July 9th is your last day to help us protect public lands by speaking up. After that, the Department of Interior will be reviewing 27 of our National Monuments. Sunnyvale’s Justin Vitcov helps explain the importance and beauty of these lands. Head to Patagonia’s site to submit a comment to the Department of the Interior and to learn more about which monuments are in danger.

Carrizo Plain National Monument stands as a testament to land saved from development; however, it’s not the first place you’d think of passing through as Bay Area climber. Reconsider! It shines just after a winter like 2017, when the entire basin turns vibrant yellows, purples, oranges and many other colors of the rainbow. The super bloom phenomenon like this year’s might come once every 10 or 20 years. Some of them come every hundred. The rest of the year, one might wonder if the barren landscape is worth anything at all. But it is worth a lot for the San Joaquin Kit fox, the Pronghorn, the Tule Elk and the myriad other species that need this terrain to survive. The Carrizo Plain is a keystone of sorts—a land linkage that helps maintain connectivity to the various ecosystems and watersheds necessary to ensure the survival of local flora and fauna and the greater health of our entire living planet. Everything, after all, is connected. If that’s not enough to spark your interest, then consider a brief detour the next time you find yourself on the way to Whitney Portal or Vegas climbing locations. It only adds a few hours, and the desert-in-bloom makes an excellent spot to enjoy your lunch.
Speaking of Vegas, Grand Canyon Prashant National Monument, in northwest Arizona, and the abutting Gold Butte National Monument along Nevada’s south eastern border contain some of the most pristine yet uncharted crags in the American Southwest. Many climbers are familiar with the section of I-15 known as the Arizona Strip, or (in climber terms) The Virgin River Gorge. It’s not the most aesthetic climbing in the country—the passing hordes of big rigs and Vegas-bound traffic make for a pronounced vibe that is less-than-ideal for those in search of a wilderness experience—but the rock is near perfect. If you’re heading that way, turn off the highway in Mesquite, cross a little-known bridge of the Virgin River and head out any one of the scores of dirt roads. Before you find the crags, you might come across some of the many residents of Scenic, Arizona. They love exploring these backroads on ATVs. As the town name implies, there’s tons of beautiful high desert country. Yet there’s much more than sights to see. The locals are somewhat secretive, but drive long enough and (even without a guidebook) you could come across some of the best lime and sandstone to be found. Lime Kiln Canyon is one such example and dozens more exist.

Here at Planet Granite, we believe in protecting more (not less) of our public lands. In fact, what drives us is a sport—rock climbing—that depends on it. We have a few days left to voice our support, and we hope you (our community members) will stand with us to speak up for the lands we cherish (and need) to move into the future together.

Photos and post by Justin Vitcov.