GRAND STAIRCASE-ESCALANTE – Created Sept. 18, 1996 by President Clinton in southern Utah. Advertised by the Utah state tourism agency as “phenomenal,” the monument takes its name from a series of plateaus extending over 1.7 million acres that descend like stair-steps from Bryce Canyon in southwestern Utah to the Grand Canyon and are named for their distinctive colors — the Pink Cliffs, Grey Cliffs, White Cliffs, Vermillion Cliffs and Chocolate Cliffs. At 9,000 feet, the Kaiparowits Plateau is the highest, most remote part of the monument. It also contains Utah’s largest coal field. Monument designation stopped a Dutch mining company from its plan to mine what Utah geologists estimated was 62 billion tons of coal.
PHOTOGRAPH BY KEVIN MOLONEY, THE NEW YORK TIMES, REDUX