San Francisco Peaks

Last updated
San Francisco Peaks
San Francisco Peaks.jpg
The San Francisco Peaks viewed from atop nearby 9,000 ft Mount Elden
Highest point
Peak Humphreys Peak
Elevation 12,633 ft (3,851 m)
Coordinates 35°20′N111°40′W / 35.333°N 111.667°W / 35.333; -111.667 Coordinates: 35°20′N111°40′W / 35.333°N 111.667°W / 35.333; -111.667
Naming
Native nameDookʼoʼoosłííd(in Navajo)
Nuvatukya’ovi (in Hopi)
Wi:munakwa (Yavapai)
Geography
San francisco peaks geo.jpg
Map of San Francisco Peaks and surrounding volcanic field
CountryUnited States
StateArizona
Geology
Age of rock Between 1 Million and 93,000 Years Ago
Type of rock Igneous
Volcanic arc San Francisco Volcanic Field
Last eruption ~400,000

The San Francisco Peaks (Spanish : Sierra de San Francisco) are a volcanic mountain range in San Francisco volcanic field in north central Arizona, just north of Flagstaff and a remnant of the former San Francisco Mountain. The highest summit in the range, Humphreys Peak, is the highest point in the state of Arizona at 12,633 feet (3,851 m) in elevation. The San Francisco Peaks are the remains of an eroded stratovolcano. [1] An aquifer within the caldera supplies much of Flagstaff's water while the mountain itself is in the Coconino National Forest, a popular recreation site. The Arizona Snowbowl ski area is on the western slopes of Humphreys Peak, and has been the subject of major controversy involving several tribes and environmental groups. [2] [3]

Contents

Geography

The San Francisco Peaks, Spring 2015 Humphreys Peak AZ.jpg
The San Francisco Peaks, Spring 2015
The San Francisco Peaks (with Agassiz center), Fall 2007. SanFranciscoPeaks2007.jpg
The San Francisco Peaks (with Agassiz center), Fall 2007.
The San Francisco Peaks as seen from Bellemont, Arizona, Winter 2014. Bellemont Arizona View.jpg
The San Francisco Peaks as seen from Bellemont, Arizona, Winter 2014.

The six highest individual peaks in Arizona are contained in the range:

The mountain provides a number of recreational opportunities, including wintertime snow skiing and hiking the rest of the year. Hart Prairie is a popular hiking area and Nature Conservancy preserve located below the mountain's ski resort, Arizona Snowbowl.

Humphreys Peak (latitude 35°20'47" N) and Agassiz Peak (latitude 35°19'33" N) are the two farthest south-lying mountain peaks in the contiguous United States which rise to a height of more than 12,000 feet above sea level.

Prior to its collapse due to a lateral eruption to the northeast (around 200,000 years ago) and subsequent glacial erosion, the San Francisco Peaks fully matured elevation is estimated to have been around 16,000 feet. [4]

History

In 1629, 147 years before San Francisco, California, received that name, Spanish friars founded a mission at a Hopi Indian village in honor of St. Francis, 65 miles from the peaks. Seventeenth century Franciscans at Oraibi village gave the name San Francisco to the peaks to honor St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of their order. [5] The mountain man Antoine Leroux visited the San Francisco Peaks in the mid-1850s, and guided several American expeditions exploring and surveying northern Arizona. Leroux guided them to the only reliable spring, one on the western side of the peaks, which was later named Leroux Springs.

Around 1877, John Willard Young, a son of the Mormon leader Brigham Young, claimed the area around Leroux Springs, and he built Fort Moroni, a log stockade, to house railroad tie-cutters for the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad, which was then being built across northern Arizona. [6]

In 1898, U.S. President William McKinley established the San Francisco Mountain Forest Reserve, at the request of Gifford Pinchot, the head of the U.S. Division of Forestry. The local reaction was hostile—citizens of Williams, Arizona, protested and the Williams News editorialized that the reserve "virtually destroys Coconino County." [6] In 1908, the San Francisco Mountain Forest Reserve became a part of the new Coconino National Forest.

