Vermilion Cliffs National Monument is one of our newest national monuments, dedicated in the last days of the Clinton administration. This remote and unspoiled area contains phenomenal geological features, rich biological diversity and a multitude of prehistoric and historic sites. The Monument’s centerpiece is the majestic Paria Plateau, a grandly elevated terrace overlooking the canyons of the Colorado River between the Kaibab Plateau and the Echo Cliffs of northwestern Arizona. The Vermilion Cliffs, first named by the renowned explorer John Wesley Powell, form the southern and western edges of the Paria Plateau. This magnificent escarpment rises 3,000 feet above the vast Marble Platform and is composed of multicolored, actively eroding layers of Mesozoic sandstone and shale.
Badger Overlook Endangered Species Walk
Encounter endangered species from the flora and fauna worlds including the tiny, peculiar pediocactus and (with a little luck) the majestic California Condors. Enjoy stories from California Condor Release Project biologists about the program’s successes, setbacks, and plans for the future. Learn about the fragile botanical and biological ecosystem of the area from our botanist.
Wire Pass/Buckskin Canyon
The Utah-Arizona border is noted for its Hidden slot canyons. This is one where flash floods in the past few thousand years have cut a canyon so narrow that supposedly only a “wire” can fit through it. On this moderate hike down Wire Pass to Buckskin Canyon, learn the dynamics of slot canyons and flash floods.
Wind and water sculpted ancient sand dunes into the sweeping, resplendently colorful Navajo Sandstone Coyote Buttes and deep canyons and cathedral-like amphitheaters of Buckskin and Paria Canyons. Explore and compare the intimate connection of wind and water to the landscape from the Jurassic era to today. On moderate to strenuous hikes, learn to “read the rocks” for the ancient and fascinating stories they tell.
Rock Art and Local History
Because humans have explored and lived on the Paria Plateau and surrounding canyons for over 12,000 years, some of the earliest rock art in the Southwest occurs in the Monument. Scott, an expert on rock art (Rock Art of the Southwest) will lead an easy to moderate hike to see a pictograph panel and well-preserved granary at the junction of Buckskin Canyon and Kaibab Gorge and more rock art at the junction of Wirepass and Buckskin Canyon.
In this nighttime program at or near camp, Bryan will explain how the ancient Ancestral Puebloan inhabitants of the region tracked the sun, the moon and the stars and constructed astronomical calendars!
Night skies Astronomy, The Search For The Age Of The Universe, Cosmology
When hiking over ancient rocks by day and sleeping under dark, star-studded skies at night, one naturally wonders just where and how this all began. Consider the nature of the origin of the universe and the life and death of stars. Enjoy star talks pointing out constellations and their notable stars.
Aquatic Biology in the slickrock
Let us introduce you to magical aquatic ecosystems of potholes and the amazing survival techniques of their inhabitants.
Tracking Endangered Species with condor biologists
Students locate Condor wing mount transmitters hidden in House Rock Valley to learn what research biologists do to track the endangered birds. Class begins with the Condor Recovery Field Crew teaching the theory of triangulation and how it works to track the transmitter signal, how to recognize varying signal identifications and proper use of the receiver. The students are then divided into teams and each team is given a receiver and a team-specific signal and they head out into the surrounding area to track, locate and retrieve their "Condor". Once the transmitters are located and retrieved, students and teachers discuss the process, particularly the geometry skills used to locate the transmitter signal and GPS systems, how they work and why they don't work in every situation as well as general mapping skills. An evening slide show on the Condor Project finishes the day.
California Condor Restoration Project
Chris Parish of The Peregrine Fund identified a goal to establish self-sustaining wild populations of California Condors through captive propagation, release, and management with the ultimate goal of removing the species from the Endangered Species List. Their first choice for an experimental population was the vast, rugged, remote landscape of northern Arizona with its sea of air currents for soaring, stupendous cliffs for nesting, and copious food in the form of wild and domestic carrion. The released condors quickly took to that vast country, and by 2003 the population had produced its first wild offspring in the depths of the Grand Canyon. Enjoy stories from Chris Parish, director of the California Condor Restoration Project, about the program’s successes, setbacks, and plans for the future
Cowboy Campfire: Tony Norris
Enjoy Tony’s homespun charm and rich tenor voice as he entertains you with stories and songs of the indigenous cultures of the Southwest. “Tony has a voice that sings like a real live river telling stories wherever it goes — gently like a ripple, or rowdy like a rapid — and always from his generous, forgiving heart.” — Katie Lee, singer, author
Kaibab National Forest/ Marble Overlook
Students experience a new ecosystem in the tall pine forests of the Kaibab Plateau and consider the difficulties of managing national lands in a way to protect the land and its wild inhabitants from the heavy impact of human use. The plateau also offers spectacular vistas, great geology and fossils and it is the northern gateway to the Grand Canyon.
Ponderosa Pine Ecology Through the Eyes of a Goshawk: Richard Reynolds
As a Senior Research Wildlife Biologist for the National Forest Service, Richard has conducted a 16-year study of goshawks on the Kaibab Plateau, Mt. Trumbull and the Parashant. The study identifies the determinants of habitat quality for goshawks by linking the long-term demographic performance (survival, reproduction) of territorial individuals with the habitat characteristics of their territories, with the goal of helping managers design forest landscapes more likely to sustain viable populations of these sensitive species. Over the years, his team’s goshawk habitat management recommendations have been incorporated into all Southwest National Forest Service Plans.