In 1996, President Bill Clinton, under the Antiquities Act, designated the Grand Staircase Escalante as a National Monument. This was probably one of the most politically controversial proclamations in the history of national parks. The ceremony was held in the adjacent state of Arizona. However, the governor of Utah was notified only 24 hours in advance. Many people believed that Clinton’s designation of Grand Staircase Escalante as a national monument was a political ploy to gain votes in Arizona. In fact, it worked. That year, Clinton won Arizona by a 2.2 margin. However, the people of Utah were not pleased. The area around Grand Staircase Escalante had an extensive history of ranching and natural resource extraction. They felt that designating such a vast portion of land was unfair to the ranchers.
Despite its controversy, the Escalante Grand Staircase continues to be a popular Utah attraction. This rugged and remote area of Utah was one of the last places to be placed on the map of the Continental United States.
In the western section of the monument, you will find the area known as the Grand Staircase, Utah. This section is comprised of a series of multi-colored sandstone cliffs that stretch between Bryce Canyon and the Grand Canyon. The Escalante section of the Escalante Grand Staircase refers to the network of canyons within the Escalante River drainage. It was named after one of the early explorers of the area.
The intricate, rugged maze of canyons draws many hikers and bikers to the Escalante Grand Staircase. In fact, Grand Staircase Escalante mountain biking is a popular sport in the region. When explored, primitive Escalante trails will reveal their hidden lakes, secluded canyons, and breathtaking mountain vistas. Large herds of elk and other rarely seen wildlife are frequently encountered on an adventurous Grand Staircase Escalante mountain biking experience. There are a number of very popular Grand Staircase Escalante mountain biking trails, which vary in their degree of difficulty.
Grand Staircase Escalante Mountain Biking at The Water Canyon Loop
This 14-mile loop is characterized by riding surfaces that include hard gravel, packed-sand road with embedded cobbles, and double-track that present the potential for formidable mud holes. Big red hoodoos embellish the scenery. This Grand Staircase Escalante mountain biking excursion has a five mile ascent.
Grand Staircase Escalante Mountain Biking at The Panorama Trail
This is a moderate, two mile out and two mile back trail. The sand surface makes it a good riding trail under wet conditions.