Book Cliffs

The Spring Canyon sandstones in the Book Cliffs above the town of Helper, Utah. There are several sedimentary cycles visible in the cliffs (perhaps up to seven or eight)
Book Cliffs and Mt. Garfield (on right, approximate altitude 6,600') in Mesa County, Colorado
The Book Cliffs, Helper, Utah.

The Book Cliffs are a series of desert mountains and cliffs in western Colorado and eastern Utah in the western United States.[1] They are so named because the cliffs of Cretaceous sandstone that cap many of the south-facing buttes appear similar to a shelf of books.[2][1]

Description and historyEdit

Stretching nearly 200 miles (320 km) from east to west, the Book Cliffs begin where the Colorado River descends south through De Beque Canyon into the Grand Valley (near Palisade, Colorado) to Price Canyon (near Helper, Utah). The Book Cliffs appear mostly along the southern and western edge of the Tavaputs Plateau. The cliffs are largely composed of sedimentary materials. The Book Cliffs are within the Colorado Plateau geologic province.

In the Colorado stretch of the Book Cliffs, abandoned coal mines are present, as significant coal resources were present in the region. These mines are now generally capped for safety, but several fatalities of recreational hikers have occurred at these mines since 1989 (due to lack of oxygen/CO2 gas inhalation).[3]

In some places, "wild" horses can be found in the Book Cliffs, for example (in 2008), a band of four was spotted near the abandoned Gearhart coal mine in Mesa County, Colorado.[citation needed]


A flute cast, one of many sedimentary structures found in the Book Cliffs

The Book Cliffs are one of the world's best places to study sequence stratigraphy. In the 1980s, Exxon scientists used the Cretaceous strata of the Book Cliffs to develop the science of sequence stratigraphy. The Book Cliffs have preserved excellent strata of the foreland basin of the ancient Western Interior Seaway that stretched north from the Gulf of Mexico to the Yukon in the Cretaceous time. Components of deltaic and shallow marine reservoirs are very well preserved in the Book Cliffs.


Large mammals found in the Book Cliffs include coyotes, mountain lions, bobcats, mule deer, elk, black bears, pronghorn, American bison as an extension of the Henry Mountains bison herd and bighorn sheep.

In January, 2009, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources officials transplanted 31 bison from the Henry Mountains bison herd to the Book Cliffs.[4] The new group joined 14 animals previously released in August, 2008 from a private herd on the nearby Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation.[5] Since this herd is located approximately 100 miles (160 km) north of the Henry Mountains, across mostly harsh, desert terrain, it should perhaps be considered as a separate herd, the Book Cliffs bison herd.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Book Cliffs
  2. ^ Van Atta, Dale (Jan 22, 1977). "You name it - there's a town for it". The Deseret News. p. 15. Retrieved 18 October 2015 – via Google News.
  3. ^ Colorado Division of Reclamation Mining and Safety. Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program Fatalities Archived May 20, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 9-01-2009.
  4. ^ "DWR captures bison near Lake Powell". Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. Archived from the original on 2009-12-10.
  5. ^ "Bison Return to the Book Cliffs". Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. Archived from the original on 2009-10-25.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 39°10′00″N 110°17′33″W / 39.16667°N 110.29250°W / 39.16667; -110.29250