Navajo National Monument
Arizona, United States
Navajo National Monument Reviews
The Twin Plateaus of Arizona Sep 02, 2010
The topography of Arizona when considered in terms of geology is perhaps one of the most interesting in the world. In the State of Arizona, twenty miles west of Kayenta on the Navajo reservation lies an imposing highland. It is diagonal to the transit highway 160 across northeastern Arizona. The flat topped plateau was carved in half allowing for passage through what would otherwise be nature's most challenging barriers. The northern half of the plateau is called Shonto while the other half (southern) is known as Black Mesa.
On a recent road trip to Utah, my family and I, managed to drive through the split halves of this plateau and experiences it's might first hand. At about 8,00 feet, both plateaus present the geologist with plenty to study: fro scrubby grasslands to pine clad crests.
The Navajo Indian Reservation as many may know is cultural lands and one needs permission to get on the reservation. However when driving on the highway, one only has to peer through the car windows, to see the vast landscape and enjoy the beauty of the twin plateaus. The Navajo National Monument is a place of cultural significance and immense beauty. The centerpiece is at the heart of the Betatakin cliff dwellings which look outstanding from the top. With the sun high across the plateau, it was hard not to indulge in nature's provisions. Betatakin happens to be the the ancestral home of the Pueblo Native Americans. It is said the Pueblo Indians abandoned the region before the birth of Christ for reasons no one knows.
The reason for the formation of these giant plateaus is that heavy rains falling on the Shonto Plateau lands on the Navajo sandstone with high permeability. The sandstone then soaks up the moisture causing gravity to pull the moisture down. The moisture then goes through the Kayenta formations. Well to be honest, the process is elaborate and takes years. I'm not fond of geology, but I felt compelled to find out more about the formations of plateaus. Coming from African, I know we have plateaus and rift valleys. But they are nothing like the twin plateaus here on the Navajo reservation.
While Mark drove, concentrating mainly on the road, I took photographs of the plateaus and the reservation. This was on the return leg of our journey and the sun was just rising. The sun hitting the tips of the plateaus was perhaps the best sunrise I have seen in many years. One such sunshine I was in 1996 in my birth country of Uganda when we were driving from Queen Elizabeth National Park back to Kampala. Words are not enough to describe the beauty of it. I shall let the photos do the talking.
Now, there is no fee for driving along highway 89, no toll stations. All you have to do, is plan a destination in northeastern Arizona or Southern Utah, and your journey will take you through the Navajo reservation where you will see the twin plateaus. Well worth seeing, but nothing you want to plan a special trip for unless you are a geologist.
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