Grand Staircase Escalante
Climate - Maps
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument extends from the town of Boulder in south-central Utah, along the foothills of the Boulder Mountains, 60 miles to the Arizona border and the town of Big Water on U.S. 89. At its widest point, it is nearly 90 miles from Capitol Reef on the northeast boundary to Johnson Canyon near Kanab on the southwest edge.
The Monument encompasses the Grand Staircase in its western portion, the Kaiparowits Plateau in the eastern ,with the Canyons of the Escalante sandwiched between. Much of the Escalante River and many of its side canyons are already within the Glen Canyon NRA, so virtually the entire stream is now set aside.There are about 2,656 square miles in the Monument, equivalent to a square 52 miles long by 52 miles wide.
The monument is 900,000 acres larger than the total acreage of Utah's five existing national parks. It contains more land than all of the national parks in Utah, Colorado, Nevada and Wyoming (except Yellowstone) combined. The monument abuts the Glen Canyon National Recreation area (1,236,880 acres) on the east and south, and Capitol Reef National Park (241,904 acres) on the northeast and Bryce Canyon National Park (35,835 acres) along the western edge.
The climate in Grand Staircase-Escalante is temperate and arid, with annual precipitation averaging about 10 inches. From June through early September thunderstorms advance from the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Mexico and southern California. Frontal-type storms out of the northwest move through the area from October through June.
The highest amount of precipitation occurs from November through March. Summer temperatures vary approximately 30 degrees F., with highs in the mid to upper 90s and lows in the mid 60s. Winters in Escalante have a temperature range of about 26 degrees F., with highs in the low 40s and lows of about 15 degrees F. Snowfall in the Monument generally averages 28 inches, beginning in October or November and ending in March or April.
The best time to visit the Monument is late March through June and early September through October. Weather conditions and water temperatures are generally most favorable during this period. It is impossible to predict weather conditions in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument area very far in advance.
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is located in southern Utah, approximately 290 highway miles south of Salt Lake City or 250 miles east of Las Vegas. Two paved roads provide access to the Monument: Highway 89 on the south and Highway 12 on the north. The Monument is REMOTE, and nearly all of its north to south roads are PRIMITIVE. Acquire good information before venturing into the Monument's interior, including a good road map that is readable and understandable. Think of time and level of difficulty, not just miles. Choose roads and trails that match your vehicle, driving skills and experience. ALWAYS bring plenty of water, and make sure that your vehicle is in good working condition and adequately supplied for emergencies.
Scenic Utah Highway 12 in the northern portion of the Monument travels east from Bryce Canyon National Park, which itself is 51 miles east of Interstate 15 at exit 95, via routes Utah 20 and U.S. 89. Escalante is 106 miles south of Interstate 70 Fremont Junction exit via Utah 72, for those traveling from the east.
U.S. Highway 89, in the southern portion between Kanab, Utah and Page, Arizona offers spectacular vistas of the Vermilion Cliffs layer of the Grand Staircase geologic feature. Kanab is 77 miles east of the Cedar City exit of I-15 via routes Utah 9 through Zion National Park and U.S. 89.
Other roads that are partially surfaced include:
- Burr Trail (to Capitol Reef National Park)
- Johnson Canyon (to the Skutumpah turn off)
There is no public transportation into the Monument. Nearby locations include:
Commercial air service is available to Cedar City, Utah and Bryce Canyon National Park
Commercial bus service is available to Cedar City, Utah
Commercial train service is available to Cedar City, Utah
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