Archive - Navajo National Monument

November 17, 2019


Each Sunday we present a notable item from our archives. This EPOD was originally published November 16, 2013.

: Stu Witmer
Summary Author: Stu Witmer

The photo above was taken outside the visitor center of the Navajo National Monument looking down Betatakin Canyon toward the Triassic and Jurassic rock formations of Long Canyon. Skeleton Mesa is in the distance. Located in the Navajo Nation of northwestern Arizona, the monument was created in 1909 and contains about 360 acres. The park boasts one of the best examples of Navajo Sandstone anywhere on the Colorado Plateau. This rock formation, created from ancient windblown sand dunes reaching 800 to 1,100 ft (240 to 340 m) high, is part of a vast Jurassic desert that existed for roughly 40 million years and contained sand dunes that may be the largest ever recorded.

Because the Navajo Sandstone is porous it acts as an aquifer. When the water it retains encounters the nonporous rocks of the Kayenta Formation it moves along the margin and emerges as springs along the canyon walls. This was one reason why people began to settle in the area about 1,400 years ago. Over time the population grew and several large pueblos were constructed in alcoves of the canyon walls during the last half of the thirteenth century. Photo taken October 12, 2012.

Photo Details: Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1300 IS; Focal Length: 10.9mm; Aperture: f/4.0; Exposure Time: 0.0013 s (1/800); ISO equiv: 80.