Canyonlands National Park – Island in the Sky

“Let the people walk.” – wrote Edward Abbey, in his 1968 autobiography Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness.

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Walk is all we did at Canyonlands National Park.

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Carved by the Green and Colorado river, Canyonlands National Park is vast.

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So vast that it is divided it into four districts, namely – Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze and the two rivers. The average elevation here is over 5,000 feet, uplifted from sea level 20 million years ago.

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Island in the Sky is a broad and leveled mesa. Resting on sheer cliffs 1,000 feet above the surrounding terrain, it is the most accessible district of the park.

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Geology talks are offered twice daily March to October at Grand View Point.

The 2-mile Grand View Point loop trail hugs the cliff’s edge and delivers a sweeping view of the canyon and the river below.

Watch for mini-cairns residing inside the rock caves along the trail.

If solitude is what you seek, the 3.6-mile Murphy Point trail is less crowded and offers an equally breathtaking vista.

Instead of people, you will encounter lizards and plenty of wild flower.

Upheaval Dome is a mystery.

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There are two prominent theories of the intriguing rock formation. Recent studies suggest that it was likely the site of an impact crater from a meteorite landing.

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The one-mile loop trail gets you to the first overlook. There was a bit of incline on the way up, but coming down was a pure breeze.

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After Upheaval Dome, we decided to head back to the Visitor Center – because at that point, my friends were completely out of their water supplies and I did not have enough to cover the three of us. To continue in this heat without water could be life-threatening. The Visitor Center is the only place in the park to refill.

We finished the day with a half-mile hike to the spectacular Mesa Arch.

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Abbey described Canyonlands as “the most weird, wonderful, magical place on earth”. So it is only fitting that we concluded our journey in the Southwestern U.S. with such a unique spot

Next up: Grand Teton National Park and Jackson, Wyoming.

Note:

We spent three nights in Moab, UT and ate at three different restaurants, two of which I can recommend.

La Hacienda is a bustling Mexican dinner right off US Hwy 191.

It is a great place for a quick meal. The seared Ahi taco is delicious and the servers will get you out of there in as quickly as half an hour, provided if you can get a table in the first place. Ask your hotel for discount coupons if they offer.

Twisted Sista’s Cafe is owned by two sisters – I like the idea of a family business, especially owned by women. Julie works in the kitchen while Terri greets customers in the front.

Although my baked Alaskan Halibut – marinated in lemon-basil aioli with Parmesan served on top of Almond rice and grilled Asparagus – costed a steep $26, the fish was fresh and cooked to perfection. I guess, if you want to eat fish from the northern sea in the middle of a desert, there’s a price to pay. The home-made strawberry sorbet was especially refreshing after a long day hiking under the sun.

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28 thoughts on “Canyonlands National Park – Island in the Sky

  1. I enjoyed seeing the Grand Canyon report. Lovely photos. The top two are hazy, and just like it is. If you like to doctor your shots a little in the dark room there is a de-haze slider in Lightroom. It can eliminate haze.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. In my ski bum days back in the 70s (previous century) the lifts would close early April and we would head to Squaw Flats campground in the Needles district to camp and hike. Great flat rock walking. It was about 10 miles (round trip??) to the confluence of the Green and Colorado. Weather was usually pleasant.

    Liked by 1 person

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