UtahWilderness.org

Zion-Mojave Region

Proposed Wilderness in the Zion-Mojave Region

Click on the image above to view a gallery of the Zion-Mojave Region.

Most of the arid lands of Utah occur within two geographic provinces — the Colorado Plateau and the Great Basin. But in the extreme southwest corner of the state, the two landscapes entwine with the Mojave Desert; the result is a marvelous swirl of ecological and geological diversity that challenges even the deftest imagination.

Known as the Hot Desert, it is the lowest, warmest place in the state, and place where one of the nation’s largest, healthy populations of endangered desert tortoise remains.

At Beaver Dam Wash, the arms of Joshua trees wave wildly alongside gaunt arroyos and stark rock outcroppings, with the craggy Beaver Dam Mountains looming just beyond.

Just north of the Wash, the lava and granite drainages and pinyon-juniper woodlands of Cougar Canyon and Doc’s Pass link seamlessly with wildlands in Nevada’s Beaver Dam State Park and a roadless area in Utah’s Dixie National Forest.

Red Mountain, the stunning sandstone backdrop to Snow Canyon State Park, the Shivwits Indian Reservation, and the town of Ivins, contains hundreds of archaeological sites and a transition zone of vegetation, where Sonoran zone yucca and agave mingle with higher-elevation Gambel oak.

Across Interstate 15, where it descends to meet the Hot Desert, one can see the southwestern edge of the Colorado Plateau.

Water is the lynchpin of all life here, and the Zion-Mohave region provides it for the Hot Desert below. The Blackridge unit just west of the national park contains a substantial stretch of LaVerkin Creek, which has been proposed for Wild & Scenic river designation. The thousand-foot-deep Orderville Canyon, which connects with the ever popular hiking route through the Zion Narrows, is also a major tributary.

Feeding the Virgin River, these flows carve in unison a vibrant and lush corridor of life through an otherwise arid land. It is this corridor that links the Hot Desert and Greater Zion to provide one of the most visually and biologically compelling landscapes in the state.

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