The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is located in southwest Utah and is a part of the Grand Circle of parks including Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands, Grand Canyon, Capitol Reef, Mesa Verde, and Monument Valley. This nearly 200-million acre monument is the largest national monument in the country and dates back 275 million years, however, it is relatively new to us as the last mapped area in the contiguous United States. With impressive plateaus, long stretching canyons, dramatic cliffs, and scenic waterfalls, this national monument is a hiker's and canyoneer's dream with its endless hiking trails and beautiful vistas. This expansive monument has provided some of the most impressive wealth of ancient and modern science and since the year 2000, numerous dinosaur fossils over 75 million years old and an entirely new discovered species have been found within the GSENM. The monument is rich in history not only in paleontology but also with native Puebloan peoples, Mormon settlements and cattle ranchers as well. The area was officially declared as a national monument by former President Bill Clinton in 1996.
The national monument is divided into three geographic sections including from west to east the Grand Staircase, Kaiparowits Plateau and the Canyons of Escalante. Some of the most popular points of interest within the park include Hells Backbone, Calf Creek Falls, and Coyote Gulch and activities include hiking, ATVing, fishing, horseback riding, and mountain climbing. The Grand Staircase, aptly named for the series of plateaus descending from Bryce Canyon down toward the Grand Canyon, is marked by vertical drops at the Pink, Grey, White, Vermilion and Chocolate Cliffs. Within this colorful area of the park, you'll also find Paria Canyon, Buckskin Gulch and Wire Pass to name a few. Up at nine thousand feet in elevation sits the Kaiparowits Plateau - pronounced exactly how it is spelled - the most remote area of the park filled with archaeological fossils. This impressive expanse of land features areas including Lake Pasture, Death Ridge, Last Chance Gulch, Carcass Canyon and Fiftymile Creek. Within the Canyons of Escalante, you'll see some of the most breathtaking views in this rugged paradise. Carved millions of years ago by the Escalante River, the narrow canyons, towering walls and stunning grottoes left in its wake are truly awe-inspiring. Within this area of the park, you'll find Death Hollow, Coyote Gulch and Calf Creek.