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Vermilion Cliffs National Monument

Vermilion Cliffs The Wave at North Coyote Buttes © Mike Koopsen

A veritable natural treasure of astounding geology, the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument is comprised of 294,000 acres of unspoiled wilderness. Although the majority of the monument lies in Arizona, a portion extends into Utah. Vermilion Cliffs National Monument is comprised of the multi-colored Vermilion Cliffs, Paria Canyon, the Paria Plateau, and Coyote Buttes, but there are many specific noteworthy sites within the terrain that lure travelers from around the world.

The Landscape

Towering rock walls in muted desert colors soar up from the cracked earth in a labyrinthine maze. Narrow canyons twist and turn to reveal natural amphitheatres filled with light from the overhead azure sky. Natural arches of Navajo sandstone face stretches of woodland that seems as pristine as anywhere on earth. The Vermilion cliffs stretch as high as three thousand feet above the natural grandeur of their surroundings. The remoteness of the landscape has helped to protect this magical place from any spoiling.

The area's grassy sections provide a home to pronghorns and bighorn sheep. Travelers will want to keep a look out for the recently introduced California condor which seems to fly above the terrain from a primordial past. Mountain lions and antelope also eek out their lives in the vast wilderness here. Desert plants add sparse color to the backdrop of painted rocks.

Some Suggested Sites in the Monument

Besides the Vermilion cliffs, Paria Plateau is considered a special highlight of the region. Backpackers from around the globe come to traverse the slot canyons and rock formations of majestic Paria Canyon. Depending on the access route, a dependable weather forecast is necessary to avoid flash flooding. The terrain, while a backpacker's dream, can be forbidding and exercising caution is advised.

The Navajo sandstone of the Coyote Buttes reveals great bands of colors in the rocks that range from pink, to yellow, to orange, to red. One of its attractions, the wave, is a swirling section of sandstone rocks that is a great favorite for both hikers and photographers. There is a limit to the number of hikers allowed in Coyote Buttes so a permit is necessary.

Jacob's Pools lie at the foot of the cliffs. A series of springs, they are a great place to hike and enjoy the surrounding views. The springs were once enjoyed by the family of John D. Lee, the founder of Lee's Ferry.

Throughout the monument, travelers may want to keep a look out for signs of ancestral Puebloans. Archaeologists believe that the area is home to some of the oldest rock art in the entire southwest.

Getting There

To the west, the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument borders the Kaibab Forest. To the east, it borders the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Situated in northern Arizona on the Colorado Plateau, various sections of the monument can be accessed from U.S. Highway 89. Permits are required to hike in certain areas such as Paria Canyon. Access points to not have much fanfare or many signs owing to the remote nature of the land the overriding goal to retain this place as a natural treasure trove of geology.

From Flagstaff, travel north on U.S. Highway 89 and then to US 89A. From Kanab, Utah take U.S. Highway 89 to the east or 89A to the south. There are no paved roads within the monument

Vermilion Cliffs Map

Vermilion Cliffs National Monument Map Click map to enlarge

More Information

BLM Arizona Strip Field Office
345 East Riverside Drive
St. George, UT 84790-9000
(435) 688-3200

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