The Grand Staircase is a massive geologic phenomenon that defines millions of acres of landscape in southern Utah and northern Arizona. Made up of five defining "layers," the oldest layers of the Grand Staircase are found at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, while the newest layer makes up Bryce Canyon. Starting with the oldest layer first, the stair steps are named for their general color: chocolate, vermillion, white, gray, and pink. As the landscape shifted over the millennia from lakes to sand dunes to rock, the Grand Staircase was formed by tectonic uplift along the Colorado Plateau, which fanned out and exposed the various layers of sediment and rock.
Vermillion CliffsThe Vermillion Cliffs
The Vermillion Cliffs are a rich reddish-brown color, made up of silt and ancient desert sand dunes. This layer makes up the red rock cliffs near Kanab. The Vermillion Cliffs date back between 165 million and 200 million years old.
The White Cliffs also known as the Glendale Bench.The White Cliffs
The massive Navajo sandstone cliffs in Zion National Park are formed by the White Cliff layer of the Grand Staircase. The White Cliffs are estimated to be around 150 million years old, created when the region was made up of lakes and massive sand dunes.
Read more about the upper steps of the Grand Staircase here.