Today’s outing was to the Canyonlands National Park which is located southwest of Moab. The park is essentially centered on the confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers and the land surrounding the rivers is divided into 3 sections by the rivers. It essentially looks like a convoluted Y and all three sections of land are isolated from each other as there are no bridges in the park. The upper portion of the Y is called the Island in the Sky and this is the area we chose to explore. The left side of the Y is called The Maze and to reach it we would have had to travel about 135 miles to reach it although we were only about 5 miles from it at one of the viewpoints we stopped at. The right side of the Y is called The Needles, and we drove by the access road to it on our approach to Moab a few days ago.
To reach Island in the Sky we still had to travel over 30 miles from Moab to reach the park, and put on quite a few miles inside the park driving between various Viewpoints and Trailheads. We didn’t put on as many miles on the trails as yesterday while we were at the Arches, but did have to take some hikes to see the best viewpoints. This park is also an off roader’s paradise, and the section we saw today is home to the 100 mile White Rim Road. The documentation provided by the park says it’s best to take 2 days to explore this road, and there are various back country camping spots for jeepers to stop at.
The park itself is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary this year. It was designated as a park during the Lyndon Johnson presidency. The story is that the Director of Land Reclamation (the fella responsible for water canals and dams among other things which do more to take away land than reclaim it if you ask me) and the Secretary of the Interior (the man responsible for Parks among other things) were flying over the area when there was interest in building the next BIG dam on the Colorado River just west of the present park. As soon as the Parks guy saw the land he knew it should be preserved, and we’re all better off for it.
These two monoliths on the road into the park are called Merrimac and Monitor after two Civil War battleships.
Just another cool sandstone formation.
The ranger at the entrance gate mentioned that there was a decided lack of arches compared to Arches Park, but we did manage to find one.
We hiked to this spot called Upheaval Dome, it’s usually called a crater in the rest of the world.
That’s the Green River valley in the background.
This is the land that would be underwater if they built another dam.
And finally this is the access road to the White Rim Road. It makes the road to Zeballos look like a drag strip in comparison. (for those of you who’ve never been to Zeballos, it’s not quite the end of the earth, but you can see it from there)
We’ve only been able to scratch the surface of the various parks and monuments we’ve seen this week, but I hope our pictures give just a glimpse on how magnificent these places are. We’re definitely coming back to all of these locations in the future, as there’s so much more for us to explore.
Tomorrow we’re starting to head home in earnest, and should be back in Kelowna by Saturday. It’s sure been another great week!