In 2002, Arizona Snowbowl, the ski resort on the peaks, proposed a plan to expand and begin snowmaking using reclaimed water made of treated sewage effluent. A coalition of Indian tribes and environmental groups sued the Coconino National Forest, which leases the land to the ski resort, in an attempt to stop the proposed expansion, citing serious impacts to traditional culture, public health, and the environment. [3] In 2011, construction began on a wastewater pipeline to the peaks. In response, there has been an ongoing series of protest actions including demonstrations and lockdowns in which protesters have chained themselves to construction equipment. [7] Notable protesters include Navajo musician Klee Benally, singer/guitarist for the punk rock band Blackfire, who has been arrested for disorderly conduct during his ten years of protests. [8] In 2012, a federal appeals court ruled in favor of Arizona Snowbowl, and wastewater to snow conversion began in the 2012–2013 ski season. [8]

Ecology

The biologist Clinton Hart Merriam studied these mountains and surrounding areas in 1889, describing a set of six life zones found from the bottom of the Grand Canyon to the summit of the mountains, based on elevation, latitude, and average precipitation. He designated their characteristic flora, as follows:

Composite image of the Peaks and the San Francisco volcanic field, looking SW towards Flagstaff. NASA image from satellite imagery projected onto a digital elevation model. SanFranciscoPeaks.ASTER,20031021.jpg
Composite image of the Peaks and the San Francisco volcanic field, looking SW towards Flagstaff. NASA image from satellite imagery projected onto a digital elevation model.

Merriam considered that these life zones could be extended to cover all the world's vegetation types with the addition of only one more zone, the tropical zone.

The San Francisco Peaks themselves contain four of the six life zones. The four life zones which are found along the slopes of the San Francisco Peaks are listed below along with their approximate elevation ranges, dominant tree species found within each of the four life zones, and average annual precipitation of each life zone: [9]

In native culture

The San Francisco Peaks have considerable religious significance to thirteen local American Indian tribes (including the Havasupai, Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni.) In particular, the peaks form the Navajo sacred mountain of the west, called Dook'o'oosłííd. The peaks are associated with the color yellow, and they are said to contain abalone inside, to be secured to the ground with a sunbeam, and to be covered with yellow clouds and evening twilight. They are gendered female. [16]

Lockett Meadow, 1996 Lockett Meadow, 1996.jpg
Lockett Meadow, 1996
San Francisco Peaks viewed from U.S. Route 89 San Francisco Peaks 01.jpg
San Francisco Peaks viewed from U.S. Route 89

For the Hopi people, the San Francisco Peaks are associated with the intercardinal direction southwest. They constitute ritually pure sacred spaces, and are used as sources for ceremonial objects. [17] :553–556 The alignment of the sunset from the peaks to Hopi villages on Black Mesa is used to calculate the winter solstice, signifying "the beginning of a new year, with a new planting season and new life." [17] The peaks are seen as the home of the katsinam or kachina spirits, ancestors who have become clouds following their death. [17] Katsinam are invited to Hopi villages to serve as ethical and spiritual guides to the Hopi community from midwinter to midsummer. Aaloosaktukwi or Humphrey's Peak holds particular religious significance and is associated with the deity Aaloosaka, a symbol of the Two-Horn Society, a religious group among the Hopi dating to the occupation of the Awat’ovi village on Antelope Mesa. [17] Depiction of the peaks in association with calendar-keeping is attested in a kiva at the Hisatsinom settlement of Homol'ovi, which was occupied from 1250 to 1425; [17] katsinam imagery dates to the 13th century as well. [17] :556 Other Native American peoples also relate kachina spirits to heavy snowfalls on the peaks.

There are several names for the San Francisco Peaks in local languages: [6]

View from Agassiz.jpg
180 degree S/W panorama from the top of the Agassiz Peak chairlift

See also

Related Research Articles

Flagstaff, Arizona City in Arizona, United States

Flagstaff is a city in, and the county seat of, Coconino County in northern Arizona, in the southwestern United States. In 2018, the city's estimated population was 73,964. Flagstaff's combined metropolitan area has an estimated population of 139,097.

The life zone concept was developed by C. Hart Merriam in 1889 as a means of describing areas with similar plant and animal communities. Merriam observed that the changes in these communities with an increase in latitude at a constant elevation are similar to the changes seen with an increase in elevation at a constant latitude.

Humphreys Peak Highest mountain in Arizona

Humphreys Peak is the highest natural point and the second most prominent peak after Mount Graham in the U.S. state of Arizona, with an elevation of 12,633 feet (3,851 m) and is located within the Kachina Peaks Wilderness in the Coconino National Forest, about 11 miles (17.7 km) north of Flagstaff, Arizona. Humphreys Peak is the highest of a group of dormant volcanic peaks known as the San Francisco Peaks.

