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Colorado Plateau Province

map showing colorado plateau in utahThe Colorado Plateau is a rugged desert landscape that covers large parts of the Four Corners states: Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. The thick rock of the Plateau was uplifted millions of years ago. Rivers cut through it to create the stunning landscape of today. The province has three major regions: the Uinta Basin, Canyonlands, and High Plateaus. Read more about the Colorado Plateau.


dry landscape

Landscape near Brown's Hole, in northeast Utah. Photo by Michael Swigart on Flickr.

Uinta Basin

The Uinta Basin lies south of the Uinta Mountains. In many ways it is like a basin, but unlike the Great Basin, the Green River and its tributaries do flow out of it, into the Colorado River. These rivers have carved deep canyons into the Roan Cliffs and the Tavaputs Plateau/Book Cliffs areas. Most of the Uinta Basin is dry rolling landscape, cut by ravines and washes.

What challenges would a farmer have here?  What natural resources does the Uinta Basin have?

Read more about the Uinta Basin.


Colorado River and mesas

Landscape near Moab, Utah. Photo by Utah-Dave AA71Z on Flickr.


This section of the Colorado Plateau has been lifted gradually while the Colorado River and its tributaries have cut deep canyons and other landscape features. Igneous intrusions formed three mountain ranges as the surrounding rock later eroded away. Mesas, buttes, cliffs, plateaus, arches, and other colorful formations resulted part of what people call red-rock country.

How did the indigenous people live here? What survival strategies did they use?


Colorado River and mesas

The Wasatch Plateau in Utah. Photo by Tom Clifton on Flickr.

High Plateaus

West of the Canyonland Section lie high plateaus separated by faultlines and valleys. At the south lie several cliffs named for their colors: the Chocolate Cliffs, Vermilion Cliffs, White Cliffs, Gray Cliffs, Pink Cliffs, and Black Cliffs. All together, these are called the Grand Staircase. The Grand Canyon section of the Colorado Plateau lies south of the Grand Staircase.

How do you think this high country was used by humans through history? What resources did it provide?