There is so much to see in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, it would take a lifetime just to scratch the surface. Only a few roads have been pushed into this area; mile after endless mile of backcountry can only be seen by people willing to lace up hiking boots and hit the trail. From day hikes to multi-day treks to rock climbing and technical canyoneering, the possibilities are endless. Read more...
The national monument can be divided into three main sections. The western section offers technicolor cliffs of Vermilion, white, gray and pink sandstone exposing 200 million years of geology. The Paria River and its tributaries have carved out buttes, mesas and canyons unlike any found anywhere else in the world. Many people think Buckskin Gulch offers one of the world's best long canyon hike, and several other canyons in the Paria drainage also offer excellent hiking opportunities.
The Kaiparowits Plateau section of around 800,000 acres consists of some of the wildest and most remote country in the lower 48 states. This central section is a high-elevation plateau cut by many rugged canyons. There's little water - just a few sweeps and intermittent small streams. The colors of the oxidized rock will amaze you and there is a rich supply of plant and animal life, including 1000-year-old juniper trees. There are few roads here and no maintained trails. This is a great area for people who want to get away from it all, but is not appropriate for beginners out on their own.
The Escalante Canyons comprise the eastern third of the monument. This area has large expanses of Navajo sandstone (known as slickrock) into which the Escalante and its tributaries have carved deep and convoluted canyons. When you descend into one of the canyons from the desert above you find yourself in a world of salmon colored cliffs, lush plant life and ruins from the ancient Anasazi Indian civilization. There are natural bridges, sandstone arches and deep canyons begging to be explored. This area is popular with day hikers and backpackers, but it is relatively easy to find solitude in this incredibly beautiful natural setting.
Some of the more popular hikes in this area include Upper and Lower Calf Creek Falls, Escalante Natural Bridge, and Hole-in-the-Rock Road hikes including Spooky Gulch and Coyote Gulch.