Northern Arizona

Northern Arizona is an unofficial, colloquially-defined region of the U.S. state of Arizona. Generally consisting of Apache, Coconino, Mohave, and Navajo counties, the region is geographically dominated by the Colorado Plateau, the southern border of which in Arizona is called the Mogollon Rim.

Coconino National Forest protected area in Arizona, US

The Coconino National Forest is a 1.856-million acre United States National Forest located in northern Arizona in the vicinity of Flagstaff. Originally established in 1898 as the "San Francisco Mountains National Forest Reserve", the area was designated a U.S. National Forest in 1908 when the San Francisco Mountains National Forest Reserve was merged with lands from other surrounding forest reserves to create the Coconino National Forest. Today, the Coconino National Forest contains diverse landscapes, including deserts, ponderosa pine forests, flatlands, mesas, alpine tundra, and ancient volcanic peaks. The forest surrounds the towns of Sedona and Flagstaff and borders four other national forests; the Kaibab National Forest to the west and northwest, the Prescott National Forest to the southwest, the Tonto National Forest to the south, and the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest to the southeast. The forest contains all or parts of ten designated wilderness areas, including the Kachina Peaks Wilderness, which includes the summit of the San Francisco Peaks. The headquarters are in Flagstaff. There are local ranger district offices in Flagstaff, Happy Jack, and Sedona.

Eldorado National Forest

Eldorado National Forest is a U.S. National Forest located in the central Sierra Nevada mountain range, in eastern California.

The Coconino Plateau is found south of the Grand Canyon and north-northwest of Flagstaff, in northern Arizona of the Southwestern United States.

Kendrick Peak mountain in Arizona

Kendrick Peak or Kendrick Mountain is one of the highest peaks in the San Francisco volcanic field north of the city of Flagstaff in the U.S. State of Arizona and is located on the Coconino Plateau in Coconino County.

Arizona Snowbowl an alpine ski resort located on the San Francisco Peaks

Arizona Snowbowl is an alpine ski resort in the southwest United States, located on the San Francisco Peaks of northern Arizona, seven miles (11 km) north of Flagstaff. The Snowbowl ski area covers approximately one percent of the San Francisco Peaks, and its slopes face west and northwest.

Kachina Peaks Wilderness wilderness area in Arizona, US

Kachina Peaks Wilderness is a 18,616-acre (75 km2) wilderness area about 6 miles (10 km) north of Flagstaff within the Coconino National Forest in the U.S. state of Arizona.

Geography of Arizona

Arizona is a landlocked state situated in the southwestern region of the United States of America. It has a vast and diverse geography famous for its deep canyons, high- and low-elevation deserts, numerous natural rock formations, and volcanic mountain ranges. Arizona shares land borders with Utah to the north, the Mexican state of Sonora to the south, New Mexico to the east, and Nevada to the northwest, as well as water borders with California and the Mexican state of Baja California to the southwest along the Colorado River. Arizona is also one of the Four Corners states and is diagonally adjacent to Colorado.

Blue Mountains (ecoregion) Ecoregion (WWF)

The Blue Mountains ecoregion is a Level III ecoregion designated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the Pacific Northwest, mainly in the state of Oregon, with small areas over the state border in Idaho and southeastern Washington. It is also contiguous with the World Wildlife Fund's Blue Mountain forests ecoregion.

Klamath Mountains (ecoregion) Ecoregion (WWF)

The Klamath Mountains ecoregion of Oregon and California lies inland and north of the Coast Range ecoregion, extending from the Umpqua River in the north to the Sacramento Valley in the south. It encompasses the highly dissected ridges, foothills, and valleys of the Klamath and Siskiyou Mountains. It corresponds to the Level III ecoregion designated by the Environmental Protection Agency and to the Klamath-Siskiyou forests ecoregion designated by the World Wide Fund for Nature.

Ecology of the North Cascades Ecosystems of the Cascade mountain range in northern Washington state and southern British Columbia

The Ecology of the North Cascades is heavily influenced by the high elevation and rain shadow effects of the mountain range. The North Cascades is a section of the Cascade Range from the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River in Washington, United States, to the confluence of the Thompson and Fraser Rivers in British Columbia, Canada, where the range is officially called the Cascade Mountains but is usually referred to as the Canadian Cascades. The North Cascades Ecoregion is a Level III ecoregion in the Commission for Environmental Cooperation's classification system.

