The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument currently encompasses just over 1 million acres, and being so remote, was one of the last areas in this country to be officially mapped by the U.S. government.
Although it was not until the 1800 that Europeans discovered this area, indigenous people have lived here since 500 AD. Traveling through this area, what we felt the most was a sense of history… prehistoric history. You can almost feel the presence of ancient peoples.
Our camp in Kodachrome Basin State Park was actually located in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, so we spent 4 days surrounded by this beauty. We spent our first 2 days in Bryce Canyon NP. On our 3rd day, Kristin and I went hiking in Red Canyon.
Part of our hike in Red Canyon, included a guided interpretive trail. I love hiking while learning interesting facts about the area around you. Did you know that the bark of ponderosa pine trees smell like butterscotch??? We learned that on this hike and next time you see one, smell the bark, they really do smell like butterscotch!
We finally took a “day off” on our 4th day, when Kristin, Ginny and I spent the day at the local coffee shop and then went shopping for mementos (I bought this really cool piece of polished petrified wood and Ginny and Kristin surprised me with a handful of beautiful, colorful polished stones, which they know I love!).
It was then time to head to our next campsite in Green River Utah. We talked with the locals at the coffee shop (as well as the Grand Staircase visitor’s center) and they recommended that we take Hwy 12 to our next destination, which is a designated National Scenic Byway – All American Road.
It is 124 miles of unbelievable beauty. Along the way we stopped at the Anasazi State Park-Museum. The museum was wonderful, but what really hit the spot, especially after 4 days of camp food, was the much welcomed food truck we found in the parking lot.
We had really great food and enjoyed the live music under the much needed shade.
We continued on HWY 12 out of the city of Boulder and over Boulder Mountain.
After the amazing red rock of the last few days, the golden aspens and green pines of the high elevation were beautiful and a nice change of pace.
What I learned about the park:
I didn’t really have any preconceived expectations about this area. The biggest impact and feeling I took away is just the enormity of this national monument and a gratefulness for the conservation of this area. It is too precious to lose this beauty and history.
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is named both for the Escalante River that runs through this area and the series of topographic benches and cliffs that step progressively up in elevation from south to north.
The bottom of the staircase ends at the highest bench of the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
What I learned about myself:
I am grateful to be able to see these beautiful places and spend time really immersed in them like only camping can do. I am most grateful to be enjoying these adventures with great friends, and am very lucky that Kristin is still willing and able to do these camping trips. Thank you Kristin!!! And thanks to Ginny and John for the great company and great time we spent together!
Living in the West helps make these trips a reality for me. It makes these road trips to the parks and other beautiful places in the West much easier and more impactful because I’m driving through the area, not just “arriving” here. For me it deepens the experience.
I am glad to be taking advantage of my time here by visiting these beautiful places. Having said that, even with being surrounded by the amazing beauty of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, simply sitting with my women friends having coffee in the beautiful Utah sunshine was one of the best parts of this trip.
Some thoughts for you:
Enjoy the people around you!
Remember — Get out there!!!
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