Photo © Christopher Keith Eaton
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is a dramatic, multi-hued landscape that is rich in natural
and human history. Extending across 1.9 million acres of Utah public lands managed by the Bureau of Land
Management, the Monument represents a unique combination of archaeological, historical, paleontological,
geological, and biological resources. These strikingly beautiful and scientifically important lands are
divided into three distinct regions: the Grand Staircase, the Kaiparowits Plateau, and the
Canyons of the Escalante.
The Grand Staircase - A Museum of Earth History
The cream- and rose-colored cliffs of Navajo sandstone pictured here are the third in a series of great
geological steps that ascend northward across the southwest corner of the Monument. This Grand Staircase-
the Chocolate, Vermilion, White, Gray, and Pink Cliffs--spans five different life zones from Sonoran desert
to coniferous forests. It is a masterpiece of geological and biological diversity. Geologist Clarence Dutton
described what he termed a grand stairway of sequential cliffs and terraces in his Report of the Geology of
the High Plateaus of Utah (1880).
Canyons of the Escalante - Wonders in Water & Stone
The Escalante River cascades off the southern flank of the Aquarius Plateau, winding through a 1,000-mile
maze of interconnected canyons. This magical labyrinth is one of the scenic wonders of the West. Even though
Spanish explorer and priest Father Silvestre Velez de Escalante never wet a boot or even saw the river, his
is the namesake given by the Powell survey crew that discovered and named the Escalante River in 1872.
The Kaiparowits Plateau--An American Outback
A vast wedge-shaped block of mesas and deeply incised canyons towers above the surrounding canyonlands. The
isolated, rugged plateau is refuge for wildlife, rare plants, and a few adventure-ready individuals equipped
to handle profound solitude and uncompromising wild country. "The Kaiparowits was the name for a point near
the north end of the plateau so we decided to call the whole mountain by that name," wrote A. H. Thompson.
It is a Paiute name meaning "Big Mountain’s Little Brother." Many sites from prehistoric cultures have been
recorded on the Plateau. Many more are preserved for future study.