colorado plateau

Red Cliffs National Conservation Area in Utah protects a unique transition zone – the meeting of the Colorado Plateau, Great Basin Desert and Mojave Desert. Where these distinct landscapes overlap, unusual plants and animals have evolved, including flowers like the dwarf bearclaw poppy and Shivwits milk-vetch that grow nowhere else on earth. Explore the area’s flora, wildlife and spectacular desert scenery with more than 130 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails. Photo by Bob Wick @mypubliclands

Monument Valley is a region of the Colorado Plateau characterized by a cluster of vast sandstone buttes, the largest reaching 1,000 ft (300 m) above the valley floor. It is located on the Arizona-Utah state line.

Monument Valley has been featured in many forms of media since the 1930s. Director John Ford used the location for a number of his best-known films, and thus, in the words of critic Keith Phipps, “its five square miles have defined what decades of moviegoers think of when they imagine the American West.”

Soon, I’ll be headed south towards the Colorado Plateau. The desert was not always my cup of tea, but after spending time in the backcountry of Escalante I came out with a great respect for all life dwelling there. At first glance, it was hard to believe anything could survive in those elements let alone flourish. How wrong I was. Life in the desert is tough, plants and animals have no room for negligence, but they are savvy, resourceful and above all have learned to adapt no matter how harsh the setting. This will be my second trip to Grand Staircase, and it’s still most certainly a terrain I’m not accustomed to, but the eagerness to be back in this unfamiliar land is addicting. I know full well that I have much more to learn. 5 days till I hit the road…🚙💨