Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is a flagship unit of the National Landscape Conservation System, one of the nation’s newest conservation initiatives, which is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. This 1.9 million-acre monument was set aside in 1996 to preserve its wide open spaces and intact ecosystems that allow for a treasure trove of scientific opportunities. It is surrounded by national parks, wilderness areas, national forests, state parks, and additional BLM public lands, that when combined, make up one of the largest publicly managed land masses in the lower 48 states.
The Monument’s spectacular scenery is made up of three distinct regions: the Grand Staircase, the Kaiparowits Plateau, and the Canyons of the Escalante. Extending across the southwest corner of the Monument, the Grand Staircase is a series of massive geological steps that descend toward the Grand Canyon in Arizona. The five cliff formations—Pink, Gray, White, Vermilion, and Chocolate—are classic examples of biological diversity, spanning five different life zones and harboring a surprising array of birds, mammals, and plants. The Kaiparowits Plateau is the Monument’s central section. A massive, isolated region of mesas and canyons, the Kaiparowits is rich in Native American archaeological sites and paleontological resources. The Canyons of the Escalante are a series of labyrinthine canyons through sandstone that feed the Escalante River as it makes its way to the Colorado River.
Light and shadow play out here on a grand tableau, enormous blue skies stretch into eternity overhead, and rock is a constant. Where water is present in this arid land, there are signs of life: cougar tracks, insects skating across potholes, swallows nesting in an alcove.
Regardless of which region of the Monument you visit, this is a land of silence, space, and scenery that defies description and inspires the imagination.
Grand Staircase Escalante Nat’l. Monument (BLM)