Near Shonto in Navajo County, Arizona — The American Mountains (Southwest)
A Relict Forest
Navajo National Monument
Thriving here in this desert wilderness is an unexpected deciduous forest. The steep canyon walls, seeping precious moisture into the basin at the canyon head, have preserved a shaded and humid environment. Water-loving plants and trees that would be more at home on mountain slopes find refuge here. These isolated pockets of unanticipated landscapes are called relict forests — survivors from an ice age environment that they dominated some 10,000 to 20,000 years ago.
1 • The large, dark turkey vulture is known for its keen eyesight and uncanny sense of smell — ideal for scavenging.
2 • The red-stemmed redosier dogwood forms a dense thicket of shrubs along the canyon floor. Their delicate white blossoms mature into white berries, providing forage for a variety of animals and birds.
3 • Water birch forms thickets about 25 feet in height along the canyon bottom. Usually found along
4 • Usually a mountain species, the tall Douglas-fir thrives in the deep shade of high-walled Betatakin Canyon. The early Anasazi (Hisatsinom) found the strength and rigidity of this wood ideal for roof building. One of the trees below is over 700 years old — present when these early people lived here.
5 • The white-trunked quaking aspen thrives at high elevations and in northwestern lands of North America. The presence of aspen and Douglas-fir here reminds us that climates in the Southwest were once much cooler and wetter.
6 • Barely two inches long, the olive to gray-brown canyon tree frog clings with padded toes to rocks and trees along the canyon floor. Though the frog is camouflaged, its duck-like calls can be heard after early summer rains.
7 • The rare, dark-eyed spotted owl finds refuge in the old growth of this moist, cool canyon. The loss of mature forests elsewhere threatens the survival of this shy, nocturnal predator.
Erected by National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.
Location. 36° 40.813′ N, 110° 32.395′ W. Marker is near Shonto, Arizona, in Navajo County. Marker can be reached from Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Shonto AZ 86054, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Douglas Fir (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Rabbit Brush (about 400 feet away); Gambel Oak (about 400 feet away); Serviceberry (about 400 feet away); Indian Rice Grass (about 500 feet away); Big Sagebrush (about 700 feet away); Wagon (about 700 feet away); The Pygmy Conifer Forest - An Indian Store (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Shonto.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Aspen Forest Overlook Trail, Navajo National Monument
Categories. • Natural Features •
More. Search the internet for A Relict Forest.
Credits. This page was last revised on January 14, 2020. This page originally submitted on January 13, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 34 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on January 14, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.