The allure of Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument (GSENM) is phenomenal. Nearly 3, 000 square miles of sun-drenched Utah backcountry spread out well beyond the visible horizon from the road, whether you’re traveling along the All-American Highway, Scenic Byway 12, or on Highway 89. That's nearly 1.9-million acres of colorful sandstone cliffs soaring above narrow slot canyons; picturesque washes and seemingly endless slickrock; prehistoric village sites and abandoned old Western movie sets, among many other treasures.
Grand Staircase–Escalante, Utah occupies a transitional "step" zone between Bryce Canyon and the high Paunsaugunt Plateau through a sequence of brightly colored cliffs, Zion National Park and the Grand Canyon in Arizona. As the name suggests, the monument can logically be divided into two distinct areas, Grand Staircase and the Escalante River Canyon and tributaries, separated by what could be viewed as a third area: the Kaiparowits Plateau.
The Escalante Canyons section and Escalante River tributaries are the most popular area of the monument, especially among hikers. Active waterfalls, arches, riparian oases, sculpted slickrock and narrow canyons such as Peek-a-boo and Spooky Gulch are part of the appeal of hikes through the Escalante’s backcountry.
At Grand Staircase–Escalante, Utah visitors will find a vast and pristine backcountry that affords excellent opportunities for solitude and unconfined wilderness recreation, along with great scenic driving opportunities and endless camping options, both developed and primitive. But wherever you travel in this magnificent landscape, whether a drive down remote desert roads or a hike up lonely canyons, you will be rewarded at the end of your trip with vivid memories and a yearning to return.