Thursday, September 5, 2002
A World of Sandstone
Team South drives down from the Kaibab Plateau to House Rock Valley and follow a dirt road north to the trailhead which will lead them into Coyote Bluffs area of BLM's Vermillion Cliffs National Monument. Guided by Becky Hammond from the BLM's St. George Field Office, they will enter a fantsy world of sculpted red and beige sandstone. This is a delicate environment and in order to preserve it, there are restrictions on the number of hikers who can enter on any given day.
This 293,000 acre monument is a geologic treasure, containing the majestic Paria Plateau, the brilliant Vermilion Cliffs, and the Paria River Canyon, and spans elevations from 3,100 to 7,100 feet above sea level. Humans have explored and lived on the plateau and surrounding canyons for thousands of years, since the earliest known hunters and gatherers crossed the area 12,000 or more years ago. The area contains high densities of Ancestral Puebloan sites, including remnants of large and small villages, some with intact standing walls, fieldhouses, trails, granaries, burials, and camps.
Its vegetation is a unique combination of cold desert flora and warm desert grassland, and includes one threatened species, Welsh's milkweed. Twenty species of raptors have been documented in the monument, as well as a variety of reptiles and amphibians. California Condors have been reintroduced into the monument, and Desert bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, mountain lion, and other mammals roam the canyons and plateaus. The Paria River supports sensitive native fish, including the flannelmouth sucker and the speckled dace.