Road Tripping Through The Escalante Grand Staircase


Thanks to a strained knee, I couldn’t go on too many hikes after Canyonlands National Park – so Sam and I decided to take a day-long road trip out of Bryce Canyon National Park along Scenic Route 12 through the Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument.

The Wikipedia entry on it is quite dry and doesn’t come close to highlighting any of the extreme beauty of the land:

The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is a U.S. National Monument protecting 1,880,461 acres of land in southern Utah. There are three main regions: the Grand Staircase, the Kaiparowits Plateau, and the Canyons of the Escalante – all of which are administered by the Bureau of Land Management as part of the National Landscape Conservation System. President Bill Clinton designated the area as a national monument in 1996 using his authority under the Antiquities Act. Grand Staircase-Escalante encompasses the largest land area of all U.S. National Monuments.

That last line especially doesn’t do justice to the real thing. Escalante is huge. I mean really, really huge. We drove all day long at an average speed of 60 miles an hour which means we drove for about 200 miles (accounting for stops and so on) and still only saw a tiny fraction of the whole thing. Here’s our initial planned route, which was about 78 miles, but we took multiple detours to see the Anasazi Indian Museum, the Escalante Petrified Forest and the Kodachrome Basin State Park (which we ended up not entering thanks to the rather high entrance fee!)

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Although I could try to describe the place, I think it would be far more beneficial to just let the pictures do the talking for me! Here they are, and I hope you enjoy them!

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  • J

    Did you find people who were living near the places that you travelled? Tell us more about how the live in that terrain, what do they do for a living, and stuff like that!

  • Well, we passed, I think, three towns total. The vast majority of the trip was driving through the wilderness where no one has lived for thousands of years – the last people to live in this region were the ancient Pueblo Indians and there are varying reasons why people think they left or were driven out. (I learned this in the Anasazi Indian Museum).

    As for the towns we did pass, all of the people seemed to be farmers and the support staff for farmers – seed shops, a few hardware stores, a single restaurant, a high school, maybe a sheriff’s office. That’s about it. Apart for the areas immediately around the towns, the land was essentially uncultivable. Rock and desert. So no, not too many people at all! We saw very few cars that weren’t tourist-filled either, and we didn’t see too many cars to begin with!