Grand Canyon-Parashant
National Monument
Park Photo
NPS photo

Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument is a scientific treasure. Its deep canyons, mountains, and lonely buttes testify to the power of geological forces and provide colorful vistas. Paleozoic and Mesozoic sedimentary rock layers—relatively undeformed and unobscured by vegetation—offer a clear view for understanding the Colorado Plateau's geologic history. Geologic, geographic, and biological transitions give rise to the monument's astonishing ecological diversity. Here two geologic provinces meet, the Basin and Range and the Colorado Plateau. Here also two ecoregions meet, the Mojave Desert and Colorado Plateau. Within these ecoregions three floristic provinces converge—Mojave Desert, Great Basin, and Colorado Plateau—creating diverse assemblages of plant and animal communities. Geologic variations coupled with elevation changes, ranging from 1,400 feet above sea level near Grand Wash Bay to over 8,000 feet on Mt. Trumbull, result in a variety of desert, shrubland, and montane habitats. Cooler conditions found in higher-elevation ponderosa pine forests provide habitat for wild turkeys, northern goshawks, and Kaibab squirrels. Middle elevations feature pinyon-juniper forests and sagebrush that support pinyon jays, Great Basin rattlesnakes, and mule deer. Low-elevation Mojave Desert features creosote bush, Joshua trees, Gila monsters, Gambel's quail, and desert bighorn sheep. Rare springs with life-giving water are hotspots hosting distinctive plant and animal life.

It is hard to imagine how people survived in this harsh land, but the evidence of tenancy testifies to human perseverance. Occupation began 12,000 years ago with large-animal hunters followed by hunter/gatherers. About 3,000 years ago the introduction from Mexico of corn and, later, squash and beans allowed the people to settle into small villages. Each group left clues like pecked and painted rock images, home sites, tools, and quarries that give us some insight into their lives. Southern Paiutes living in this area at the time of Euro-American contact in 1776 still live in the Colorado Plateau region. Remnants of early homesteads punctuate the landscape, expanding its rich human history, a vital dimension of the area's character.


The Mojave, driest of all North American deserts, gets fewer than 10 inches of rain a year. Snaking across this arid landscape, scoured desert washes carry the runoff after monsoon rains. Desert tortoises actively forage after these refreshing storms. Deep-rooted plants grow along the edges and on islands in the washes, providing black-tailed jackrabbits with shady hiding places.

Joshua trees are characteristic Mojave Desert plants that grow up to 40 feet tall. Haphazard, prickly branches give many animals shelter, a food source, or nesting materials. As many as 25 bird species nest in Joshua trees: Scott's orioles hang nests from branches; other birds build nests in foliage; and northern flickers peck nest holes in the trunks. Toppled trunks house insects that provide a food source initiating a complex food web.

This community's spiny, succulent plants denote desert to most people. In rainy periods barrel cacti store water in their vault-like bodies, safe under myriad spines. Surviving long periods of no rain, they live up to 130 years. Rock-dwelling chuckwalla lizards also use their bodies as canteens—and as larders—during wet periods. They can also wedge themselves into rocks and puff up so much that predators can't pull them out.

Typical Great Basin communities are sagebrush steppe—a semi-arid plain—and pinyon-juniper woodland that cover much of the national monument. You will drive for miles through this multi-hued landscape of sagebrush, shrubs, and short grasses. Big sagebrush is most common, but there are several other species, too. The adaptable coyote hunts rabbits and other small animals that hide in the shrubs.

Pinyon pines and junipers grow on mountainsides and plateaus above the steppe. Although junipers can live 300 to 400 years, they only grow 20 or 30 feet tall. Slow-growing pinyon pines germinate beneath a nurse plant and when mature produce nutritious seeds that were once a vital food source for native people. Birds and rodents like these tasty pine-nut seeds and help to plant new trees when they cache them in the ground for winter food.

Cooler, higher, and with more rain, the Colorado Plateau ecoregion supports ponderosa pines with associated Gambel oak, New Mexican locust, and serviceberry—home to turkeys, Kaibab squirrels, mule deer, and goshawks. Ponderosa pines live to 600 years and can grow over 90 feet tall. Their orange-brown bark smells like vanilla. Periodic burning is essential to maintaining the health and vigor of ponderosa pine forests.

The 1776 Escalante-Dominquez expedition found Southern Paiutes gardening, hunting, and gathering. In rabbit skin robes, this circle dance ceremonial group celebrates their ties to the land and animals.

Beginning in the 1870s Mormon settlers, miners, loggers, and ranchers built homes here and struggled to raise families and survive in this remote country. Their descendants still ranch in the monument.

