Vermilion Cliffs National Monument is located in the U.S. state of Arizona. The 294,000 acre (1,189 km²) monument protects Paria Plateau, Vermilion Cliffs, Coyote Buttes and Paria Canyon. Elevations range from 3,100 to 6,500 feet (944 to 1,981 m).
The Vermilion Cliffs are steep eroded escarpments consisting primarily of sandstone, siltstone, limestone and shale which rise as much as 3,000 feet (914 m) above their base. These sedimentary rocks have been deeply eroded for millions of years, exposing hundreds of layers of richly colored rock strata. Mesas, buttes and large tablelands are interspersed with steep canyons where small streams provide enough moisture to support a varied wildlife sampling.
Human settlement in the region dates back 12,000 years and hundreds of Native American pueblos are spread across the monument lands. The remains of villages with houses, granaries, burials and associated ruins can be found here. The monument also contains some of the largest number rock art sites in any protected area, and many of these petroglyphs are among some of the oldest in the U.S.
The first white explorers into the region were Spanish missionaries and explorers from the 1776 Dominguez-Escalante Expedition. Mormon explorers searched the region in the 1860s, and some settled on land that is now within the monument, building one of the first ferry crossings on the Colorado River in 1871. That same year, John Wesley Powell ventured through the region during his scientific explorations of the Colorado River’s plateau.
Today, the region surrounding the monument is relatively unspoiled with virtually no permanent human inhabitants remaining and limited road access.