From the brochure: Canyonlands preserves a wilderness of rock at the heart of the Colorado Plateau. Water and gravity have been the prime architects of this land, cutting flat layers of sedimentary rock into hundreds of canyons, mesas, buttes, fins, arches, and spires. At center stage are two canyons carved by the Green and Colorado rivers. Surrounding the rivers are vast and very different regions: Island in the Sky (north); the Maze (west); and the Needles (east). The areas share a common primitive spirit and wild West atmosphere, each offering its own rewards. Few people were familiar with these remote lands and rivers when the park was established in 1964. Only Indians, cowboys, river explorers, and uranium prospectors had dared enter this rugged corner of south-eastern Utah, but few others did. To a large degree, Canyonlands remains untrammeled today. Its roads are mostly unpaved, its trails primitive, its rivers free-flowing. Bighorn sheep, coyotes, and other native animals roam its 527 square miles. Canyonlands is wild America.
We stayed in the Island in the Sky area, which is the most accessible, and made our way to Grand Views Point Overview, where we listened to the geology ranger program. From this vantage point, you can see the Needles in the distance and just about make out the confluence point where the Green and Colorado Rivers meet. We ate lunch in the somewhat windy picnic area close to Gooseberry Canyon.
We hiked the short loop trail out to Upheaval Dome; this is speculated to be the site of a meteorite landing, so was something a little different for this Park, pretty much everything else has been formed by water and erosion.
Later in the afternoon, we hiked out to Mesa Arch – we would, of course, see far more arches during the week at Arches NP, but as this was the first we saw, it was spectacular and beautiful. Actually sitting underneath it was a tad alarming as there was pretty much a sheer drop-off on the other side – yet more gray hairs and fear for poor Mama!
After being sworn in again as Junior Rangers, we stopped at a couple more overlooks for photos, learning at one about the little potholes in the rocks. When these fill up with water, animals living in these tiny bowls, complete their entire life-cycle in the short space of time they have before their habitat dries up again – it’s amazing! We were fascinated. We did learn more about this life cycle in the Visitor Center at Arches, where they also had a model you could see the different insects that survived within this brief, transient habitat.
States visited: 49!
visited 49 states (98%)
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Miles driven so far -
LOOP 1 (Aug 2009 - Aug 2010): 29,000
LOOP 2 (May - August 2012): 10,800
Highest altitude with camper: 11,158ft (I-70, CO)