Sunday, September 25, 2011

Canyon Lands National Park -- an Island in the Sky!

Canyonlands National Park is located about 5 miles north of Moab, UT and almost directly across the street from Arches, National Park. These are both spectacular parks, but surprisingly different. As you enter Canyon Lands, you first travel past these two large mesas named the Monitor (right) and Merrimack, which were named after the Civil War ironclads. I guess, with some imagination, we could kind of see the two warships here, but in any case, these were beautiful rock formations.

 The entrance to Canyonlands is about 20 miles to the south after turning off the main road from Moab. There are several interesting stops, including these cactus which are growing in one of the pot holes on top of solid rock as you can see above. These are the early stages of erosion that will eventually create new canyons of the future.

 Driving along the entrance road, we came to the Canyonlands Visitor Center. Named Island in the Sky, we didn't realize at this time that we really were on a mesa way up in the sky -- and surrounded by deep canyons.

 A few miles after the entrance, we figured out the Island in the Sky idea as we came upon these amazing canyons. These are a couple thousand feet deep and several miles in width.

 Wow! these are very large canyons! We could see well over 50 miles and it was a great view to consider the floor of the canyon. In this case, the canyon houses the Colorado River, although it was so far below us, we could not see it from here.

 Here, you can clearly see a small, dirt road that folks can drive with a Jeep or dirt bike. These are very popular activities, but we decided that our trusty Buick might be better off on the top of the mesa rather than down on the bottom!

 There are all kinds of interesting rock spires, mesas and formations that stand in the canyon areas. This is the second main canyon, formed by the Green River and will eventually join the Colorado at the end of the Island in the Sky, a few miles south of us.

 Rick really enjoyed looking at the rocks, drop-offs and canyons. Orinda, on the other hand, does not like heights -- and we had PLENTY of heights and dropoffs here. Needless to say, she was content to stay a bit back and take the occasional picture.
 Here, we are approaching the union of the two canyon systems (Colorado and Green Rivers) and the canyons are getting very, very wide. The formations in the background are about 40 miles away.

 This is part of the Grand View, where the canyons join. You can see three distinct levels in the canyons -- the top, where we are, then the next level where there are white deposits around the deeper canyon and then the very bottom of the canyon. Each level of about 1,000 feet deep, so the bottom is a good 2,000' below us.

 Orinda was not delighted to be standing here, but wanted to get a good look at this huge canyon system. It did not take her long to get her fill of the canyon!

We had a great visit of several hours at Canyonlands Park. The scenery is unlike almost anywhere else we have been and is well worth the visit.


Chuck and Anneke's RV travels said...

Fantastic pictures.

Ron Howes said...

An amazing travel blog, I spent the past 2 hours reading it from day one. Sioux Falls is my hometown (1943), and while I've been to many of the places you traveled to, I have to admit I must have just driven by many of them without realizing how great they were.

As we hit the road again in our 1993 Fleetwood Flair (green with envy when I see your rig), I'll try to stop more often and stay a while.

We did travel about 15,000 miles since the first of the year, including a trip to Newfoundland and Florida. See our travel blog at


Ron and Hazel Howes