Local stands of ponderosa pine provided building materials for early settlers' cabins and homesteads and for Mormon building projects. No economically significant lumbering began until 1876.

After an abortive gold rush, copper mining took hold in 1873. Of several mines, the Grand Gulch was most important. Mules packed in tools and supplies until a wagon road opened to St. George, Utah, in the 1870s.

Livestock grazing has been part of Arizona Strip culture since the 1850s. It is still part of the monument's multiple-use management where authorized. Few full-time residents live in this remote area today.

Established by presidential proclamation in 2000, this remote national monument includes an array of scientific, natural, cultural, and historic features and opportunities to experience rugged recreation.

Springs or seeps are oases in arid landscapes. Wherever water flows, a green pocket sustains diverse and abundant collections of plants and animals. Impounded now, Pakoon is the monument's largest spring.

Tucked in rocky hills beside a flowing spring, a rustic stone house and other ramshackle structures paint a vivid picture of life on a cattle ranch in the 1930s and 1940s.

An adobe smelter was built around 1878 to avoid hauling unprocessed ore to a distant railhead. Success was partial: slag was later shipped for more processing. In the early 1900s, 75 to 80 people lived on-site.

A rough dirt road winds into a valley and ends at an area with spectacular views of Grand Canyon and the Colorado River.

Hells Hole is an amphitheater eroded from reddish and white Moenkopi Formation rock.

A ½-mile trail takes you to one of the largest petroglyph sites on the Arizona Strip. Hundreds of images pecked into the surface of basalt boulders offer clues about the lives of early native residents.


Here, in over a million acres of vast, remote, and sparsely developed landscapes, the Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service have embarked on a monumental joint venture—to conserve in perpetuity the cultural and natural features and values, and wondrous solitude, in this place where remoteness has underwritten the survival of its strikingly wild character. The monument encompasses the lower Shivwits Plateau, an important Colorado River and Grand Canyon watershed, and contains countless biological and historical values of the Arizona Strip, so called because the Grand Canyon isolates it from the rest of the state.

Congress has designated four areas of the monument for protection as wilderness under the National Wilderness Preservation System Act. Special regulations apply in designated wilderness. Please check at the information center.


park map
(click for larger map)

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and National Park Service (NPS) invite you to experience the 1,050,963-acre Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument. No permits are required for public recreational use. There are no facilities or gasoline available in the national monument.

There is NO cell phone service in the monument.

An Interagency Information Center in St. George, Utah offers exhibits, publications, and maps. Desk staff can answer questions and update you on road conditions. Weekday hours are 7:45 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., closed on Sunday. There are several ways to enter the monument, but be aware that ail access is by rough dirt roads. Before entering the monument procure the BLM Arizona Strip Visitor map or appropriate topographical maps at the Interagency Information Center in St. George, Utah, or at Pipe Spring National Monument, located on Arizona Route 389, 15 miles west of Fredonia, Ariz, (open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily).

Mt. Trumbull, Mt. Dellenbaugh, Nampaweap, and Grand Wash Cliffs Wilderness trails are the only semi-maintained trails within the monument. All other hiking is on routes that are not marked or that require bushwacking through dense brush or rugged terrain.

Before entering the monument you must be prepared for adverse conditions and isolated circumstances. Potential hazards include the rough, unmarked back roads, poisonous reptiles and insects, extreme heat, and flash floods. Drive only on existing roads. High-clearance vehicles are recommended.

Also observe these regulations and safety precautions:

• Take one, preferably two, fullsize spare tires.
• Do not rely on cell phones for emergencies.
• Tell someone where you are going and when you will return. If you break down, stay with your vehicle.
• Take extra food, water, and enough clothing to accommodate weather changes.
• Motorized vehicles must stay on existing roads—no vehicles are allowed in wilderness areas.
• All operators and vehicles, including ATVs, must be licensed on county and National Park Service roads.

For more information about the National Park System visit For more information about the Bureau of Land Management visit

Source: NPS Brochure (2007)


Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument — January 11, 2000

For More Information
Please Visit The
Link to Official NPS Website

Brochures ◆ Site Bulletins ◆ Trading Cards expand section


Accessibility Self-Evaluation and Transition Plan Overview, Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, Arizona (November 2017)

Annotated Checklist of the Vascular Plant Flora of Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument: Phase II Report (Terri Hildebrand and Walter Fertig, May 1, 2012)

Annotated Vascular Plant Database, Grand Canyon Parashant National Monument: Phase 1 Report (Walter Fertig, August 28, 2010)

Arizona Explorer Junior Ranger (Date Unknown; for reference purposes only)

Arizona Strip Visitor Map (BLM, 2016)

Assessment of Rangeland Ecosystem Conditions in Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, Arizona U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2020-1040 (Michael C. Duniway and Emily C. Palmquist, 2020)

