Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
is located in the U.S. state
. The 294,000 acre (1,189 km²) monument protects Paria Plateau, Vermilion Cliffs, Coyote Buttes and Paria Canyon. Elevations range from 3,100 to 6,500 feet (944 to 1,981 m).
Creation and designation
Established on November 9, 2000, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument was carved from existing lands already under the management of the U.S. Government
in extreme northern Coconino County
, on the border with the state of Utah
. The monument is administered by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management
, and agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior
. The Vermilion Cliffs themselves run along the southern and eastern edges of the monument. Much of the monument land consists of the Paria Plateau, a flat area extending northward from the tops of the cliffs.
The Vermilion Cliffs are steep eroded escarpments consisting primarily of sandstone, siltstone, limestone and shale which rise as much as 3,000 feet (914 m) above their base. These sedimentary rocks have been deeply eroded for millions of years, exposing hundreds of layers of richly colored rock strata. Mesas, buttes and large tablelands are interspersed with steep canyons where small streams provide enough moisture to support a varied wildlife sampling.
Flora and fauna
More than twenty species of raptors
and Golden eagles
, Peregrine falcon
and numerous species of hawks
have been recorded. The endangered California condor
has been reintroduced into the region recently due to the remote location. Desert bighorn sheep
and Mountain lions
are some of the larger mammals
found with over 30 more species endemic to the region. Several examples of rare fish species such as the flannelmouth sucker and the speckled dace exist in the streams within the monument. The Welsh's milkweed, a threatened
plant species, which grows on sand dunes and helps stabilize them, is known to only exist in the monument and in one other area in the state of Utah.
Human settlement in the region dates back 12,000 years and hundreds of Native American pueblos are spread across the monument lands. The remains of villages with houses, granaries, burials and associated ruins can be found here. The monument also contains some of the largest number rock art sites in any protected area, and many of these petroglyphs are among some of the oldest in the U.S.
The first white explorers into the region were Spanish missionaries and explorers from the 1776 Dominguez-Escalante Expedition. Mormon explorers searched the region in the 1860s, and some settled on land that is now within the monument, building one of the first ferry crossings on the Colorado River in 1871. That same year, John Wesley Powell ventured through the region during his scientific explorations of the Colorado River's plateau.
Today, the region surrounding the monument is relatively unspoiled with virtually no permanent human inhabitants remaining and limited road access.