Sunday, 5 April 2015

Day 20; Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park, Moab, Utah.

After our early start yesterday we enjoyed a very leisurely morning.  I worked and the boys plugged into Pokemon on the DS.  They have not played with those devices in years.

We set out north about 20 miles to Canyonlands National Park.  While this park is only about 10 miles east of Arches the topography is completely different. It is like a mini Grand Canyon but just as beautiful. It is not as deep but seems wider.  Maybe that is just my impression.  Layer upon layer of rock. 

This morning it is very windy and the distant sky is full of haze.  We are told that this is dust.  We feel badly for those who were looking forward to clear canyon shots today.  Because we have just come from the Grand Canyon we are OK with the diminished views.

Our first stop is the Mesa Arch which is just moments away from the parking lot.  With few people we are able to take our postcard pictures with ease.  What makes this arch different from yesterday is the staggering drop out the back side and the view of the canyon.

Next we hike up to Upheaval Dome. This formation is thought to have been the result of either a meteorite impact or a slow-moving salt dome. Who knows?  It is a like a small mountain inside of a crater.  I was glad the stiff wind was blowing us away from the edge of the cliff. 

A few more miles drive around the rim of the canyon takes us to a nice picnic pullout complete with covered cabanas.  I can only imagine how hot this place is in the summer.  Here we enjoy our lunch.  More bbq chicken wraps.  Chicken breasts are extremely inexpensive while ground beef is priced like filet mignon.  So, chicken it is!

We stop at the aptly named Grand view to see east and south across the canyon.  If you look carefully you can see a few mountain bikes and the odd jeep navigating the middle plateau layer. 

Yesterday we kept running into an elderly couple with a young aspiring photographer in their care at each lookout. On one of our last stops today we had a good laugh as we saw them yet again pull in as we pulled out.  We are being followed!

We make a quick stop at the Canyonlands interpretive centre for me to get a magnet.  It is better to get the magnet after seeing the sites so that I can pick a meaningful one.  This is becoming a serious business!

As we drive back out the way we came in, we come to the turn off to our very last park of this trip, Dead Horse Point State Park.  This is a high island peninsula that juts out above the river.  Wild horses would be driven through the narrow neck (30 m) and out onto the high point so that the best horses could be selected from the group.  With the sheer drops this made a natural pen.  It is said that one time the remaining horses were corralled on the point and barricaded in but left to die of thirst and starvation hence the name, Dead Horse Point.

Yet again we are peering over amazingly high cliffs, watching a good documentary video at the interpretive centre and hopping in and out of the truck at various viewpoints.  Oh, and don’t forget the magnet, Mama. 

We are told this is Jay Lenno's jeep. So, like everyone else we take a picture. 

Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park.

Let's not sit too far back because this arch drops away to the canyon far below.

A natural safety wall. 

So many textures. . .. 

Cryptobiotic soil. Following information from interpretive centre sign.
 'This word is derived from the Greek kryptos for "hidden" and bios for "life"
meaning hidden life.  This soil is  a community of living organisms whose members include cyanobacteria, algae, lichen, fungus and moss. It grows very, very slowly and is extremely important here in the desert. It forms a protective sheath around the soil to help hold it together and keep it from washing or blowing away

It was very windy here, fun to play in!

Picnic areas come complete with a personal parking pull out and a covered cabana.
The chipmuck was just waiting to get in there for our crumbs. 

We are getting used to no guard rails. 

Throughout this area we are amazed at the thick, seemingly dead tree trunks that
sprout life.

The 'neck' of Dead Horse Point.  Hmm I think 30 feet is more like it. 

The horseshoe bend looking down from Dead Horse Point. 

This is our VERY last scenic stop of this trip.  Tomorrow we begin the three day drive back to Kelowna, BC. 

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