It has even the status of a National Monument (exactly: Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument) and comprises a large area in southern Utah where the erosion weathered down the Colorado Plateau (basically an ancient seabed that was uplifted by colliding tectonic plates some 100 million years ago) from about 9,000 ft (2.700 m) to 3,500 ft (1.050 m). Due to the sedimentary nature of the rock formations, the erosion – mainly caused by run-off waters from the Plateau – resulted in huge steps and not in smooth slopes.
The Vermilion Cliffs (in the background) mark the last step at the southern end of the Grand Staircase. The cliff in the front of the picture is the edge of the Colorado canyon, about 10 mi downstream of the Lake Powell dam. Although outside of the National Monument, the Vermilion Cliffs geologically are part of the Grand Staircase.
|The Colorado marks the south end of the Grand Staircase|
The Grand Staircase has much more to show than just the red sandstone above. Each sediment layer has different colors and erosion resistance, resulting in a wonderful diversity of shapes and colors.
|Cottonwood Canyon, accessible only by 4-WD vehicles|
Isn’t that awesome? Benjamin did not want to believe that these “sculptures” were not man-made!
|Grosvenor Arch in Cottonwood Canyon|
We stayed for three days in a campground in the Kodachrome Basin State Park that is part of the National Monument. Although it just offers dry camping, we unanimously voted our campsite and the whole campgound the most beautiful one of our whole trip.
|Kodachrome Basin Campground|
|View from our campsite|