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Welcome to the United States newest national monument. The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was established by Presidential Proclaimation in the Fall of 1996. Approximately 1.9 million acres roughly encompasses the drainages of the Paria and Escalante Rivers. The monument is under the supervision of the United States Bureau of Land Management. It is arguably the least developed of the Parks and Monuments in the 48 contiguous states. For the visitor this means spectacular scenery, but no services and, for the most part, unpaved roads. It is absolutely critical for anyone visiting the monument to get local, current information. In the Escalante area the Interagency Office on the UT-12 (west edge of Escalante) is ideally suited and located to provide this information.
The most common questions we get are: "Where's the "Staircase"" and "Can I climb the "Staircase""
The term "Grand Staircase" has been used by geologists to describe the unique geologic sequence in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The Grand Canyon has long been recognized by geologists for its sequence of rock layers that tell the story of a great deal of the Earth's history. Above the rocks of the Grand Canyon sit the rock layers comprising the Grand Staircase. While most of the rock layers within the Grand Canyon can be seen from various vantage points on the rim, the rock layers of the Grand Staircase are spread over great distances. Some of these rock layers are resistant enough to erosion to form cliffs, each of which has a distinctive color. Starting from the south (closest to the Grand Canyon), the cliffs that make up the "staircase" are:
  • Vermillion Cliffs- composed of the Moenave, Kayenta, and lower Navajo Sandstone Formations. As the seas that formed the rim rock of the Grand Canyon retreated, rivers deposited silt across ancient tidal zones, then eventually desert dunes covered terrain. This step is easy to see near Kanab, Utah (at the southern edge of the monument).
  • White Cliffs- composed of the upper Navajo Sandstone, formed by the deposition of sand in ancient sand dunes. This step is easily seen in the Escalante and Calf Creek areas.
  • Gray Cliffs- composed of the Tropic and Straight Cliffs Formations, these were deposited as sediment in streams and swamps. The Gray Cliffs are well known for fossil fuel deposits. (These deposits have generated a great deal of the controversy surrounding the new monument.) This step is seen in the central portion of the Monument especially along the Hole-in-the-Rock Road.
  • Pink Cliffs- composed of the Wasatch Formation, which was deposited as mud, silt, and limestone in a series of lakes. Bryce Canyon National Park (60 miles east of Escalante) is an outstanding example of this step, and is easily seen around the town of Tropic.

Additional information about Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument can be obtained from the following links:

Attractions/Public Services/Maps/History/Grand Staircase-Escalante Visitor Information/Businesses/Boulder Home Page
Boulder Home Page History of Escalante's Seasons Chamber of Commerce Address
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