The huge, 1.9-million-acre/768,902-hectare Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is a remote area of colorful plateaus, canyons and cliffs. It lies southwest of Capitol Reef National Park, extending south almost to Lake Powell and west to the border of Bryce Canyon National Park. It is 220 mi/355 km south of Salt Lake City.
There are six regional visitors centers that service this area: Escalante Interagency Visitor's Center, located at the west end of the town of Escalante (755 W. Main St., Escalante; phone 435-826-5499); Kanab Visitors Center, near Cottonwood Canyon (745 E. U.S. 89, Kanab; phone 435-644-4680); Canyonville Visitor Center, which is located North of Cottonwood and Johnson Canyons (10 Center St., Canyonville; phone 435-826-5640); Big Water Visitor Center, which has a small museum showcasing dinosaur bones excavated in the area (100 Upper Revolution Way, Big Water; phone 435-675-3200); Anasazi State Park, which also has a museum and a pueblo replica (460 N. Highway 12, Boulder); and Paria Contact Station, located right before Paria Canyon (on U.S. 89).
This beautiful, isolated landscape is great for hiking, mountain biking, camping, hunting, fishing and four-wheel-drive outings. Our most memorable experience was hiking through incredibly narrow slot canyons (Peek A Boo and Spooky gulches). And don't miss Calf Creek Falls. On the monument's south side, off Highway 89, is the Paria Canyon area, a mysterious array of narrow sandstone canyons distinguished by undulating curves and subtle, swirling colors.
Don't underestimate the extreme nature of Grand Staircase-Escalante: Slot canyons and dry washes can be death traps when it rains (even if the showers are falling miles/kilometers away), and most of the park is a long way from civilization. Take adequate supplies, including plenty of water, food and a full tank of gas, when you head into the remote backcountry. You might consider hiring an outfitter to guide your adventure.
Information is available at the Bureau of Land Management field office in the town of Escalante and at the bureau's website. http://www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/fo/grand_staircase-escalante.html.
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