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Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument

Grand Wash. Photo by Kim Crumbo. Wilderness Protection

The Proclamation establishing the 1.2-million acre Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument describes "a vast, biologically diverse, impressive landscape…of open, undeveloped spaces and engaging scenery…located on the edge of one of the most beautiful places on earth, the Grand Canyon." Wilderness designation of all suitable areas would afford the highest level of protection for the Monument's diverse values, described below.

The Arizona Wilderness Coalition proposes a 775,000-acre Grand Canyon-Parashant Wilderness consisting of 23 separate units. Each unit is generally bounded by non-wilderness roads that total approximately 630 miles within the Monument.

Rising in two great stair steps from the austere Mojave Desert, the dramatic Grand Wash Cliffs create the rugged spine of one of our nation's newest national monuments, the Grand Canyon-Parashant. These dramatic escarpments mark the intersection between four distinct biomes—the Sonoran and Mojave deserts and the Great Basin and Colorado Plateau provinces. The resulting diverse ecosystem, ranging from stark, arid desert to lush, high plateaus, creates a unique collage of native species habitats.

Mexican spotted owls. Photo by Steve Howe.

Species Diversity

Wildlife includes numerous threatened or endangered species:

  • Mexican spotted owl
  • California condor
  • desert tortoise
  • southwestern willow flycatcher
  • goshawks
  • spotted, western mastiff, and Townsend's big-eared bats.
  • two federally recognized rare plant species: the sensitive Penstemon distans and Rosa stellata.

"High, dry and lonesome," the Shivwits and Uinkaret Plateaus support grasslands, woodlands, and ponderosa forests, important habitat for a diversity of species including pronghorn antelope, goshawk, tassel-eared squirrels, mule deer, mountain lions, resident and migratory birds, and a splendid diversity of other native wildlife. The southern monument plunges into the untamed grandeur of the Grand Canyon.

Geologic Significance

Deep, intricate canyons, jagged mountains, frozen lava flows and lonely buttes offer incontestable testimony to the earth's unfathomable geologic record. Here relatively undisturbed Paleozoic and Mesozoic sedimentary rock layers, rich in fossils, offer clear glimpses of the region's geologic history.

The Grand Wash Cliffs, presenting approximately 15,000 feet of displacement across the monument, juxtapose the colorful, lava-capped Pre-cambrian and Paleozoic strata of the Grand Canyon against the highly faulted terrain and volcanic peaks of the Mojave Desert. Ancient lavas from the Toroweap and related faults created the Mount Trumbull and Mount Logan peaks, and flowed into the Grand Canyon damming the river many times over during the past several million years.

Archaeological Significance

Irreplaceable rock art, quarries, villages, watchtowers, agricultural features, burial sites, caves, rockshelters, trails, and camps reveal the antiquity of human presence in the Grand Canyon-Parashant. Ancient artifacts demonstrate that a small numbers of hunter-gatherers roamed the region in search of food and shelter during the Archaic Period, 7000 BC to 300 BC. Southern Paiute people replaced the Pueblo groups sometime after 1300 AD. Paiutes were living here at the time of Euro-American contact beginning in 1776 when the Escalante-Dominguez expedition of Spanish explorers passed near Mount Trumbull. Historic structures and ruins scattered across the monument tell the stories of life and hardships of early homesteaders.

-Arizona Wilderness Coalition mission statement