Southern Utah is home to many spectacular natural wonders that should be on everyone’s bucket list, but the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument is an absolute must-see! Its vast, pristine wilderness areas offer unparalleled beauty and endless options for nature lovers. 

If you’re looking for a place where you can get away from it all and experience unconfined wilderness recreational activities, the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument is the place for you. Here’s why it’s a must-see for everyone visiting the wilderness areas in southern Utah. 

The Escalante Canyons

Bighorn Slot Canyon in Grand Staircase Escalante Canyons

The Escalante Canyons are located in the northern part of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. They start out as modest draws that drain the flanks of Boulder Mountain. As they begin to carve out the Navajo Sandstone in the area, they morph into a network of slickrock gorges that are stunningly beautiful as they feed the main Escalante River. 

In the upper part of the Escalante Canyons, just below Boulder Mountain, these slickrock gorges emerge suddenly with profound dimensions. Very few places in the world can rival the breathtaking beauty of this part of the monument. 

Visitors to the area will be rewarded with spectacular arches, sculpted slickrock, and active waterfalls. You can also see stunning riparian oases. These incredible natural formations make this area one of the most popular parts of the monument.

Kaiparowits Plateau

Devil's Garden in the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument

Located northeast of the Escalante Canyons and to the west of the Grand Staircase region, this area comprises 1,600 square miles. It is separated from the Grand Staircase by the Paria River.

Its sedimentary rock formations boast an unbroken record of fossils that spans some 30 million years of the Late Cretaceous Era. And yes, here there be dinosaurs, or at least their fossils. That makes this area one of the more scientifically important parts of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and a must-see for visitors to the region. 

The Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument

The Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument

The eponymous Grand Staircase itself is located in the westernmost portion of the monument. It’s a remote area that is less frequently visited than the other areas. In fact, The Grand Staircase boasts the most extensive network of slot canyons in Utah. 

Like the Kaiparowits Plateau, you’ll find a rich paleontological record here, as well as a colorful succession of ‘risers’ that form the staircase that culminates in the 9000-foot edge of Utah’s High Plateaus. 

From south to north, the risers include the Shinarump Cliffs, the Vermillion Cliffs, the White Cliffs, the Gray Cliffs, and the Pink Cliffs. As you traverse each cliff band, you’ll find progressively higher terraces. You’ll also find incredible views of the nearly 3,000-foot-deep canyon carved by the Paria River in this part of the monument. 

It’s spectacular, to say the least, but many parts are impassable when wet, and the area is not suitable for RVs or trailers. Still, if it’s solitude and breathtaking vistas you’re looking for, this is where you need to be!

For a Unique Place to Stay, Check Out Escalante Yurts

Escalante Yurts near the Grand Staircase Escalante

To complement the unique beauty of the Grand Staircase Escalante Monument, Escalante Yurts offers a fun, friendly, and unique place to stay. There’s a yurt for every size of group, and each yurt is heated and cooled, comes with comfortable beds and soft linens, a private deck, and you also get a hearty breakfast to start your day! 

It’s the perfect place to stay while you check out the stunning scenery of the Grand Staircase Escalante region. Make your reservation today

Images: 

  1. Metate Arch by John Fowler from Placitas, NM, USA, via Wikimedia Commons
  2. Bighorn Slot Canyon in Escalante Canyons by Escalante Yurts
  3. The Devil’s Garden by GerthMichael at German Wikipedia
  4. The Grand Staircase by Azuki350, via Wikimedia Commons
  5. Escalante Yurts by Escalante Yurts