Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument
An American Treasure Off the Beaten Path
Vast and untamed, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM) offers an impressive array of educational and recreational opportunities for visitors willing to trek off the beaten path in their quest for adventure. Administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Monument spans just shy of 1.9 million acres, or nearly 3,000 square-miles of America’s public lands located between Lake Powell and Kanab. From its spectacular Grand Staircase of cliffs and terraces across the rugged Kaiparowits Plateau to the wonders of the Escalante River Canyons, the Monument’s size, resources and remote character provide extraordinary possibilities for scientific research and discovery. As intriguing as it is beautiful, GSENM has already afforded researchers a wealth of new insights about how the earth was formed and the life it sustains. What scientists are learning, and the methodology they use to determine what it all means, can be discovered at GSENM visitor centers located in adjacent communities. With so much information to share, each visitor center’s interpretive exhibits focus on different scientific themes: Big Water (paleontology), Kanab (geology and archaeology), Cannonville (history), Escalante (plants and animals), and at Anasazi State Park Museum in Boulder (archaeology). The visitor centers are also a great resource to get travel information. So much of the Monument is remote and unforgiving to the unprepared, it is extremely important to plan ahead and expect the unexpected. Check on current road and weather conditions at one of the Monument’s visitor centers before venturing out. 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 that overnight camping requires a permit (easily obtained at one of the visitor centers listed above). Collection of objects on the Monument such as petrified wood, fossils, artifacts and plants is prohibited. 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 boundary and Johnson Canyon Road to the Skutumpah Road turnoff, wind beneath rising multi-hued canyon walls. Most roads into the Monument are dirt, clay or sand. Caution should be exercised when traveling on unpaved roads, as conditions 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 throughout most of the Monument. Some of the most popular GSENM attractions in Kane County are not far off the beaten path. Consult the GSENM Visitor Information Guide or area maps for exact locations. Old Pahreah Town Site, located five miles north of Hwy 89 on a dirt road between mile posts markers 31 and 32, gives visitors a glimpse into the harsh realties of pioneer life. Grosvenor Arch is a unique double arch located 13 miles south-east of Kodachrome Basin State Park and one mile off Cottonwood Road. 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. But…watch out for the quicksand! The uncompromising and vivid landscapes along the Great Western Trail offer OHV/ATV enthusiasts an exciting and intriguing ride. If you prefer guided trips with a professional outfitter, GSENM has more than 80 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 kids are not left out, either. 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 Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument’s outdoor laboratory. They can choose activities that range from “Paleontology Tool Hunt” crossword puzzle to “Visitor Center Scavenger Hunt.” For more information, visit a Monument visitor center, call 435-644-1300, or log on to the Monument’s website at www.ut.blm.gov/monument.