|Grand Staircase - Escalante|
The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument contains 1.9 million acres (7,571 km²) of land in southern Utah, the United States. There are three main regions: the Grand Staircase, the Kaiparowits Plateau, and the Canyons of the Escalante. President Bill Clinton designated the area as a U.S. National Monument in 1996 using his authority under the Antiquities Act.
Humans didn't settle permanently in the area until the late Basketmaker period, somewhere around AD 500. Both the Fremont and ancestral Puebloan people lived here; the Fremont hunting and gathering below the plateau and near the Escalante Valley, and the ancestral Puebloans farming in the canyons. Both groups grew corn, beans, and squash, and built brush-roofed pithouses and took advantage of natural rock shelters. Ruins and rock art can be found throughout the Monument.
The first record of white settlers in the region dates from 1866, when Captain James Andrus led a group of cavalry to the headwaters of the Escalante River. In 1871 Jacob Hamlin of Kanab, on his way to resupply the second John Wesley Powell expedition, mistook the Escalante River for the Dirty Devil River and became the first Anglo to travel the length of the canyon.
In 1879 the San Juan Expedition crossed through the Monument on their way to a proposed Mormon colony in the far southeastern corner of Utah. Traveling on a largely unexplored route, the group eventually arrived at the 1200-foot (400 m) sandstone cliffs that surrounded Glen Canyon. They found the only breach for many miles in the otherwise vertical cliffs, which they named Hole-in-the-Rock. The narrow, steep, and rocky crevice eventually led to a steep sandy slope in the lower section and eventually down to the Colorado River. With winter settling in, the company decided to go forward, down the crevice, rather than retreat. After six weeks of labor, including excavation and the use of explosives to shift rock, they rigged a pulley system to lower their wagons and animals down the resulting road and off the cliff. There they built a ferry, crossed the river and climbed back out through Cottonwood Canyon on the other side.