East Zion Cabins
Zion RV Park
Zion National Park
Pink Sand Dunes
The Ultimate Southwest Vacation includes the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument!
Stay in Mt. Carmel Jct., the heart of the parks, and visit
the treasures of the Southwest.
Mileage: Mt. Carmel Jct.
Plan your Grand Staircase- Escalante National Monument vacation
with our Utah and Arizona maps.
Zion Park 12 miles
Grand Staircase 9 miles
Sand Dunes 11 miles
Dixie Forest 22 miles
Cedar Breaks 45 miles
Red Canyon 47 miles
Coyote Butte 57 miles
Bryce Canyon 60 miles
North Rim 85 miles
Toroweap 90 miles
In these pages you will find insiders information on the best
Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument hikes. This detailed
guide includes road maps, park maps, pictures, trail beta, backpacking, history,
fees, geology, flora, fauna, campgrounds, things for kids to do and even information
on the Grand Staircase hidden treasures.
Making summer memories in Utah's national monuments.
Directions: East Zion to Staircase
Salt Lake City, travel south on I15 to U-20. Exit on U-20. Turn south on U-89
and follow U-89 to Glendale.
From Las Vegas: Travel I15 to exit 16. Follow U-9 to the south
entrance of Zion and through to the east entrance. Take U-9 for 12 miles to
Mt. Carmel Jct, where U-89 and U-9 meet. Drive north on U-89 to Glendale.
From Glendale, turn right on 300 N. (Bench Road) Follow the
graded dirt road, Skutumpah, into the Grand Staircase. Remember the Grand Staircase
is a wild and remote place. The dirt roads may be impassible when wet and there
is usually no water, services or cell phone access. Skutumpah is a backway and
should only be traveled in dry conditions. Call for road and weather information
before travel: 435.644.4680
Taking up almost 2 million acres, the Grand Staircase Escalante
National Monument (GSENM) is huge! Here the layers are seen from highway 89A
in Arizona from the "Le Fevre Overlook" in Kaibab National Forest.
Viewing the Whole Grand Staircase
Several miles out from the Utah town of Kanab, all five stairsteps of the
Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument can be seen. The Grand Staircase
National Monument is huge, consisting of almost two million acres of plateaus,
mesas, buttes, slot canyons - all in a primitive setting.
Grand Staircase-Escalante Geology
The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is a vast landscape, one-hundred
by two-hundred miles, governed by the BLM. This monument is a separate
entity from other nearby parks and monuments, even though they are part of
its geological makeup. For millions of years, sediments were deposited in the low lands. These sediments
formed layers of sandstone, shale and mudstone. A short time ago in geological
time, perhaps ten million years, the slow uplift of the Colorado Plateau began.
Colors and Age of the Grand Staircase
The Grand Staircase is made up of five tilted,
southward, facing escarpments called stairsteps. The stairsteps rise 5500' and
range from the North Rim Grand Canyon through Zion National Park to the uppermost
riser, the pink cliffs of Bryce Canyon. Although there are other exposed areas
of claron formation, geologists usually think of Bryce Canyon, Red Canyon and
Cedar Breaks when speaking of pink cliffs.
The steps of the Grand Staircase are described by their colors: chocolate, vermillion,
white, gray and pink. The bottom step is made of limestone and is known as the
North Rim Grand Canyon. Interestingly however, the Grand Staircase-Escalante
National Monument does not include Zion, Bryce, Red Canyon, Cedar Breaks or
the Grand Canyon although they are all part of its geological make-up.
Oldest: Chocolate Layer - Grand Canyon
Chocolate Step - The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is the oldest and the bottom
layer of the Grand Staircase. Made up of Kaibab limestone, it formed between
200 to 225 million years ago. The Chocolate layer is found between Kanab and
Fredonia and the bottom layer of Kaibab limestone forms the rim of the Grand
Canyon and the surface rock underlies most of the Kaibab Plateau.
Vermillion Layer - Kanab
Vermillion Cliffs - These reddish or vermillion colored cliffs are about 165
to 200 million years old and are found along highway 89 near Kanab. They are
made up of deposited silt and desert dunes.
White Layer - Zion Park and Mt. Carmel Jct.
White Cliffs - These are the magnificent white towering Navajo sandstone
cliffs seen in Zion National Park. The White layer is the eroded cliffs in the
Navajo sandstone of Zion Canyon and the White Cliffs found in Mount Carmel
Junction. This white capped thin layer was deposited about 150 million years
ago on top of the temple cap formation during the time when streams moved over
the Navajo Desert and was later covered by great dunes of sand.
Skutumpah Terrace - The Skutumpah Terrace is located between
Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon inside the Grand Staircase-Escalante National
Monument. It's made up of carmel formation limestones.
Gray Layer - Between Zion Park & Bryce
Grey Cliffs - This step is made up of soft Cretaceous shale and sandstone
that was deposited around 130 million years ago. It is as old as the dinosaur
and is seen in Mount Carmel Junction and north of Kanab. These are the middle
areas of the Grand Staircase, along highway 89 between Zion National Park and
Youngest: Pink Layer - Bryce Canyon
Pink Cliffs - This 50 to 60 million year old rock is the exposed claron formation
found in Bryce Canyon, Red Canyon and Cedar Breaks.
Paunsaugunt Plateau - Bryce Canyon is the jagged edge of
the Paunsaugunt Plateau bordered by hwy 12 to the north and hwy 89 to the west.
Paunsaugunt means "home of the beavers" and the name was given by John Wesley
Naming the Grand Staircase-Escalante
The Escalante portion of the name came from Sivestre Velez de Escalante who
was on the Domingues-Escalante expedition to Utah in 1776. The town Escalante
and the Escalante River were also named for this man.