If you’ve ever been to Utah, you’ve likely been dazzled by the colorful rock formations you’ll see throughout the state. These geological formations give the state its nickname of Color Country!

What is responsible for those stunning colors, you ask? Well, the answer lies in the geology of the region.

The Colorado Plateau

The Colorado Plateau is a massive geological province that straddles the Four Corners region, encompassing parts of Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico. It is an area larger than all of New Mexico that is composed of thick layers of sedimentary rock. 

Millions of years of erosion have created stunning rock formations, including dramatic cliffs, fanciful domes, spectacular towers, and breathtaking arches. The plateau itself is divided by the Colorado River and its tributaries. 

Their work exposed a long and colorful geologic history. The red deposits in the riverbed are what prompted the nickname ‘red rock country.’ But what exactly creates the color? 

What Creates the Color in Color Country?

Trace minerals create the spectacular hues in Utah’s rocks found in the region’s soils. Reds, browns, and yellows are the result of oxidized iron, which, when exposed to oxygen in the air and water, undergoes a chemical reaction that forms a coating on the surface of rocks and rock grains. 

In essence, rusting sandstones and shales create the vibrant colors that are common in the area. These formations date to various periods during the Earth’s history. But where can you see these incredible geological formations? 

Where Can You Find the Color?

The Colorado Plateau covers parts of Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico. In southern Utah, you’ll find many of the state’s most amazing rock formations with stunning colors. Here are a few of the places where the colors and scenery won’t disappoint. 

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon in Color Country

You’ll find Bryce Canyon National Park in southern Utah. It is famous for its crimson-colored hoodoos, which are tall, slender rock spires that display vibrant red, orange, and white layers of color.

They are striking pinnacles that are each uniquely shaped, with some even resembling animals, people, or other forms. You can see these along the main road that takes you past an astonishing formation called the Bryce Amphitheater. 

The Bighorn Slot Canyon

Bighorn Slot Canyon in Color Country

A slot canyon is a long, narrow gorge with sheer rock walls that have been eroded into sandstone or other sedimentary rock. The Bighorn Slot Canyon is a tributary of the Harris Wash in the Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument

The canyon runs for three miles and reaches a depth of 400 feet as it cuts into Navajo sandstone rock layers. These layers are famous for an unusually wide range of colors, as well as breathtaking formations and varied textures. 

Where Should You Stay?

If you’re planning on visiting these amazing natural wonders and others in Color Country, you’ll want to stay in a comfortable, unique, and memorable place. Why not consider Escalante Yurts

Their luxurious yurts can accommodate a couple looking for a romantic getaway as well as a larger family searching for fun! Each yurt has comfortable beds with linens provided, kitchen facilities, heating and cooling, and a private patio. Make your reservation today

Image Credits: #1: Unsplash and #2: Unsplash