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Public Lands. A ride through Grand Staircase-Escalante

Words & Pictures by @brodyleven

snek cycling cap grand staircase escalante

When I told the dude at the bike shop my plan to ride around Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, he said, “Well, that’s gonna be a lot easier than it used to be," a not-so-subtle jab at Trump’s terrible decision to shrink America’s largest National Monument by 47%. Parts of it are remote. As in, the last-mapped region of the lower 48. But it’s an area of Southern Utah that, even in the last few months, my friends and I have fought to learn about and protect.


snek cycling cap grand staircase escalante


I believe that future generations should benefit from the same sense of discovery that has shaped my life. And eliminating these opportunities is a short-sighted and selfish effort made by politicians, against the health of the general populace. 
So when @anthmcollective offered a last-minute and off-the-cuff invitation to bike pack around part of this wild landscape, I actually accepted. 


snek cycling cap grand staircase escalante


Given I’d leave home during SLC’s best snowstorm of the season, I hesitated. But knowing that this protected environment may soon be auctioned, leased, or “developed” in the name of “progress” made it an easy decision. 


snek cycling cap grand staircase escalante


See that cyclist in the road? What if he was an oil truck. That road? What if it was train tracks carrying coal. What if the protected landscapes that we take for granted lost their protection, opening them to the exploitation of money-hungry corporations with no concern for wilderness, wildlife, open spaces, or the sense of discovery. What if folks who had never considered visiting these places were auctioning them off to the highest bidder, convincing the population that the oil drilling or coal mine or development was an economic stimulus, creating a hundred jobs, or a thousand. Would it be worth it? 


@anthmcollective and I saw four cars in the first 130 miles/2.5 days of bike packing. My first aid and survival training was constantly going through my head. We made wrong turns, became worried about food and water and battery life, and got exactly what we were looking for. 



What if these opportunities start to be taken away from us, one by one? If money-hungry politicians and short-sighted voters favored corporations over nature, money over one another.

Well this isn’t a What-If; it’s reality. It isn’t something that might happen; it’s happening. It isn’t something you’re helpless against; you can help. 


snek cycling grand staircase escalante

Brian claimed this was one of the best rides of his life. I’m confident its wildness and openness offered this experience. Condos, coal-rolling pickup trucks, casinos, or oil rigs would have ruined it. But this is just our experience. You can’t be expected to care if you don’t have your own.

To learn more about Utah's public lands and it's threats visit: