Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument is easily within our top five places that we would recommend visiting in the Southwest. It simply has everything to offer.
From towering arches to sculpted rock formations, this place will dazzle the visitor in every way imaginable. The Henry Mountains, taking their north to south course, sit right next door. The sandstone slot canyons of Escalante radiate beauty and are not for claustrophobic souls.
Anytime you enter the canyon country of the Utah desert be sure to keep your eyes peeled for cryptobiotic soils. These soils are extremely delicate and take a long time to regenerate. They look like black ash melted onto the ground.
If you head to Escalante, be sure to check out Dance Hall Rock, Sooner Rocks, Stevens Arch, and the slot canyons of the Dry Fork of Coyote Gulch. Each is well worth the visit.
Also, the area is full of history. The Mormons charted out the Hole-in-the-Rock Road back in the late 1800s in an effort to expand their political and social influence in the region. Many remnants of their early trials and tribulations can be seen – including the road itself. If you are interested in reading up on the history of the area before or after your travels, pick up Charles Wilkinson’s book, Fire on the Plateau: Conflict and Endurance in the American Southwest.
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