Thursday – September 26, 2013
Island In The Sky
Canyonlands National Park, Utah
Windy weather returned with a vengeance, out of the southwest Tuesday night, here at Ken’s Lake Campground, near Moab, Utah. We visited the Island In The Sky region of the Canyonlands on Wednesday and returned today to finish our tour. The temperature these past few days has been wonderful, in the high 70’s, but the wind is unbelievable, with wind gusts at almost 50 mph. Walking into these wind conditions presents a significant physical exertion. This is definitely "bad-hair-day" type of weather! Motorhomes and trailers are gently rocked as the gusts of wind sweep through the campground. It actually makes for pleasant sleeping last night.
Photography is less than ideal at the park in these windy conditions. On a clear day. views of the canyon 100 miles in the distance can be seen. Yesterday and today, the strong winds have created blowing sand storming through the canyons, creating a smog-like condition, obscuring some views of the canyons. Under these gusty wind conditions, caution is prudent when viewing the depths of the canyons from the rim.
Canyonlands is a place of colorful landscape eroded into countless canyons, mesas and buttes by the Colorado and Green rivers and their tributaries. It is Utah’s largest national park and is divided into four districts: Island in the Sky, the Maze, the Needles and the Green and Colorado rivers.
Island in the Sky
This is the highest and northernmost section of the park. Formed of a broad, level mesa, it is bordered on the west by the Green River and on the east by the Colorado River. Grand View Point Overlook provides views that encompass 100 miles of canyons. A thousand feet below is the White Rim, a nearly continuous sandstone bench that follows the contours of the mesa. Below that, the Green and Colorado rivers sedately flow toward their confluence. After they meet, they undergo a turbulent change and pass furiously through a stretch of white water known as Cataract Canyon. They then continue on their way through the Grand Canyon and out to the sea at the Gulf of California.
This is the westernmost section of the park and is also the most rugged and difficult to access. It is one of the most remote and unreachable regions in the U.S. A 4-wheel-drive vehicle is necessary to explore this region. There are bizarre towers, walls, buttes and mesas. Prehistoric cultures have left their mark in the Maze. Ghostly, larger-than-life figures, painted more than 2,000 years ago, adorn the walls of the Great Valley in Horseshoe Canyon, a detached part of the park northwest of the Maze.
This is in the southeastern section of the park and is an area of immense diversity, with arches, spires, canyons, prehistoric Indian ruins and fascinating pictographs.
Canyonlands remains largely untrammeled, its roads mostly unpaved, trails primitive, and rivers free-flowing. Bighorn sheep, coyotes, and other native animals roam its 527 square miles. Canyonlands is wild America.
Tomorrow another adventure begins.