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Tucked into a remote and seldom visited section of the Colorado Plateau of northeastern Arizona is an unusual geological feature that I will call the "Joseph City Fissures" I have looked on several maps and have not been able to determine any other name for them. Locally they are known as the "Cracks," and few people outside the local population know of their existence. The "Cracks" consist of an area about one and a half miles wide by about 2 or 3 miles long where the Coconino Sandstone lies bare and jagged, exposed to the artistic hand of Mother Nature.
What makes this area unique is the large number of faults that crisscross this whole area in all directions. The visible fissures range from a half-inch, up to 30 or 40 feet across, and may run for hundreds of feet. Most are no deeper than 50 to 60 feet, but there are some that you cannot see clear to the bottom. In addition to the thousands of fissures that have split apart horizontally, countless others have shifted vertically, with separations of their original surfaces that can measure as much as 20 feet or more.
There is no established trail or route to follow in exploring the area. Follow your nose and create your own experience once you are in the area of the fissures. You may want to roam about on the surface or possibly take rappelling gear with you to drop down into some of the larger fissures. If you drop in, you will need to be prepared to ascend your rope to get back out. There are many, however, that you can easily climb or walk down into as well.
Caution: None of these fissures are marked or protected in any way. If you have pets or small children with you, you must closely control their movement lest they fall into a fissure. This is not an area suitable for running and playing. One of my photos of this area is of a skull resting at the bottom of a rather large fissure. The elk that fell in there never had a chance of getting back out and is but one of many victims that have met their demise in these fissures over the years. Don't be the next one!
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