Travels with Tucker

Travels with Tucker

Monday, April 20, 2015

Canyonlands National Park

After our interlude in Provo, we were itching to get back to the wonderful parks of Utah.  Next on the itinerary was Canyonlands, Dead Horse Point, Arches and the La Sal Mountains--all in eastern Utah in the general area of the Colorado River.  We camped in Dead Horse Point, which is a tiny tongue of land surrounded by the Colorado River on one side and the Green River on the other.  It is just a short way (as the crow flies) from Canyonlands Island in the Sky district, but there is about a 1,000-foot canyon between them.  In fact, this part of Utah is just a huge (REALLY huge) maze of rugged canyons that is basically uninhabited for hundreds of miles.  The views are just tremendous.  Dead Horse Point has a six-mile loop trail that circles the point and it has to be one of the most scenic six miles anywhere.  Here are some highlight pics of the canyon views.

Sunset over Canyonlands

The Green River joins with the Colorado River about 30 miles south of here

The La Sal Mountains are the second-highest in Utah

The Colorado River
There are some really interesting places to hike to in Canyonlands and two highlights were Aztec Butte and the False Kiva.  Aztec Butte has some fascinating ancient Puebloan granaries tucked away on a rock ledge and the hike there offered some great views.  The Puebloan people lived in the Colorado Plateau for thousands of years and mysteriously abandoned their stone dwellings around 1250 AD.  There are tens of thousands of them hidden in the canyons of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona and I liked to seek them out for photography.

The highlight of my time at Canyonlands was the hike to the False Kiva.  This is an archaeological site that has become quite recognized because of some beautiful photographs taken there that have become iconic images of the Southwest.  It is not a difficult hike, but it is unmarked and requires some scrambling in steep canyons.  While hiking out there, a thunderstorm came up and was quickly approaching as I hurried to get to the False Kiva site, which is a small cave (I found out later that caves are not the best place to be in an electrical storm, but it all turned out ok).  I ducked into the kiva cave just as the rain started coming down in sheets.  Thunder was booming off the canyon walls and lightening was streaking across the sky to the south.  Soon waterfalls began to cascade down the canyon walls all around me.
Storm clouds gathered while I hike down to the Kiva

Waterfalls cascaded off the tops of the canyon walls
Finally the rain stopped and the clouds started to part, the sun shining lighting up the cave and the canyons beyond.

 I walked back up from the Kiva in awe of what I had just experienced.  But the day had one more amazing sight in store for me.  Just a few miles from the Kiva trailhead  is the Green River overlook and I thought I would check out the sunset from there.  I think the pictures describe it better than any words can.

To see the full gallery of Canyonlands shots, check out my Google+ album.

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