Monday, August 25, 2014

Last day at Arches

Today was get-in-free day at all National Parks.  We thought we might have to fight for space in our last couple of hikes in Arches, but we got there early enough to miss most of the crowds.  We had seen most of the sites on our previous two visits, but there were a few short ones we wanted to complete.

The first was to Sand Dune Arch.  This was fun because the walk was short, cool and took us through a slot.

Owl (we think) nest in one of the many holes in the rock.  We know this is a nesting site because of the white poop in front.

From the Sand Dune the trail led across open grassland to Broken Arch.

We didn't get on the trail until almost ten but saw some wildlife which has proven very difficult on our previous hikes. 

Mule deer

This arch isn't really broken but was called that because it appeared broken from a distance.

 Next stop was North Window
South Window.  

Unnamed arches

Turret Arch

The windows trailhead started from the upper parking lot.

From the lower parking lot was a trail on the other side of the road that went to Double Arches.  I chose this view for the perfect shade of blue above the top arch.

 After lunch we headed down Scenic Byway 291 for an Indian Rock Art tour.  This means petroglyphs which are motifs that are pecked, ground, incised, abraded, or scratched on the rock surface, and pictographs which are paintings or drawing in one or more colors using mineral pigments and plant dyes on the rock surface.  We followed Long Canyon which features art dating from 5300 BC to 1880 AD.  

This is a favorite rock climbing area before the rock art begins. 


Long Canyon was carved out by the Colorado River.  Below is the river road, the vehicle road and the railroad.

Jug Handle Arch.  We were unable to find the art here, but enjoyed the arch.

The white marks are the three-toed tracks of an Allosaurus. 

To the left of these tracks are the petroglyphs which look like cut-out dolls.

We enjoyed a lot of art on this tour, but by the time we reached the end of the Canyon we were hot and tired.  We decided to save the three sites on the other side of the river for tomorrow.

You tired yet?

Louise and Duane

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Canyonlands National Park--Needles Area

Sunday dawned bright and clear with no chance of rain--a day made for the 67 mile ride to the entrance to Needles, one of three areas that make up Canyonlands National Park.  Friday we did a driving tour of the north part of the triangle, Island In The Sky.  Yesterday brought showers and thunderstorms all day so that we only ventured out for church and ice cream afterward.  Today we opted to enjoy our rain-less day out.

The road from Moab to Needles has different rock formations.  It comprises the south east corner of Canyonlands.  The other corner is called The Maze and can be accessed only by river--the Green River in the north and the Colorado after the Green flows into it, by high-clearance 4-wheel drive vehicle, or by hiking.  

The further south we went the more we encountered these shrubbery stuffed hills.

All over the Moab area parks and BLM lands (like this) we found these slickrock sandstone formations called beehives.  Utah got its nickname from these formations.  Its called the Beehive State.

The area outside Needles is BLM land.  This area is open range and we crossed lots of these cattle guards.

Just along the road is a pull-off for this interesting area.

There are so many pictographs here that I imagined ancient peoples stopping along here to see where the good hunting was or to leave the latest news.

Duane and I are real rock lovers.  We are suckers for unusual formations like these pillars.

Land of the grand mesas.

Unusual little pond.  The ranger at the visitors" center commented that the summer monsoons started late this year.  Ordinarily this would have been evaporated by this time.

 We liked the design of the visitors' center which blended in with its surroundings.

There are lots of hikes of varying lengths and terrain here.  We opted to ride all of the paved roads and take the short hikes from easily accessible trail heads.  The first is called Roadside Ruin and led to this ancient grainery storage.  The walk also pointed out various edible plants the ancient people would have used.

Hike two was to an historic cowboy camp at Cave Spring, so called because there is a perpetual seep here.   In 1926 there was a successful cattle operation here.  It took 200 acres to feed one cow and water sources were many rugged miles apart.  Cowboys usually worked several weeks or months at a time.  Each cowboy packed his belongings  and moved from spot to spot as they moved the cattle around.  This open shelter was better than out in the open.  There are a series of overhangs along here.  They were used by ancient peoples too, as evidenced by painted figures and grinding depressions on boulders (not pictured)

The trail let up two ladders to slickrock to point out various plants and animals that adapted to the hot arid area.

On the way to our next hike we passed a  famous rock formation that forms a window.  Can you see the wooden shoe?

The paved road ended in the Big Spring Canyon overlook.  The 4 mile trail to the confluence (of the Green and Colorado Rivers) starts here.  We opted to walk around the mesa top and photo the wonderful views.

These rock towers are called needles and give this area its name.  I love them because it looks like a large city out there.

Water runoff carved out this canyon/basin.  

Love the hoo-doos

From Big Spring Canyon we tootled back down the road to a picnic area for lunch, then a little farther on for our last hike, Pothole Point.    Potholes (originally called cenotes) are left in the slickrock surface erodes unevenly.  The depressions hold water from the monsoons until the water evaporates.  Birds, mammals, and reptiles depend on these temporary pools.  They are also home to tiny plants and animals.  Each pool is a complete ecosystem.  The life cycles of these organisms is accelerated.  Within hours eggs hatch and within days life becomes visible.  Crustaceans, tadpoles, worms and insects live in the tiny world.  After the water evaporates, some organisms survive as eggs that lie dormant within the cracked mud.  A few, such as snails, are able to survive as adults by sealing themselves within their shells.

Below is a tadpole shrimp and a snail.  

Not sure but I think this is a fairy shrimp.  It is about 1/4 inch long.

On our way out we saw a rather large herd of cattle on both sides of the road.  Since this is open range, we had to be sure all of them were well away from the road and not apt to wander in front of us.

The road home passed Wilson Arch.

We really enjoyed our visit to Needles and recommend it as a must see for everyone.  It is well worth the trip.

More hiking in our future?  Depends on the weather.

Louise and Duane

Friday, August 22, 2014

Dead horse Point State Park and Canyonlands National Park

Last night when I looked out the window it looked like snow on the mountain but it was just sun and shadow. 

This morning we were going to head south to the Needles area of Canyonlands but the neighbor changed my mind for me. He came over and ask me if I wanted a pass to Dead Horse Point State Park, heck yes. The pass saved me $10.00. So instead of heading south, we headed north. First stop was the state park. The park got it's name from back when the ranchers would round up wild horses and pen them up while they  separated out the ones they wanted. Seems after removing the good ones they forgot to go back and release the ones they didn't want. They all died before they got back. What a shame.

 We took the 4 mile hike stating at the visitors center on the east rim hiking around the point to the west rim.

 The Colorado River runs through the canyon.
 Louise pointing the way.
 One of many of the overlooks

 A picture through a window in the rocks
 The view from the point.

The canyon views of this canyon are some of  the best we have been to.

 After leaving Dead Horse we headed about 6 miles down the road to the Island in the Sky area of Canyonlands National Park.
The sky looked really crazy with dark clouds and streaks of rain. We put on our rain gear and headed down the road. I guess putting on our suits scared the rain away, we stayed dry all day. When we returned to the rv there was a puddle of water on  the bike cover.
Because of the dark skies, we didn't spend a lot of time here. We stopped at most of the overlooks but we didn't do any hiking here. We may return if we get the time. I think we are going to stay a while longer in this area because there is so much to see.

  This canyon area was not as impressive as the one at Dead Horse Point.

It was a lot different. Below you can see one of the storms. 

Lots of needles down there.

 The road home.
We may take the rock art tour tomorrow, not sure yet, We will make up our minds when we see what the weather is. They are calling for rain.
Til next time
Duane and Louise