An elemental expanse: Grand Staircase Escalante

Ribbons of color at Grand Staircase-Escalante

Ribbons of color at Grand Staircase-Escalante

If you’re thinking Grand Staircase-Escalante is just another Out West pass-through, pretty place, think again.  With over 1.9 million acres of vast wilderness, Grand Staircase-Escalante amazes you with its grandeur, formations, and ribbons of color unlike any you see at other national parks.

The colorful , yet rugged expanse known as Grand Staircase-Escalante.

Looking down on the highway that cuts through this vast expanse known as Grand Staircase-Escalante.

Since the Escalante River area was one of the last in America to be explored and mapped, it wasn’t until 1996 during President Bill Clinton’s administration that Grand Staircase Escalante was named a National Monument.  But oh, is it ever deserving!

Much of the area known as Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is still unexplored.

Much of the area known as Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is still unexplored.

Over sixty million years ago when Utah was covered by lakes, the sediment from those lakes hardened into rock.  The “staircase” was formed when the Colorado plateau lifted, and the layers of deposits extended, developing the fans and ribbons we see today.

Standing at a jut-out along Utah Scenic Highway 12, you can see the ribbons of color and enormity of the area.

Standing at a jut-out along Utah Scenic Highway 12, you can see the ribbons of color and enormity of the area.

If you follow the route we took from Capitol Reef along Utah 12, make time in your schedule to stop in Boulder at Hell’s Backbone Grill and Farm “where (they say) the food is heavenly.”  (And it really is.) The two owners Blake Spalding (river chef, caterer, and practicing Buddhist) and Jennifer Castle (feeder of trail crews and recipe writer) invite you to indulge in their regionally based cuisine that has them winning awards like Best Restaurant Utah 2017 and James Beard Foundation Award Finalist.  We won’t soon forget Duck, Duck Goose Quesadilla and Posole Stew, but any of their organically grown, carefully crafted entrees will find you loving Blake and Jen’s elemental style, their blended Southwestern, Pueblo, Western Range flavors, and their business based upon Buddhist principles.  (Lunch ends at 2:30, so pace yourself and reserve ahead!)

Hell's Backbone Grill in Boulder, Utah

Hell’s Backbone Grill in Boulder, Utah

When you get back on the road, have your binoculars and camera ready.  You don’t want to miss the vistas:  great, huge, imposing sky and colors of the Southwest.

Dark clouds in the distance at Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Dark clouds in the distance at Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

And if you’re there in the fall, look for evidence of turning leaves and contrasting colors of shrubbery dotting the landscape.

Yellow shrubbery finds space to live in a ravine along Utah Scenic Highway 12.

Yellow shrubbery finds space to live in a ravine along Utah Scenic Highway 12.

It’s all elemental.  Expansive. And quite glorious. It’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

For more information:

Visit Southern Utah:  http://www.visitsouthernutah.com/Grand-Staircase-National-Monument

Grand Staircase Escalante: https://www.visitutah.com/places-to-go/most-visited-parks/

To see all our posts on the national parks in Utah, click on We Saw Utah in the Travel Series menu at the top.

Posted on https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/elemental

About Oh, the Places We See

Met at University of Tennessee, been married for 47 years, and still passionate about travel whether we're volunteering with Habitat Global Village, combining work at Discovery with pleasure, or just seeing the world. Hope you'll join us as we try to see it all while we can!
This entry was posted in Travel, Utah, We Saw Utah! and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to An elemental expanse: Grand Staircase Escalante

  1. quarksire says:

    awesome spot on da’ planet! indeeD! … 🙂

  2. Such a combination of dramatic and as well subtle landscape. The color hue of pastels and earth tones is quite beautiful. How very fitting that both Clinton and Obama took bold steps to protect America’s wilderness while the current president is taking action to facilitate the oil and gas industries desire to hack through protected lands for short term profits.
    Beautiful photographs!
    Ben & Peta

  3. Woolly Muses says:

    Certainly worthy of National Monument status. Love the first shot.

    • Thanks for your kind words. I agree that it’s worthy of National Monument status. I don’t know how many hikers and explorers go through here annually, but it is one of the last true wilderness areas that have national status, I suppose. It’s definitely worth seeing.

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  5. dawnkinster says:

    Love that ‘dark clouds in the distance’ shot!

  6. Jodi says:

    Wow! Majestically beautiful!

    • You said it, Jodi! This is one awesome place — so vast and interesting. Since we’re not hikers, we weren’t tempted to go below the highway to check out flora and fauna up close. No telling what trouble we could get into sliding down a ravine or looking at a creature eye to eye. But from a distance — a safe distance — this place is drop dead gorgeous!

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  8. Awesome! Thank you for the food recommendation too! We missed it when we were there in May, but there’s always another time.

    • Thanks for mentioning Hell’s Backbone Grill! What a place! Awesome food and quaint surroundings. If you go to the website, you’ll see they’re looking for volunteers in the garden. Couldn’t be an all bad gig, if you ask me! Great surroundings!

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