Grand Staircase Near Kanab Utah
The Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument located in southern Utah is a huge area of land covering 1.7 million acres. This beautiful area was the first monument that was created by the Bureau of Land Management as opposed to the National Park Service of the United States. The Grand Staircase has a huge variety of formations and has some of the most well-known paleontological sites in the world.
The Grand Staircase is a geological area that was created of millions of years and is a stage of multicolored cliffs, canyons, buttes, pinnacles, mesas, and plateaus. The Grand Staircase is made up of three major sections: the Grand Staircase, Te Kaiparowits Plateau, and The Canyons of the Escalante.
If you are seeking a place to be adventurous where you can wander around the outdoors alone and in solitude, this is the place. The terrain in the Grand Staircase area is considered some of the most rugged in the south west. This is also one of the main locations many geological enthusiasts flock to for studying the history of our earth and mainly that part of the world. The formations are beautiful to look at and one cannot help but wonder how they were created.
The Grand Staircase is made up of land formations that rise up in a tilted fashion making up what is called the Grand Staircase. There are 4 major areas that have come to be known as the Vermillion, White, Gray, and Pink cliffs. These cliffs expose 200 million year of history. It’s a geological library of information that many scientists come to explore and study.
Deep red colored Moenkopi sandstone is what the Vermilion Cliffs are made of. This area contains many fossils of fish and dinosaurs from the Triassic Period. Just north of the Vermilion Cliffs is the White Cliffs which are made of Jurassic sand dunes which have been made solid over a long period of time into Navajo sandstone.
Farther above the White Cliffs are the Gray Cliffs which are not as pronounced as the other areas with cliffs, but once were home to ocean covered area. Evidence of marine life have been found in the area such as sea shells, sharks teeth, and marsh plants. The very top of the Grand Staircase is the Pink Cliffs which were created from fresh water deposits of an ancient fresh water lake, and mostly located in Bryce Canyon National park.
The Kaiparowits Plateau
One area of Grand Stair Case known as the Kaiparowits Plateau, is a rugged 800,000 plus acre are that is considered to be the wildest, most arid, and most remote part of the Monument. The Kaiparowits is considered to be one of the best records of the Late Cretaceous areas in the world. Many describe the area as maze of canyons with just a few isolated springs and creeks. Here you will find steep cliffs, broad canyons, red colored hills, and soil poisonous to most plants. There is also a lot of level areas of forest with thousand year-old juniper trees and home to a diverse population of mammals and birds, including 17 species of raptors that ride the constant wind in this area.
Canyons of the Escalante
The Canyons of the Escalante is an hikers paradise with just about every type of terrain you can imagine. With trails and terrain from 3,700 – 11,000 feet, you will find mazes of cliffs, canyons, and plateaus to explore. You will find gardens of a large variety of plant life over the edge of natural rock overhangs and alcoves. The Canyons are a part of a natural basin surrounded by areas of the Colorado Plateau. There is not many roads into this area. Highway 89 from the Kanab/Big Water area and Highway 12 from the Escalante/Boulder area are the two main roads in. Most other roads are considered remote and poorly maintained, if at all.
You will find a large variety of plant life and animal species. A great deal of this area is very remote and dangerous. There are very few marked trails throughout the Canyons. If you are not experienced in hiking in such remote and rugged terrain and areas, you are better suited to explore the Grand Canyon, or Bryce Canyon.
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Scenic Drives: The Road between Escalante and Torrey has been described as the most scenic road in Utah. If you got a good reliable car for driving in remote areas, this road is well worth the drive and make sure you have a camera, because I can guarantee you will be using it quite a lot. Some of the other scenic drives that have been favorites are the, Burr Trail, Hell’s Backbone Road, Hole in the Rock Road, and State Highway 12. Take note: road and weather conditions can and do change rapidly certain times of the year so make sure that you are well prepared for anything.
Off Roading or 4×4 Trails: If it is off roading that you are in to, there are millions of acres and miles and miles of terrain for you to explore. There are high altitude drives approaching 11,000. The Grand Staircase is a favorite location with views unlike anywhere else on earth. Some areas are easy for new off roaders and some require advanced experience. As with any activity in the remote areas, be prepared for anything and any type of weather. Be prepared for breakdowns and make sure you have a good tow strap, spare tire, extra food and water, and pretty much anything you need to survive just in case you get stranded. There is guide services available offering tours from experienced off roaders.
Camping: This is actually a great place to go camping if you have the equipment are prepared to camp in a rugged dry environment, Camping is considered a major recreational use of the area. Both the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service offer well maintained camping areas in scenic locations. Camping fees are charged on some of the more developed sites. The most popular sites are Calf Creek, Posy Lake, and Blue Spruce. Supplies for your camping can be purchased at nearby grocery stores and will have all your basic needs available.
