Overall, the park is part of the grassland environment, but smaller habitats exist. Riparian habitats form along water courses, such as rivers, intermittent streams, and washes. Springs have their own miniature habitat. Along the first part of the road near the north entrance is a small woodland of junipers and cliffroses, similar to many of the ridge lines and mesa tops around the park. The grassland itself can be defined into shortgrass prairie and steppe where more shrubs are found. Human-made habitats include the plaza at the Painted Desert Community Complex Historic District, with landscaping and a fountain pool. The animals and plants that can be found in each of these habitats are influenced by types of soil, water availability, elevation, etc. If looking for a cliffrose, for example, you would go to Tawa or Kachina Point rather than Newspaper Rock. Hoping to see a waterbird, the high mesa tops would not be the best choice, instead-seasonally-you would visit the Puerco River.
Last updated: February 24, 2015