Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Mounument boundaries were modified by presidential proclamation in December 2017 which reduced the size of the overall monument and separated the monument into three distinct units: Grand Staircase, Kaiparowitz, and Escalante Canyon.
The three units include a vast treasure chest of geologic and other natural wonders. Over 250 million years of Earth’s geologic history reveals itself in the technicolor cliffs within the monument. The land is among the most remote in the country being the last to be mapped in the contiguous United States. The monument is managed by the Bureau of Land Management rather than the National Park Service. This was the first national monument managed by the BLM.
The original monument encompassed nearly 1.9 million acres ( the monument was slightly larger in area than the state of Delaware). After the reduction ordered by presidential proclamation, the monument now encompasses just over 1 million acres.
Visit all four of the themed visitor centers bordering the Monument. Kanab hosts the Archaeological/Geological Center. Big Water is home to a fascinating Paleontology exhibit. The Cannonville Visitor Center explains the early Paiute and Pioneer life. Escalante Visitor Center shares scientific discoveries in botany, ecology and biology.
Visitors wishing to explore the Monument have numerous driving and hiking choices. the roads are unpaved and the condition varies. Always check with local Visitor Centers beforehand. A favorite hike is the Cottonwood Narrows. the trail begins off of Cottonwood Canyon Road.
Just 10 miles outside of Kanab is scenic Johnson Canyon. After 16 miles of pavement, the road turns to dirt and the Skutumpah Road will take you into magical places like Lick Wash and Willis Creek slot canyons.
The Grand Staircase unit is the western part of the monument which includes the Paunsaugunt Plateau bordering the Paria River, and is adjacent to Bryce Canyon National Park. This section shows the geologic progression of the Grand Staircase. Visitors can access this unit from Johnson Canyon Road and Skutumpah Road. Features include the slot canyons of Bull Valley Gorge, Willis Creek, and Lick Wash.
The Kaiparowits Plateau unit is the large, elevated landform which makes up the largest portion of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Its extension to the southeast, Fifty-Mile Mountain runs nearly to the Colorado River and Lake Powell. An extension of the plateau’s harsh terrain is known as Smoky Mountain. Visitors can access this part of the monument on the Cottonwood Canyon road or Smoky Mountain road.
The Escalante Canyon unit is the northeastern unit of the monument. It is bordered by the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area on the east and south. The popular hiking, backpacking and canyoneering areas include the slot canyons of Peekaboo, Spooky and Brimstone Canyons, and the backpacking areas of lower Coyote Gulch and Harris Wash. The Devil’s Garden is also located in this area. Access is via the Hole-in-the-Rock-Road which extends southeast from the town of Escalante, along the base of Fifty-Mile Mountain.