Grand Staircase Utah Geology, Formations

Bryce Canyon National Park
> Grand Staircase National Monument
> Geology


The impressive scale and color of the Grand Staircase geology makes it a spectacular natural phenomenon which draws thousands of visitors each year.

  • Grand Staircase has five escarpments rising in giant steps a total of 5,500 feet
  • Learn about the geology of Grand Staircase at the informative Visitor Centers
  • Oxidized iron and manganese deposits created chocolate, red, white, grey and pink layers of rock
  • Deposit and uplift created this magnificent natural wonder


The Grand Staircase extends eastwards from Bryce Canyon National Park to Capitol Reef Park and the Glen Canyon National Recreational area, a total of 1.9 million acres. It borders the Dixie National Forest on the north side and runs south to the Arizona state line, with an incredible array of colorful plateaus, cliffs, mesas, buttes and slot canyons.

A Geology Lesson

The formation began millions of years ago when sediments of sandstone, mudstone and shale built up. The oxidized iron and manganese deposits created colorful layers of rock from chocolate and red to white, grey and pink. With the gradual uplift of the earth along a natural fault, five south-facing escarpments were formed, rising 5,500 feet like a giant staircase.

Hikes and Attractions

  • Little Death Hollow
    16 miles
    Trailhead in Little Death Hollow south of Wolverine Petrified Wood Natural Area
    Awesome slot canyon
  • Calf Creek Falls
    5.5 miles
    Calf Creek Recreation Area
    Pass ponds and rock art to multicolored cliffs and waterfall

Learn More

The Visitor Centers have information on the formations and geology of the area as well as maps and hikes to suggested places to see the natural highlights of Grand Staircase geology.