Cottonwood trees in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah
© Jeff Foott/Minden Picture
A pop of autumn gold. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah
The Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument is an untamed wilderness of cliffs and canyons in the heart of southern Utah. The Grand Staircase is a sequence of five majestic sandstone cliffs, rising approximately 5,500 feet across the expanse of the monument. Each step records a different era in Earth's geological history, a vast showcase of changes over 200 million years. Archaeologists have found prehistoric artifacts, petrified wood, and dinosaur fossils which are over 75 million years old. In human history, the Ancestral Puebloan and Fremont people mastered the art of farming in this challenging terrain. They constructed granaries to store and preserve their harvests. Today, it is a popular getaway for nature enthusiasts and travelers seeking adventure.