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Geology of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah

Several miles out from the Utah town of Kanab, all five stair steps of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument can be seen. The Staircase is huge, consisting of almost two-million acres of plateaus, mesas, buttes, slot canyons - all in a primitive setting. The photo shows the layers as seen from US Hghway 89A in Arizona, from the "Le Fevre Overlook" in Kaibab National Forest. The 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. Rock Age is from the Permian - Tertiary (275- 50 mya)

Le Fevre Overlook on Arizona 89 allows a view of all the steps of the Grand Staircase

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 Bryce Canyon.

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 Utah SR-12 to the north and US Highway 89 to the west.

Map: Zion National Park Coral Pink Sand Dunes Map Grand Staircase-Escalante Map Bryce Canyon National Park Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona - North Rim Map Red Canyon, Dixie National Forest, Utah Lodging: Zion National Park Zion National Park Cedar Breks National Monument, Utah Dixie National Forest: Cedar Mountain Zion National Park Map Coral Pink Sand Dunes Map Zion National Park Lodging Cedar Breaks and Dixie National Forest Map Bryce Canyon and Red Canyon Map Grand Staircase-Escalante Map Zion National Park Map Coral Pink Sand Dunes Map Zion National Park Lodging Cedar Breaks and Dixie National Forest Map Grand Staircase-Escalante Map Bryce Canyon National Park Zion National Park Map Coral Pink Sand Dunes Map Zion National Park Lodging Cedar Breaks and Dixie National Forest Map Bryce Canyon and Red Canyon Map Grand Staircase-Escalante Map Zion National Park Map Coral Pink Sand Dunes Map Zion National Park Lodging Cedar Breaks and Dixie National Forest Map Grand Staircase-Escalante Map Bryce Canyon National Park Zion National Park Map Coral Pink Sand Dunes Map Zion National Park Lodging Cedar Breaks and Dixie National Forest Map Bryce Canyon and Red Canyon Map Grand Staircase-Escalante Map Zion National Park Map Coral Pink Sand Dunes Map Zion National Park Lodging Cedar Breaks and Dixie National Forest Map Bryce Canyon and Red Canyon Map Grand Staircase-Escalante Map Zion National Park Map Coral Pink Sand Dunes Map Zion National Park Lodging Cedar Breaks and Dixie National Forest Map Grand Staircase-Escalante Map Bryce Canyon National Park Zion National Park Map Coral Pink Sand Dunes Map Zion National Park Lodging Cedar Breaks and Dixie National Forest Map Bryce Canyon and Red Canyon Map Grand Staircase-Escalante Map Zion National Park Map Coral Pink Sand Dunes Map Zion National Park Lodging Cedar Breaks and Dixie National Forest Map Grand Staircase-Escalante Map Bryce Canyon National Park Zion National Park Map Coral Pink Sand Dunes Map Zion National Park Lodging Cedar Breaks and Dixie National Forest Map Bryce Canyon and Red Canyon Map Grand Staircase-Escalante Map Zion National Park Map Coral Pink Sand Dunes Map Zion National Park Lodging Cedar Breaks and Dixie National Forest Map Bryce Canyon and Red Canyon Map Grand Staircase-Escalante Map Zion National Park Map Coral Pink Sand Dunes Map Zion National Park Lodging Cedar Breaks and Dixie National Forest Map Bryce Canyon and Red Canyon Map Grand Staircase-Escalante Map Zion Book: Favorite Hikes in and around Zion National Park including the GSENMNaming 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. The Staircase is evident from the geology. The steps include the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Cedar Breaks and the lands between.

Paunsaugunt means "home of the beavers" and the name was given by John Wesley Powell.

Clarence Dutton - He was the first to see the entire region of sedimentary rock layers as a staircase. The steps can be seen from just outside Kanab and in the Grand Canyon from Yovimpa Point.

Directions: East Zion to the
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Grand Staircase Map
Grand Staircase Road Map

From 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

Zion National Park Maps
 
Grand Staircase slot canyon is part of the geology

The magnificent slot canyons of the GSENM are part of the geology

 

Lodging Zion National Park
Lodging Zion National ParkLodging and services are available on the gorgeous east side of Zion National Park, where guests are close to Zion National Park (12 miles), Bryce Canyon National Park (60 miles), Cedar Breaks National Monument (45 miles), Coral Pink Sand Dunes (12 miles), and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon (85 miles). It's where city traffic is absent and the skies are bright and clean.

