Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Staircase-Escalante National Monument
The Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument is huge, taking up almost two-million acres of wilderness in the vast lands of Southern Utah.
It extends 150 miles from bottom
to top and rises 3,500 feet in elevation. Late
in 1996, President Clinton set aside the land for the monument. Congress gave presidents the authority to designate lands
as monument through the Antiquities Act of 1906. In 1996 President Clinton used
this law to protect much of the pristine wilderness of Southern Utah. There is a treasure chest of paleontological sites out in the wilderness of the staircase that is for all the world to share and enjoy. The land is divided into three sections: the Grand Staircase, Kaiparowits Plateau, and the Canyons of the Escalante. There are two major river systems in the monument, the Paria and the Escalante.
Grand Staircase Lodging
What part is Staircase and What is Escalante?
The name Grand Staircase comes from the steps
or layered cliffs that begin at the North Rim of the Grand
Canyon, reaching all the way to
the pink cliffs of Bryce Canyon. The pink cliffs are the edge of the Paunsaugunt
Plateau and the top of the Staircase. The Escalante portion of the
name came from Sivestre Velez de Escalante who was on the Dominguez Escalante
expedition to Utah in 1776. The town Escalante and the Escalante River were also
named for this man. The Skutumpah Plateau is usually referred to as the Grand
Staircase. All the layers of the Staircase
can be observed when approaching the Utah town of Kanab
from Arizona. The section of the monument near the town of Escalante is often referred to as the Escalante. The Kaiparowits Plateau contains 650,000 acres in the southern third of the monument.
Willis Creek is an amazing slot canyon adventure through a flat, stony stream-bed path with towering walls. This is an ideal family hike
and the dirt road from Glendale to Willis Creek is something many
kids will also enjoy. Begin the hike at the trailhead located just off the Skutumpah Road. This can be a short hike, exploring as far as you like or it can be part of a two day hiking adventure starting at Bull Valley Gorge, then to Sheep Creek and out Willis Creek. The walls of the canyon and the lighting make this one of the most photogenic canyons anywhere.
The Grand Staircase-Escalante can be entered from the small town of Glendale, in East Zion.
The Staircase is a virtual mecca of floral diversity. Eighty-four percent of the flora and about fifty percent of the rare
species in Utah are found in the monument. Much of this land is undisturbed where scientists work on various projects.
So far, the findings show that there are about 125 species of plants
that are only found in Utah or the Colorado Plateau and 11 species are found
no where else in the world.