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Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Release Date: 01/24/13
Contacts: Larry Crutchfield, 435-644-1209    
News Release No. GSENM 130124

Head of the Rocks Overlook Gets Facelift

Escalante, Utah – The Head of the Rocks Overlook is a favorite stop for visitors traveling between Escalante and Boulder, Utah, along Scenic Byway 12, Utah’s Only All-American Road, the most prestigious designation within the National Scenic Byway Program. It is the perfect place for travelers to take in the natural beauty of the region. Sweeping views over the Escalante Canyons region of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM) and beyond to portions of Dixie National Forest, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Capitol Reef National Park, all the way to the Henry Mountains, have kept cameras clicking for decades.

The years, however, had not been kind to the overlook. Storm drainage had created deeply eroded gullies around the edges of the site, traffic flow and parking were disorganized and haphazard, and the site did not meet National accessibility standards.

GSENM, the flagship of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) National Landscape Conservation System, in partnership with the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) and the Scenic Byway 12 Foundation decided it was time to give the overlook a face-lift.

Using decisions from the Scenic Byway 12 Corridor Management and Interpretive Master Plans, and the principles of BLM’s Guidelines for a Quality Built Environment, the BLM planned and designed the project as well as provided construction oversight. The Federal Highways Administration, via UDOT, provided Transportation Enhancement Funds to pay for the $150,000 project.

A local firm, Harward & Rees, from Loa, Utah, won the contract for the construction that began last fall. They built a natural stone-veneered retaining wall with integrated seating and interpretive panels and a universally-accessible viewing platform; delineated parking for passenger and oversize vehicles; performed erosion remediation and constructed control features; and put in a vegetated median to separate the overlook from highway travel lanes. Work was completed in mid-December just before freezing temperatures set in for winter. The last task - planting more than 400 native plants and spreading seed on disturbed areas of the site – was accomplished as snow began to fall.

BLM construction oversight was provided by State Engineer Trent Duncan, District Engineer David Barfuss, and GSENM Landscape Architect Allysia Angus.

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The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. In Fiscal Year 2015, the BLM generated $4.1 billion in receipts from activities occurring on public lands.

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument   669 South Hwy 89A      Kanab, UT 84741  

Last updated: 01-24-2013