Why was Vermilion Cliffs National Monument Formed
Vermilion Cliffs National Monument was formed on November 9th 2000 to protect it outstanding scenic beauty, unique geology, and human history. The Paria Canyon - Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness which was designated in 1984 also became part of the National Monument.
Where is Vermilion Cliffs National Monument Located
Vermilion Cliffs National Monument spans from the western rim of Marble Canyon to the boundary of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in Southern Utah. Visitors traveling to the North or South Rim of the Grand Canyon will traverse the southern boundary of the monument when they drive along highway 89A, which actually borders the Paria Canyon Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness section of the Monument. The Northern boundaries of Vermilion Cliffs can be accessed via highway 89 in between Lake Powell and Kanab Utah.
How do you get to Vermilion Cliffs
Driving to Vermilion Cliffs- Highway 89A in Northern AZ and Highway 89 in Southern Utah traverse the Northern and Southern boundaries of Vermilion Cliffs National Monument. Page, AZ and Kanbab, UT are the two major towns along these highways.
Vermilion Cliffs Airports- There is a small private runway at Marble Canyon that is open to the public and a municipal airport in Kanab, UT both of which are very close to the monument if you have your own plane. Page, AZ has a small airport with commercial flights from Denver and Phoenix and is about an hour from the northern or southern entry points to the Monument. Las Vegas is the closest international Airport at about 3.5 hours.
Vermilion Cliffs Car Rentals- There are car rental at the airport in Page, AZ but your best bet is to grab a vehicle in Las Vegas or whatever major airport you fly into.
Vermilion Cliffs Shuttles- There are several different shuttle companies that hikers use for trips in the Monument especially for trip through Paria Canyon. To get to Vermilion Cliffs there are also shuttle services but they are pricey and it is a good idea to have your own vehicle to really explore this area.
Vermilion Cliffs Fees and Other Costs
There is no entry fee for the Monument, but if you are going to hike to Coyote Buttes \The Wave, or do a backpack through Paria Canyon you will need to apply for and purchase a permit.
Vermilion Cliffs Weather and Climate
Vermilion Cliffs is an arid environment that varies in elevation from 3100 to 7300 feet. Near Marble Canyon along the base of Vermilion Cliffs are the lowest elevations where you’ll find the hottest temperature, especially in the summer. Near the upper reaches of the monument summer is still quite warm, and monsoon rains fall throughout Vermilion Cliffs from July through August. Like most areas along the Colorado Plateau spring and fall have the best weather especially for hiking. The winter can bring snow-fall and freezing temperature above 4,000 feet, as well as heavy winds.
When to Visit Vermilion Cliffs
If you don’t count the traffic along highway 89, Vermilion Cliffs has very few visitors. Hiking Coyote Buttes and the Wave, as well as backpacking Paria Canyon are by far the most popular activities and receive the most visitation. The time to hike this area is late spring and fall, unless you can’t get a permit for Coyote Buttes or Paria Canyon than you may want to try the fringe seasons in early March and Late November. The summer also sees high visitation, but it is quite toasty if you plan on doing any real hikes.
Vermilion Cliffs Environment
Vermilion Cliffs National Monument is 294,000 acres of rugged wilderness and scenic beauty. The unique geology of the area has created amazing features like the Wave in North Coyote Buttes, the Paria River Canyon and the 3,000-foot Vermilion Cliffs the produce a beautiful vermilion hue from their Navajo Sandstone face. This is a land of domes and fins, slot canyons, towering cliffs, and solitude.
Vermilion Cliffs Flora and Fauna
Vermilion Cliffs National Monument has a wide variety of plant species sagebrush to pinyon-juniper and ponderosa pine forests. The riparian plant communities, like those found in Paria Canyon contain cattail, willow, cottonwoods and other water loving plants, as well as amphibians and aquatic birds like the blue heron. Throughout Vermilion Cliffs National Monument you canyon find more common desert dwellers like coyotes, chuckwallas and even the occasional mountain lion.
Vermilion Cliffs Accommodations
There are several places along the border of Vermilion Cliffs National Monument with accommodation options. Along the Southern boundary where the Paria River flows into the Colorado River is Marble Canyon. There are 3 hotels in Marble Canyon, as well as a campground at Lee’s Ferry. This area has many places to camp without services or fess. Near the North End of the Monument is Kanab Utah, which has quite a few hotels, RV parks and a hostel. There are also a few campgrounds in and outside of town, including Whitehouse Campground. This area is in between Page and Kanab off highway 89 and is where you’ll find the Wire Pass and White House trailheads, for Coyote Buttes and The Wave, as well as Paria Canyon. The Paria Outpost is the only lodging option in this area and offers a restaurant, shuttles, and bed & breakfast style accommodations. At large camping is the free option for people who want to get away from the crowds.
Vermilion Cliffs Activities
The most popular activity in Vermilion Cliffs National Monument is hiking and Backpacking. Day hikes to North Coyote Buttes and the Wave are extremely popular and permits are required in advance. A backpacking trip through the Paria Canyon/Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, which also requires a permit, is another world-class hike in Vermilion Cliffs. You can also enjoy a scenic drive along the base of Vermilion Cliffs, or some off the grid camping along one of many back roads in the monument.
Vermilion Cliffs Food and Drink
The small lodges at Marble Canyon have some great food, and there is a small store at the gas station. Kanab has a number of restaurants, coffee shops, and a grocery store where you can get any supplies you need. The Paria Outpost near the trailheads for the Wave and Paria Canyon also has a restaurant.
Vermilion Cliffs Health, Safety and Hazards
This environment has the typical issues you’ll need to deal with in a desert landscape. During the summer season the sun is intense and temperatures can reach 100 degrees. Staying hydrated and wearing some sunblock is always a good idea to avoid more serious problems. Hikers who are backpacking through Paria Canyon, or exploring other slot canyons can to be aware of weather condition, especially in the monsoon season as these canyons can and do have flash floods.
Vermilion Cliffs Culture and History
One of the major areas of settlement in Vermilion Cliffs was the Paria River and Paria Canyon. The earliest human inhabitants came to this area nearly 10,000 years ago, and other inhabitants included Ancestral Puebloans farmers and the Paiute Indians. Near the Paria Contact Station was the historic settlement of Pahreah along the Paria River, which is a ghost town today. In 1871 Mormon pioneer John D. Lee traveled from the town of Pahreah through the Paria Canyon to the Colorado River and built Lee’s Ferry, the only way to get across the Colorado in this area. Miners, Ranchers and modern day explorers have all traversed this rugged and beautiful landscape.