The Colorado Plateau [ ˌ ː kɒləɹɑ doʊ plætoʊ ] ( Colorado Plateau ) is a region west of the Rocky Mountains in the southwestern United States, which consists of several plateaus. The area extends across the Southeast Utah, northern Arizona and parts of New Mexico and Colorado. The Colorado Plateau is almost as large as Germany with an area of ​​337,000 km ². It is drained by the Colorado River and its tributaries, and therefore his name.

For area of the Colorado Plateau include the Markagunt Plateau, at the western edge of the Cedar Breaks National Monument, located just east adjacent to the Paunsaugunt Plateau, located at the eastern edge of Bryce Canyon National Park and again east of it the Aquarius Plateau, also the Kaibab plateau north and the Coconino plateau south of the Grand Canyon.

The Colorado Plateau, which has the shape of a shallow dish, which is criss-crossed by faults, canyons, mesas, arches and columns, averages 1,500 meters above sea level.


The rocks of the Colorado Plateau is built up in layers. The oldest strata occur in the Inner Gorge of the Grand Canyon -a-days, about 730 m altitude. They are 600 to over 2000 million years old, dating from the time of the Precambrian.

During this period in the area of present-day Colorado Plateau was a basin that began to fill with erosional deposits. Later, the basin filled with water and there was a sea. Due to tectonic plate shifts, there was formation of mountains with fractures, dislocations and cracks and folds. The result of such a convolution can be seen today at the Capitol Reef National Park.

Over time, the old pool rose by just over 1000 meters to the present Plateau, while the Colorado River, the Green River and other rivers exaggerated canyons in the rock. Due to the rock hardness in different layers of the erosion proceeded differently. It emerged in some places unusual formations, such as the hoodoos in Bryce Canyon, and the stone arches in Arches National Park.

The geological history of the earth can be studied at the Grand Staircase (Grand Staircase ). In this rising region in stages rock layers are exposed from different geological eras. In the area of ​​Zion Canyon are 65-220 million year old layers of the mantle visible. This age is the Mesozoic was the time of the dinosaurs. At the highest level of the Grand Staircase, on the edge of Bryce Canyon and at over 3000 m, are the youngest rocks that have been raised by mountain building and worn away by erosion.

Recent origin are several volcanic fields in the area. Among the San Francisco Volcanic Field and the associated Sunset Crater in Flagstaff in northern Arizona and the Navajo Volcanic Field in the center of the Colorado Plateau, near Four Corners.


The Colorado Plateau is allocated geographically to the large basins ( Great Basin ) between the mountains of the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada. The area is generally a desert because evaporation throughout the year is higher than the rainfall. Due to the large differences in height and the fracture through the many canyons and mesas, the climate is local but very different.

National Parks

In the region of the Colorado Plateau are eight U.S. national parks and other protected areas, for example:

  • Arches National Park
  • Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Canyonlands National Park
  • Capitol Reef National Park
  • Grand Canyon National Park
  • Mesa Verde National Park
  • Petrified Forest National Park
  • Zion National Park

Other cities

In the Colorado Plateau are among others the following locations: