Orange-Red rocks of the Wingate Formation are
solidified dunes. Here drifted a desert as extensive
as the Sahara. Windblown sands with a few
reptile tracks were cemented into stone, eventually
eroding to form the sheer red cliffs of the Castle.
Gray and Light Brown rocks form the Chinle
Formation. Volcanic ash from Arizona drifted
down onto a low floodplain. Forests of pine-like
trees washed into swamps to become petrified
wood. In the shallow lakes and meandering rivers
lived labyrinthodonts, large amphibians up to
eight feet long.
Brick Red layers, the Moenkopi Formation, are
full of ripple marks and mud cracks. This was a
humid, tropical land of tidal mudflats and deltas.
Along the banks walked the lizard-like
These rocks are keys to lost worlds. The Castle and each colorful
layer beneath are former landscapes.
During the 35 million years that sediments accumulated,
gradually pressed and cemented into solid rock, the climate was
evolving. Where you now see dry cliffs, there were huge deserts
and warm shallw waters patrolled by reptiles and amphibians.