Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

IMG_8676Location: 745 US-89, Kanab, UT 84741

Designation: National Monument

Date NPS designation declared: 9/18/1996

Date of my visit: 4/12/2017

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At the time of our visit, this monument covered a vast 1.8 million acres of the geological ‘staircase’ which has its bottom step in the Grand Canyon in Arizona and its top step in Bryce Canyon, Utah. In December 2017, Trump reduced the size of this monument by 47%. The Sierra Club and other conservation organizations have filed a lawsuit challenging the president’s authority to undo monuments declared by other presidents under the antiquities act.

Aside from its size, this National Monument also differes from most of the others in that it is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. What we saw of this park was from our drive on Route 12, a Scenic Byway, and various roadside stops between Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef.

IMG_8572Red Canyon Tunnels: We actually stopped for this Scenic Byway 12 placard and photo opp just before entering Bryce Canyon. These tunnels were carved through the red rock to create the road to the new ‘Utah National Park’, Later named Bryce Canyon. They were referred to as the Gateway to Fairyland.



Powell Point: Upon leaving Bryce Canyon, we stopped at the Grand Escalante visitor center in Cannonville, but it was not yet open for the season. So we continued along Route 12 until we found a promising rest stop, which turned out to be Powell Point. In 1871 this was the last uncharted land in the continental US and the second Powell Expedition set out to put it on the map. From this point, you can see the topmost layer of the Colorado Plateau, the pink cliffs.



Escalante Petrified Forest: It was getting to be late in the afternoon when we reached the town of Escalante, so we could choose to go to the visitor center and get my pin or opt outdoors. We chose the Escalante Petrified Forest. It was $8 for the car load (part of Utah’s great State Park system.) We hiked a short, but very steep trail to the top of a butte or mesa. At the top, there were pieces of petrified wood scattered throughout and nice views of a lake or reservoir nearby. We hadn’t taken the time to read the explanation of how the trees turned to stone before going up because we really needed to stretch our legs. My daughter was fascinated by it, so we had to stop by the displays on


IMG_8671the way back down to read all about it. A nice one hour edutainment stop! Tip: Bring lots of water…it was only April, but this may have been the hottest hike we took in Utah.

Hell’s Backbone Grill: I’d reserved us a table by e-mail long before we left for this trip and boy was I glad I did. We got there right as the restaurant opened and there was already a line of people waiting to see if they could get in without reservations. This was the best dining experience of our entire Utah trip. We made reservations and stopped here for dinner on our way from Bryce Canyon to Capitol Reef. We got there right when they opened for dinner and we were glad we had reservations because there was a line of people waiting to get in.
The two ladies who own this cafe are wonderful. Both of them stopped by during the course of our meal to see how we were doing…we just really got a great vibe being in this cheery, fun atmosphere.
The food is locally sourced, organic and prepared to perfection. We had a steak, spicy mac and cheese (pure comfort) and lamb meatballs. We should have shared a dessert because the three of us could not finish two we ordered: lemon poppyseed bread pudding and a sinful pot of chocolate. YUM





13 thoughts on “Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

  1. The first time we drove route 12 from Bryce to Capitol Reef, we were pulling a trailer and I remember part of the road having sheer drop-offs on both sides. Generally we did not stop much in Escalante. Reading your post make me want to correct that the next time we are that way.

    1. Oh yeah, there were parts of that road where I had a death grip on the oh she*t handle. A few turnouts I wish we’d stopped at, but didn’t want to be in the mountain pass after dark. If I was to go back, I might stay a night in boulder to have more time to explore.

  2. Thank you for visiting and following my blog. I also love our National Parks. When we did our cross country trip in 2013, we visited all the National Parks along the way.

  3. Escalante is one of the most unique National treasures, and I pray that the courts rein in our tyrant-in-chief! And that our country comes to its senses in the 2018 elections and beyond…

    1. Absolutely! I saw an article somewhere on wordpress recently that the re-drawn boundaries conveniently takes one of the Utah congressional rep’s ranch property out of the monument and that same rep has proposed naming a stretch of Utah highway after Trump AND the National Parks because he is such a friend to our public lands. I donated to the Sierra Club because they are pursuing this matter through lawsuits…I hope they will triumph

  4. We drove by the signs for this on our last trip to Utah but didn’t have the time to go in. Next time! In the meantime, glad to get a preview with these amazing pics!

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