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The Colorado Plateau is a distinct physiographic province in western North America covering an area of roughly 337,000 km2 (130,115 mi2) across parts of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah. Elevations range from about 360 m (1,180 ft) in the overall Grand Canyon (GC; which includes the Grand Canyon National Park, GRCA) river corridor to an average at the eastern South Rim of 2,072 m (6,800 ft) to 3,850 m (12,630 ft) on the nearby San Francisco Peaks at Flagstaff, Arizona, with an average elevation of 1,525 m (5,000 ft). The Colorado River of Grand Canyon is located along the southwestern portion of the Colorado Plateau in Arizona and is renowned for its dramatic display of geomorphic effects created by fluvial incision and its unique dry-preservation of fossils from the Ice Age (late Pleistocene and Holocene [Quaternary]; most recent 2.58 million years). Although there were at least 22 glacial-interglacial cycles during the Ice Age, this discussion is limited to the most recent episode (called the Wisconsinan Glaciation), which includes the transition to the modern climate (latest Pleistocene and Holocene; the most recent 50,000 years of geologic history).

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