Spring Break Part 2: Canyonlands National Park

As mentioned in Spring Break Part 1, my friends and I headed down to Moab, Utah for a “road less traveled” spring break experience! The first couple of days, we wandered around BLM lands and Arches National Park, but the last day we drove to Canyonlands National Park.

View of the park geography through Mesa Arch
View of the park geography through Mesa Arch

Since this park is so big, and we only had one day, we chose to tackle the “Island in the Sky” portion. As you can see from the map below, that is only about 1/3 of the park area, and we still didn’t even see the whole thing!

Map of Canyonlands – we went to the top portion, “Island in the Sky”

“Island in the Sky” is made up mostly of rock formations, a few arches and gaping canyons below: the short hikes are mostly looking down on the canyon.

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Sitting on the edge of the world! My parent’s didn’t like this one – Don’t try this at home! (but try it at Canyonlands instead!)

According to the National Park Service, the geography of Canyonlands was formed millions of years ago through rock deposits, uplift and erosion:

Canyonlands is part of a region called the “Colorado Plateau,” an area that stands high above the surrounding country. About 20 million years ago, movement in the Earth’s crust began to alter the landscape of North America, building modern landforms like the Rocky Mountains, Nevada’s Basin and Range, and the Colorado Plateau. Some geologists believe that the plateau has risen as much as 10,000 feet since the uplift began.

These movements also created cracks where melted rock rose from deep inside the Earth. In some places, it cooled before reaching the surface, creating pockets of harder, igneous rock within the surrounding sedimentary layers. Eventually, erosion exposed these harder deposits, creating the isolated mountain ranges visible from Canyonlands: the La Sals, Henrys and Abajos.

As I mentioned, we hiked around the top of the formations and looked down toward the White Rim Road (named aptly for its appearance of driving around the white-rimmed canyon). Below, you can see the white rim.

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One other aspect to note about this park is the sheer size. Arches was awesome, but it didn’t have sprawling canyons and deep crevices. These pictures don’t even do the park justice, so I suggest you visit!

Me doing yoga.. on the edge of the world (again)
Me doing yoga.. on the edge of the world (again) – notice the white rim of the canyon below

All in all, if you get a chance to visit Moab – take it! The views are spectacular and you can’t get an idea of the massive landscape until you see it through your own eyes.

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Before I sign off on this post, I wanted to stress “don’t do this at home” – and even if you do it an Canyonlands, be careful. There was nothing below me besides the rock I was standing on, and even that is risky!

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2 thoughts on “Spring Break Part 2: Canyonlands National Park

  1. Pingback: Earth Week 2014 Thursday: National Parks Week! | Environmental Explorations

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