling, horseback riding, hunting, fishing and shuttle services, as well as geology and natural history tours, photography classes, environmental education, llama packing and horse pack trips.
The Monument’s Junior Scientist Program, similar to the Junior Ranger program found at many national and state parks, teaches kids about what scientists are studying in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument’s outdoor laboratory.
If you would like more information about the magic of the Monument, visit a GSENM visitor center, call (435) 644-1300, or log on to the Monument’s website at www.ut.blm.gov/monument.