The Colorado Plateau

Arizona is divided into three distinct

geographic provinces the Colorado

Plateau the transition zone and the

Basin and Range characterized by mesas

the Colorado Plateau is a region of high

elevation that slices through Arizona

Northwest to southeast forming its

northeastern border and extends into

Utah New Mexico and Colorado

geologically the Colorado Plateau is

composed of many layers of mostly flat

lined sedimentary rocks these layers

largely consist of limestone and

sandstone sequences indicative of

transgressing and regressive shallow

seas after more than 300 million years

of deposition from these shallow seas

the Laramide orogeny uplifted a large

area of continental crust giving the

plateau its high elevation these

sedimentary layers are beautifully shown

in the Grand Canyon and the mesas of

Monument Valley much later these

sedimentary layers were overlaying with

relatively young volcanic activity the

most prestigious of these volcanic

fields is the San Francisco volcanic

field near Flagstaff Arizona the

Colorado Plateau is host to a variety of

landscapes in the colorful Badlands of

the Painted Desert Petrified Forest

National Park is an amazing collection

of 200 million year old petrified wood

the geologically young volcanic fields

just north of Flagstaff are remnants of

a more violent time in Arizona's history

just east of there meteor crater boasts

one of the most pristine impact craters

the sandstone buttes of Monument Valley

create an iconic landscape shaped by

erosion of course the most famous

feature of the Colorado Plateau is the


the climate of the Colorado Plateau

varies greatly due to extreme changes in

elevation however temperatures are much

cooler than the low deserts of the Basin

and Range province aside from the

monsoons of late summer and early autumn

the Colorado Plateau is an extremely

arid regions receiving less than ten

inches of precipitation annually in the

mid to lower elevations a large majority

of the region is dominated by grassland

and sagebrush most of the forests of the

Colorado Plateau reside in the higher

elevations near Flagstaff typical flora

of these forests are the ponderosa pine

and Douglas fir the pinyon pine juniper

trees and a variety of cacti adopt the

landscape of the mid to lower elevations

the sedimentary layers of the Colorado


are dotted with coal uranium and other

hardrock mineral deposits copper and

gold were some of the first minerals to

be mined extensively on the plateau

while the development of nuclear weapons

increase the level of uranium

prospecting and mining throughout the

region today the Navajo power plant near

Paige features 3 750 megawatts steam

electric generating units water remains

the most vital resource of the southwest

and the Colorado River is arguably the

most important water resource in Arizona

in an effort to control this resource

dams such as the Glen Canyon Dam and the

Hoover Dam were constructed on the

Colorado River in order to control

floods provide irrigation water and

produce hydroelectric power the

combination of a ridged geologic history

inspiring landscapes and important water

and energy resources make the Colorado


really special place in the American