Grand Canyon National Park
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 Utah Travel Center National ParksGrand Canyon • Flora


Grand CanyonThere is a broad spectrum of elevations within the Grand Canyon. Because of this, many different plants from all kinds of climates call the canyon home. Going down the canyon is much like travelling from Canada to Mexico. The elevations divide plant life in the canyon into groups called 'life zones.' The highest life zone is called the Transition Zone. It covers plant life living 7,000 to 8,250 feet above sea level. There is the Upper Sonoran Zone, which covers from 3,500 to 7,000 feet. The rim lies within both of these zones. The next life zone is the Lower Sonoran Zone, which covers all life below 3,500 feet. Within each of these life zones, there is a completely unique series of plant life, just waiting for you to observe and enjoy their magnificent beauty.

The rim (Transition Zone - Upper Sonoran Zone). The plant life in and around the rim consist of those that would normally be present within the mountains. A sampling of the plant life here includes:

  • Piņon pine - Also known as the the pinyon pine, these trees are small, bushy, and shabby looking. They can reach heights of up to 20m. They produce tasty pine nuts that have been a favorite of Southwest indians for years.
  • Utah juniper - This tree is characterized by its waxy leaves and shaggy bark. Its berries are used for animal food and have been used for years by Native Americans for food.
  • Shrubby cliff rose - This flower has small, thick, evergreen leaves. It is white with a shreddy reddish-brown bark.
  • Sagebrush - No matter how short your stay in the desert, you are bound to run into a sagebrush, or have one blow by you. It grows from .3 to 6 meters tall, has silvery, toothed leaves, and bunches of little yellow flowers.
  • Ponderosa Pine - Widely distributed throught western North America, this serves as wildlife habitat, and recreational uses.
  • Gambel oak - A common shrub in Arizona, this tree is one of two oaks in Arizona that loses its leaves in the autumn. It often forms small thickets or a tree that can reach a height of 50 feet.
  • Baby white asters
  • Yellow sunflowers
  • Golden western wallflowers
  • Orange globemallow
  • Rabbitbrush
  • Indian paintbrush
  • Purple hill lupine

The inner canyon (Upper Sonoran Zone). The plant life of the inner canyon is like that you would find in the western deserts of the United States. While visiting the inner canyon, you can expect to find:

  • Cliff rose
  • Fernbush
  • Mountain Mahogany
  • Utah penstemon
  • Carmine thistles
  • Engelmann's prickly pear
  • Beavertail cactus
  • Grizzly bear cactus
  • Whipple cholla

The inner gorge (Lower Sonoran Zone). The inner gorge makes you feel you are in northern Mexico. Some of the flora you are going to find here include:

  • Yucca
  • Tamarisk
  • Fremont cottonwood
  • Columbines
  • Monkey flower
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