Canyonland National Park

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Canyonland is my favorite among the national parks we visited in this Utah trip. The park is divided into three sections by the Colorado River and the Green River. The three areas (Island in the Sky, Needle, and the Maze) are not directly connected and it takes extensive driving to travel between one another. We chose to visit the more popular section, the Island in the Sky, partly because it's more accessible, and partly because the poetic, dreamy name is certainly more inviting.

The Island in the Sky is a flat and broad mesa some 1200 ft (365m) above White Rim, a sandstone bench. Colorado River and Green River is still another 1000 ft (304m) below the White Rim. Standing at the edge of the mesa, looking down on the seemingly boundless White Rim and the canyon cut open by the rivers, it does feel like looking down from heaven.

 

Let's back up and start from the beginning. It was a freezing winter morning in Moab, UT. There're few cars on the road, which is so straight and flat, you can see miles ahead. The two buttes in the were named Monitor and Merrimac to commemorate two Civil War ironclad battleships that battled each other till their last breaths and sunk.

Near the visitor center is the beginning of the Shafer Trail that descend down onto the White Rim. The world-renown trail is 4x4 rated so I rented one SUV just for it. However, it was closed due to heavy snow in previous days. Pity!

 

The Mesa Arch. Through the window of the Mesa Arch a panoramic view of the White Rim, isn't it cool?

Zoom closer...

 

Green River Overlook. Segment of the winding Green River can be seen in the 2nd & 3rd pix.

The Upheaval Dome. This area is rather unusual - geologically. While the area around it usually consists of flat layers of rocks, the Upheaval Dome has a crater-like structure with rock layer tilted and displaced. The formation of the crater is still under debate. One school of geologists suggest that it's formed by upward movement of the salt bed buried underneath, while the other suggest that the irregularity is the aftermath of a meteor impact some 60 millions years ago. In the last pic is the Whale Rock.

 

Buck Canyon Overlook.

 

Grand Viewpoint. Just from those panoramic views you can tell the name is well-deserved.

Oh that texture...

Have fun with ice and snow...

 

Last but not the least, sunset in the adjacent Dead Horse Point State Park, with an impressive overlook above the winding Colorado River. The place got its name because it's where thieves hide their stolen horses.

 

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