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The Vermilion Cliffs are the second "step" up in the five-step Grand Staircase of the Colorado Plateau, in northern Arizona and southern Utah. They extend west from near Page, Arizona, for a considerable distance, in both Arizona and Utah..
The Vermilion Cliffs are made up of deposited silt and desert dunes, cemented by infiltrated carbonates and intensely colored by red iron oxide and other minerals, particularly bluish manganese. They are in the physiographic High Plateaus Section and Canyon Lands Section of the Colorado Plateau Province.
The Vermillion Cliffs were on an important route from Utah to Arizona used by settlers during the 19th Century. The area was explored by the Mormon pioneer and missionary Jacob Hamblin, who started a ranch at the base of the cliffs in House Rock Valley. Present day U.S. Highway 89A basically follows the old wagon route past the cliffs through House Rock Valley and up the Kaibab Plateau to Jacob Lake.
In the spring, after a good winter rain, the valley between Highway 89 and the Vermilion Cliffs will be covered with a carpet of desert mallow and other spring flowers.
In the image below, Highway 89 is atop the yellow rocks capping the first step of the series, the Chocolate Cliffs and will turn east (to the right) upon entry to the valley below, ultimately crossing the Colorado river at Marble Canyon via the Navajo Bridge.
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