The Hermit Shale is the uppermost of a series
of brilliant red cliffs and slopes which comprise much of the
exposed depositional layers at the Grand Canyon. The iron-rich red
beds of the Hermit Shale provide much of the red color characteristics
of the Grand Canyon. In the central portion of the canyon the Hermit
Shale forms a soft, deep red slope immediately below the sheer,
light-colored cliff of Coconino Sandstone. It is about 300 feet
thick along the Bright Angel Trail and extends to the top of
the Supai Group. In places the
wide slope of the Hermit Shale broadens into a shelf known as
the Esplanade (primarily in the western portion of the Grand
The deep red and maroon siltstones and mudstones of
the Hermit Shale represent a coastal lowland environment (lagoon)
on the edge of a sea, with occasional swampy conditions. This
layer is rich with plant fossils in areas.
The animal in this scene is a Dimetridon. There is
also a giant dragonfly. The trees are conifers (Araucarian Pines)
which are similar to the trees responsible for the petrified
wood today at the Petrified Forest southwest of the Grand Canyon.
Giant Horsetails and ferns fill out the scene.