Cliff Dwellers is one of those funky, unexpected little places suddenly appearing at the side of the road out of nowhere. In this case the road is Hwy 89A near Navajo Bridge, Arizona.
Hwy 89A skirts the edge of the high mesas of the Vermillion Cliffs. Cliff Dwellers isn’t what it sounds like. Nobody dwells on cliffs. They dwell at the bottom of a cliff. It is part tourist trap and part strange; like something out of Ripley’s “Believe it or Not”.
The flat top of a mesa is made of layers of harder stone than its surroundings. Over time, those surroundings are slowly eroded away by the forces of rain and wind.
Occasionally, over eons of time, large chunks of the hard rock at the mesa’s top break away and tumble down the sides to the bottom. Cliff Dwellers is where an unusually large number of boulders accumulated in a small area.
The big hard-rock boulders protect the soft soils beneath them from further erosion, but rain and wind continue to wash away the surrounding soils.
That forms hoodoos. A hoodoo is a mushroom-like rock formation made of a protected soft-soil pedestal topped with a hard rock capstone.
Cliff Dwellers is a small grove of hoodoos at the bottom of the Vermillion Cliffs.
At Cliff Dwellers some of the hoodoos were re-purposed into rock houses.