Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Casing out Canyonlands

We spent all day today at Canyonlands National Park. This is a park we’ve never been to before. It was established in 1964 and much of it is still inaccessible without 4-wheel drive or hiking. And, some of it is just flat inaccessible! The Green and Colorado Rivers come together here and their deep canyons have created three different, separate sections within Canyonlands: The Maze, The Needles and Island in the Sky.

Our choice to visit was Island in the Sky as it is the most accessible. We started out by going to the end of the road: Grand View Point Overlook. It’s hard to describe the sheer size of this place and even photographs can’t really justify it either.

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I believe this next few pictures were from White Rim Overlook. This little hike gave us the heebie-jeebies walking along these edges. There were just too many of them that were ledges sticking out over these 1,000 – 2,000 foot drop-offs. And, the fact that much of the rock at the top of these mesas was called “Navajo Sandstone” didn’t help. This whole area was created by river erosion and breaking rocks – soft rock! Yikes!

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The next little hike was nearer our comfort level. We hiked a couple miles round-trip to see Upheaval Dome, which some scientists believe was caused by a meteorite.


This view of a couple of notches off to the northwest was kind of neat.


And, on the way back we discovered “Lora’s Little Arch”!


And, Claret Cups Hedgehog Cactus…


Porcupine Prickly Pear Cactus (I believe), and…


possibly Palmer Lupine.


Next, was a short hike to see Mesa Arch.

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And, finally we stopped at the Shafer Canyon Overlook.


There are lots of little lizards here.


This is a partial view of Shafer Trail, which long ago was used to move cattle between the canyon bottoms and the mesa tops. Now it’s a 4-wheel drive trail – but not for us! By the way, sometimes some of the cattle fell to their deaths…


This might be hard to see but the next two pictures show (in the center) a trail we followed out on this little mesa to read a couple of interpretive signs about the Shafer Trail.

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Look where they put the sign! Right on the edge of at least a 1,000 foot cliff! OK, we’re spooked enough for one day – time to go home.


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