California montane chaparral and woodlands

The California montane chaparral and woodlands is an ecoregion defined by the World Wildlife Fund, spanning 7,900 square miles (20,000 km2) of mountains in the Transverse Ranges, Peninsular Ranges, and Coast Ranges of southern and central California. The ecoregion is part of the larger California chaparral and woodlands ecoregion, and belongs to the Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub biome.

Ecology of the Rocky Mountains Ecology of the Rocky Mountain range in North America

The ecology of the Rocky Mountains is diverse due to the effects of a variety of environmental factors. The Rocky Mountains are the major mountain range in western North America, running from the far north of British Columbia in Canada to New Mexico in the southwestern United States, climbing from the Great Plains at or below 1,800 feet (550 m) to peaks of over 14,000 feet (4,300 m). Temperature and rainfall varies greatly also and thus the Rockies are home to a mixture of habitats including the alpine, subalpine and boreal habitats of the Northern Rocky Mountains in British Columbia and Alberta, the coniferous forests of Montana and Idaho, the wetlands and prairie where the Rockies meet the plains, a different mix of conifers on the Yellowstone Plateau in Wyoming and in the high Rockies of Colorado and New Mexico, and finally the alpine tundra of the highest elevations.

Wasatch and Uinta montane forests

The Wasatch and Uinta montane forest is a temperate coniferous forest ecoregion in the Wasatch Range and Uinta Mountains of the western Rocky Mountains system, in the Western United States.

Great Basin montane forests

The Great Basin montane forests is an ecoregion of the Temperate coniferous forests biome, as designated by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

<i>Packera franciscana</i> species of plant

Packera franciscana is a rare species of flowering plant in the aster family known by the common name San Francisco Peaks groundsel, or San Francisco Peaks ragwort. It is endemic to Arizona in the United States, where it is known only from the San Francisco Peaks in Coconino County. It is threatened by recreational activities in its habitat. It is a federally listed threatened species of the United States.

Mixed coniferous forest is a vegetation type dominated by a mixture of broadleaf trees and conifers. It is generally located in mountains, below the upper montane vegetation type.

References

  1. "San Francisco Peaks". USGS factsheet. Retrieved 2006-12-16.
  2. "San Francisco Peaks, AZ". NASA Earth Observatory. Archived from the original on 2006-09-30. Retrieved 2006-05-23.
  3. 1 2 Nasaw, Daniel (2011-10-19). "Indians oppose 'recycled' sewage for Arizona skiing". BBC News Magazine. BBC.
  4. Hardy, James A. "The History of the San Francisco Peaks" (PDF). Flagstaff Visitor Center. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-07-17.
  5. Cline, Platt (1976). They Came to the Mountain. Flagstaff: Northern Arizona University with Old Town Press.
  6. 1 2 3 Houk, Rose (2003). "San Francisco Peaks". The Mountains Know Arizona. Arizona Highways Books.
  7. MacMillan, Leslie (August 19, 2013). "Diné activist protests wastewater-to-snow scheme". High Country News.
  8. 1 2 MacMillan, Leslie (September 26, 2012). "Resort's Snow Won't Be Pure This Year; It'll Be Sewage". New York Times.
  9. "Biotic Communities of the Colorado Plateau". Northern Arizona University and United States Geological Survey. Archived from the original on February 4, 2013. Retrieved March 21, 2012.
  10. "Alpine Tundra" (PDF). Coconino National Forest Plan Revision. United States Forest Service. Retrieved 2012-03-21.
  11. "Species Biology And Population Trend" (PDF). Arizona Game and Fish Department. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-08-23. Retrieved 2012-03-21.
  12. "Alpine Tundra Biome". Northern Arizona University. Retrieved 2012-03-21.
  13. Epple, Anne Orth; Epple, Lewis E. (1995). A Field Guide to the Plants of Arizona. Falcon Publishing.
  14. "Alpine Tundra". Arizona Game and Fish Department. Retrieved 2006-09-09.[ permanent dead link ]
  15. "Kachina Peaks Wilderness". GORP. Archived from the original on 2010-05-13.
  16. Robert S. McPherson, Sacred Land, Sacred View: Navajo perceptions of the Four Corners Region, Brigham Young University, ISBN   1-56085-008-6.
  17. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Glowacka, Maria; Dorothy Washburn; Justin Richland (2009). "Nuvatukya'ovi, San Francisco Peaks". Current Anthropology. 50 (4): 547. doi:10.1086/599069. ISSN   0011-3204.
  18. Munro, P et al. A Mojave Dictionary Los Angeles: UCLA, 1992

Further reading