Cornforth Images

Grand Staircase-Escalante

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is located in southern Utah, north of Lake Powell and east of Bryce Canyon National Park. There are three main regions: the Grand Staircase, the Kaiparowits Plateau, and the Canyons of the Escalante. The vast and austere landscape embraces a spectacular array of scientific and historic resources. This high, rugged, and remote region, where bold plateaus and multi-hued cliffs run for distances that defy human perspective, was the last place in the continental United States to be mapped.

The western part of the Monument is dominated by the Paunsaugunt Plateau and the Paria River, and is adjacent to Bryce Canyon National Park. This section shows the geologic progression of the Grand Staircase. The center section is dominated by a single long ridge, called Kaiparowits Plateau from the west, and called Fifty-Mile Mountain when viewed from the east. Fifty-Mile Mountain stretchs southeast from the town of Escalante to the Colorado River in Glen Canyon. The eastern face of the mountain is a steep, 2200 foot (650 m) escarpment. The western side (the Kaiparowits Plateau) is a shallow slope descending to the south and west, and is the largest roadless piece of land in the lower 48 states. President Clinton designated the area as a National Monument in 1996 using his authority under the Antiquities Act.

Photography in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is an incredibly rewarding experience, but usually involves multi-day backpacking trips. Coyote Gulch has spectacular waterfalls and cottonwood trees that turn yellow in the fall. The famous Zebra, Peek-A-Boo, and Spooky slot canyons are all located south of the town of Escalante.