Backroads Bastion: Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument Administrative History (Theodore Catton and Diane L. Krahe, December 2018)

Cultural Landscape Report/Historic Structures Report: Tassi Ranch, Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument (2013)

Cultural Landscapes Inventory Level II: Waring Ranch (2003)

Fact Sheet, Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument (December 10, 2015)

Foundation Document Overview, Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, Arizona (January 2016)

Grand Canyon National Park-Grand Canyon/Parashant National Monument Vegetation Classification and Mapping Project NPS Natural Resource Report NPS/GRCA/NRR—2015/913 (Michael J.C. Kearsley, Kass Green, Mark Tukman, Marion Reid, Mark Hall, Tina Ayers and Kyle Christie, February 2015)

Green Springs, Historic American Landscapes Survey (Michael R. Harrison, undated)

Historic Preservation Report: Condition Assessment and Preservation Recommendations — Grand Gulch Mine and Pine Well Ranch, Parashant National Monument (Mark L. Mortier, September 30, 2003)

Horse Valley Ranch, Historic American Landscapes Survey (Michael R. Harrison, undated)

Junior Arizona Archeologist (2016; for reference purposes only)

Junior Ranger Handbook, Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument (Date Unknown; for reference purposes only)

Long-Range Interpretative Plan (August 2012)

Natural Resource Condition Assessments for Six Parks in the Mojave Desert Network NPS Natural Resource Report NPS/MOJN/NRR-2019/1959 (Erica Fleishman, Christine Albano, Bethany A. Bradley, Tyler G. Creech, Caroline Curtis, Brett G. Dickson, Clinton W. Epps, Ericka E. Hegeman, Cerissa Hoglander, Matthias Leu, Nicole Shaw, Mark W. Schwartz, Anthony VanCuren and Luke Z. Zachmann, August 2019)

Natural Resource Condition Assessment, Greater Grand Canyon Landscape Assessment NPS Natural Resource Report NPS/GRCA/NRR-2018/1645 (Sasha Stortz, Clare Aslan, Tom Sisk, Todd Chaudhry, Jill Rundall, Jean Palumbo, Luke Zachmann and Brett Dickson, May 2018)

North Rim Homelands: An Ethnographic Overview and Assessment Relating to Tribes Associated with Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument (Douglas Deur, Rachel Lahoff and Deborah Confer, 2014)

Paiutes, Mormons, and Mericats: A History of Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument Draft (Frederick L. Brown, 2009)

Paleontological Resource Inventory (Public Version), Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument NPS Natural Resource Report NPS/PARA/NRR-2021/2338 (Justin S. Tweet, Holley Flora, Sumner Rose Weeks, Eathan McIntyre and Vincent L. Santucci, December 2021)

Photographic Guide to the Bryophytes of Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument (John Brinda, April 2011)

Pine Ranch, Historic American Landscapes Survey (Michael R. Harrison, 2011)

Plants of the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument (July 2003)

Proclamation 7265—Establishment of the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument (William J. Clinton, January 11, 2000)

Records of Decision and Resource Management Plan/General Management Plan, Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument (Bureau of Land Management/National Park Service, February 2008)

Records of Decision and Resource Management Plan, Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument (2010)

Southern Paiute Cultural History Curriculum Guide: Supplemental Lessons for Grades 6-9 (Joëlle Clark, September 2010)

Southern Paiute - Parashant Bulletin (Volume 1, July 2013)

Tassi Ranch, Tassi Springs, Historic American Landscapes Survey (Michael R. Harrison, 2010)

The Oasis (Mojave Desert Network)

2014: SpringFall

2015: SpringFall

2016: SpringFall

2017: SpringFall

2020: SpringFall

Unav-Nuqauaint: Little Springs Lava Flow Ethnographic Investigation (Kathleen Van Vlack, Richard Stoffle, Evelyn Pickering, Katherine Brooks and Jennie Delfs, September 2013)

Waring Ranch, Historic American Landscapes Survey (Michael R. Harrison, 2011)

Yanawant: Paiute Places and Landscapes in the Arizona Strip — Volume One of The Arizona Strip Landscapes and Place Name Study Final Draft (Richard W. Stoffle, Kathleen Van Vlack, Alex K. Carroll, Fletcher Chmara-Huff and Aja Martinez, December 15, 2005)

Yanawant: Paiute Places and Landscapes in the Arizona Strip — Volume Two of The Arizona Strip Landscapes and Place Name Study (Diane Austin, Erin Dean and Justin Gaines, December 12, 2005)

Additional Documents can be found at this location

Books expand section

Last Updated: 13-Nov-2023