 

Grand Staircase-Escalante Roads - Pristine and remote describes the roadways within the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. Highway 89 defines the southern border and Highway 12 accesses the northern side. In addition to Highways 12 and 89, there are 959 miles of open road in the Grand Staircase. Glendale, Utah, located on Highway 89, northeast of Zion National Park, connects the east side of Zion to Bryce Canyon via the Glendale Bench Road and the scenic backway, Skutumpah Road. To the north, Highway 12 connects Tropic and Boulder, Utah. At the southern end of the monument, roads connect Kanab, Utah and Page, Arizona. The most popular roads in the Grand Staircase are probably Skutumpah Road accessed either by the Glendale Bench Road, near the east entrance to Zion, or the Johnson Canyon Road near Kanab, both leading to Kodachrome Basin near Bryce Canyon. All interior roads except for portions of the Burr Trail and Johnson Canyon Road are unpaved and may be impassible if wet.

Map Grand Staircase National Monument Southern Utah Backways US Highway 89 Cedar Breaks National Monument Dixie National Forest Dixie National Forest Red Canyon: Dixie National Forest Bryce Canyon National Park Willis Creek:  Grand Staircase National Monument Bull Valley Gorge: Grand Staircase National Monument Lick Wash: Grand Staircase National Monument Paria Movie Set: Grand Staircase National Monument Roads in the Grand Staircase National Monument Roads in the Grand Staircase National Monument Mount Carmel Junction, Utah Visitor Centers: Grand Staircase National Monument Zion National Park Map Coral Pink Sand Dunes Map Zion National Park Lodging Cedar Breaks and Dixie National Forest Map Bryce Canyon and Red Canyon Map Grand Staircase-Escalante Map Zion National Park Map Coral Pink Sand Dunes Map Zion National Park Lodging Cedar Breaks and Dixie National Forest Map Grand Staircase-Escalante Map Bryce Canyon National Park Zion National Park Map Coral Pink Sand Dunes Map Zion National Park Lodging Cedar Breaks and Dixie National Forest Map Bryce Canyon and Red Canyon Map Grand Staircase-Escalante Map Zion National Park Map Coral Pink Sand Dunes Map Zion National Park Lodging Cedar Breaks and Dixie National Forest Map Grand Staircase-Escalante Map Bryce Canyon National Park Zion National Park Map Coral Pink Sand Dunes Map Zion National Park Lodging Cedar Breaks and Dixie National Forest Map Bryce Canyon and Red Canyon Map Grand Staircase-Escalante Map Zion National Park Map Coral Pink Sand Dunes Map Zion National Park Lodging Cedar Breaks and Dixie National Forest Map Bryce Canyon and Red Canyon Map Grand Staircase-Escalante Map Zion National Park Map Coral Pink Sand Dunes Map Zion National Park Lodging Cedar Breaks and Dixie National Forest Map Grand Staircase-Escalante Map Bryce Canyon National Park Zion National Park Map Coral Pink Sand Dunes Map Zion National Park Lodging Cedar Breaks and Dixie National Forest Map Bryce Canyon and Red Canyon Map Grand Staircase-Escalante Map Zion National Park Map Coral Pink Sand Dunes Map Zion National Park Lodging Cedar Breaks and Dixie National Forest Map Grand Staircase-Escalante Map Bryce Canyon National Park Zion National Park Map Coral Pink Sand Dunes Map Zion National Park Lodging Cedar Breaks and Dixie National Forest Map Bryce Canyon and Red Canyon Map Grand Staircase-Escalante Map Zion National Park Map Coral Pink Sand Dunes Map Zion National Park Lodging Cedar Breaks and Dixie National Forest Map Bryce Canyon and Red Canyon Map Grand Staircase-Escalante Map Zion National Park Map Coral Pink Sand Dunes Map Zion National Park Lodging Cedar Breaks and Dixie National Forest Map Bryce Canyon and Red Canyon Map Grand Staircase-Escalante Map

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