We have been naive. Ruth and I have been to this area several times without exhausting it. Recently, we went to Las Vegas. On this trip we spent 2 nights in Kanab, UT with a plan to see more of Grand Staircase Escalante. It was impossible to see much even though this is the perfect community to stay in to see it.
The biggest problem is that Grand Staircase Escalante is so huge, about 1.9 million acres, and the current cost of gas to see it is so large that we were reduced to a magnificent glance of part of it while based in Kanab. We have been to the Vermillion Cliffs a couple of times, seen the wonderful Pipe Springs National Monument on Escalante’s south edge, been to Page, AZ several times, and seen glimpses of it on previous trips. My all-time favorite road is 12, which is Utah’s first All-American Highway and stretches across Grand Staircase from the town of Loa to Bryce Canyon.
There are 4 visitor centers servicing this vast area. We have been to none of them. Our goal on this trip was to see the Big Water BLM Visitor Center on Highway 89 and the national monument VC in Cannonville. We endeavored to see both but ended up seeing neither. The other 2 are Escalante and the one in Kanab. The one in Kanab was closed for a holiday, so we visited and loved the 2nd VC in this town that was opened on Washington’s Birthday. While there, we talked to a local woman for at least an hour. A former barrel rider, she predicted that the population of her town might safely reach 35,000 eventually. The drive to Cannonville, where there were several personally unvisited attractions on our list, involved at least a trip of 180 miles from Kanab. We decided to see the sights in this town with 2 impressive grocery stores instead where the weather forecast was for snow. The Escalante VC was in a town about 99 miles away. It was a long way on mostly unpaved Cottonwood Road, a dubious, maybe dangerous drive off Highway 89.
We drove as much of Highway 89 going east toward Page, AZ as we could in the morning. It was spectacularly scenic and busy with vehicles. We saw some Grand Staircase Escalante signs and sights and took a few side trips up Johnson Canyon and Seaman Roads but went back to Kanab for the afternoon and evening. Signs and the weather discouraged us from taking the very long Cottonwood Canyon road to Cannonville.
We really enjoyed our visits to the many attractions in Kanab including the Kane County Info Center, Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, the Kanab Heritage House, and its slot canyons, so we have no regrets. Highway 89 was windy with lots of tumbleweed and traffic but also continuous scenery.