Single-image Sunday: Vermilion Cliffs   2 comments

The Vermilion Cliffs, which straddle the Utah-Arizona border, are part of the Grand Staircase.  This is a huge feature on the Colorado Plateau, a series of long, east-west trending cliff bands separated by plateaus.  The “staircase” steps down to the south, ending on a very large step – the Grand Canyon.

Much of the Grand Staircase is covered by a National Monument of the same name.  This means it is largely protected.  Not as much protection as a national park, but off-limits to activities like oil drilling and mining.  Cattle ranching still takes place.

By the way I did a 4-part series on the Grand Staircase last year.  Check out Part I (overview), Part II (geology), Part III (travel tips), and Part IV (highlights, including tips for slot canyon hiking).

The Grand Staircase occupies geographic center of some of the American southwest’s most beautiful and famous scenery.  For example, the topmost step is made up of the Pink Cliffs.  These form the colorful rocks of Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah.  Zion National Park is on the west side of the Staircase and Capital Reef National Park is on the east.  Lake Powell toward the SE occupies Glen Canyon.  As the Vermilion Cliffs drop down toward Page, Arizona, the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs National Monument covers a fairyland of strange rock formations and slot canyons.

The picture below captures a scene found along the western end of the Vermilion Cliffs, well away from the more popular parks.  The snow-covered pasture in the foreground is part of the ranch land surrounding Colorado City, Arizona.  The temperature was quickly dropping as the sun went down here. It was clear and cold!

Colorado City is one of America’s last havens for polygamy (multiple wives).  Many hard-core Mormons live here in the so-called Arizona Strip (the land between Grand Canyon and the Utah border).  It’s a quiet community.  They like to be left alone with their lovely view of the Vermilion Cliffs.

The Vermilion Cliffs near Colorado City, Arizona take on a russet color at sunset.

The Vermilion Cliffs near Colorado City, Arizona take on a russet color at sunset.

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2 responses to “Single-image Sunday: Vermilion Cliffs

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  1. absolutely gorgeous.

  2. That snow adds a nice touch to a great photo.

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