Biking: Mountain bikers and road bikers alike will find that this place has tons of some of the most unique and beautiful places to ride in America. Whether it is on the paved roads or on the trails, bikers will not be disappointed. Mountain bikers must be forewarned that riding is limited to designated trails. Don’t worry, you still have access to over 2,000 miles of riding! There is plenty of bike riding here regardless of your skill level whether it be on the road or the trails.
Fishing: There are tons of wonderful places to fish here. Even the most experienced fishermen don’t even think of coming to a place like this to do some fishing. Make no mistake, it is worth the effort. Most of the fishing takes place on the Aquarius Plateau/Boulder Mountain, way above the deserts below. There are tons of hidden small ponds and creeks where fishermen venture off to. Most avid fishermen don’t reveal their secret spots, but let’s just say that many report large Trout and plenty of it. Fishing permits are required and can be purchased at most local gas stations and grocery stores. More information and maps are available at the Escalante Interagency Office on Main Street. For those of you that want some insider tips, there are fishing guides available as well.
Some areas of the Escalante Resource Area are open to ORV use. Sheer canyon cliffs and generally-rough terrain restrict ORV use in many locations to existing roads and trails. To operate any type of vehicle on public lands you must observe all state and local regulations. Drive in a careful, responsible manner. Driving in a manner which creates excessive damage or disturbance to the land, wildlife, or vegetative resources is prohibited. Some areas are closed to motorized vehicles and mountain bikes. Contact the BLM office in Escalante; they can inform you of any ORV restricted areas and direct you to areas suitable for your type of ORV use. All motorized and non-motorized vehicles are restricted to maintained roads within Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
Weather In Escalante
If you plan on coming to visit the areas near the Grand Staircase and Escalante, prepare for a dry experience. There is only an average of about 10 inches of precipitation per year. From June to Early September you will find it normal to encounter thunderstorms. The most rain falls from about October to June. Summer temperatures range from upper 90’s to and lows to the mid 60’s. Winters range from 40’s to lows in the mid-teens. On average winters get about 28 inches of snow which can fall from the sky as early as October through March and even April.
The traveler is advised to be aware of weather conditions before hiking or driving in this area. Mountain and desert roads can become impassable, and flash floods are a possibility after rainstorms. Rainstorms far upstream can catch a hiker unprepared in a downstream canyon.
NOTE: Travelers off paved highways are advised to carry tow chains, a shovel, extra water and gas, food, a first aid kit, a flashlight, and other items necessary in case of an emergency.
Food, fuel, and lodging are available in the communities of Escalante and Boulder.
Area Administration Information & Links
The lands in the Escalante Resource Area are managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The National Park Service takes care of and manages areas including Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Capitol Reef National park. The National Forest Service manages and services the Dixie National Forest area. There are also State and private land so make sure you are aware of any regulations and laws regarding any specific area that you visit. For more information on this area, check out the links below.
- Bureau of Land Management Escalante Resource Area, P.O. Box 225, Escalante, Utah 84726 Phone: 435-826-4291. The office is located .5 mile west of the town of Escalante on the south side of Highway 12.
- National Park Service Glen Canyon N.R.A. Escalante District, P.O. Box 511, Escalante, Utah 84726 Phone: 435-826-4315. The office is located next to BLM office .5 mile west of the Town of Escalante on the south side of Highway 12.
- Dixie National Forest Escalante Ranger District, P.O. Box 245, Escalante, Utah 84726 Phone: 435-826-4221. The office is located on the north side of Highway 12 in the Town of Escalante.
Recreation In Grand Staircase National Monument
Unfortunately, the The Grand Staircase National Monument near Kanab, Utah is one of the more remote locations for things to do. It is over three hours by car to get there, but when you do get there.
Dixie National Park has tons to do. Whatever it is that your family likes to do, chances are this place has it. Winters are cold and summers are pleasant. Not matter the season there is an activity for you to do here.
Mountain Biking – There are tons of trails here for biking. There is tons of riding for you to come here and explore. There is no reason for you to be bored here.
Camping – This is not exactly a camping mecca, but if you want quiet and isolation, then this is a great choice.There is a dry arid climate so make sure that you come prepared with lots of water.
Hiking – There is hundreds of miles of trails here for hiking. This is a great way to see The Grand Staircase National Monument and see the diverse landscape
Fishing – There are lots of places to fish here at Grand Staircase National Monument. There are tons of places so do some research and learn where you can explore.
Hunting – If you are a hunter, there is a lot of places that you can come prepared with your hunting gear and go after that big game that you love to hunt.
Off Roading – There is a lot of off road possibilities to come bring your off road toys and come to play.