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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Day 34 Moab, UT (Leg: 0, Trip: 2,238)

Today we drove down to the other park entrance for Canyonlands NP. It is called the Needles section. (As you may recall from an earlier post, the Green and Colorado rivers meet in this park and divide the park in three parts: The Maze which is difficult to access, Needles, and Island in the Sky which we visited 3 days ago.)

It is about 82 miles into the park via the Needles entry and then 82 miles back to the RV. Plus a lot of driving in the park itself. On the way in before you even get to the actual park, there are many remarkable rock formations like the one below. There is no official name for it so I'll just call it a weird looking formation for now.

No name rock formation

Some of the cliffs as you drive to the park are row after row of fins that will most likely become arches someday in their lifespan. There is also an area where there are needles developing but they have not yet separated from the wall. If you look carefully at the picture below, you can see where a needle has slipped down the wall and is laying on a slight angle.

Look carefully for the needle leaning

For about 5 miles of the ride in, you see large mesa like structures repeating every half mile or so. It almost reminds you of cathedrals the way they loom over you.

Carol and I call this Cathredral Valley

You have to remember that this is actually a desert and that they get about 9 inches of rain a year, usually in a few violent thunderstorms that create flash floods. So the water doesn't really percolate much into the soil. Yet as you can see in the picture below, there are pockets of really green trees and bushes.

Where did the water come to make this desert green?

We also saw some pyramid like structures here. Have not seen anything like these that I can recall anywhere else on this trip.

The Pyramids of Utah???

I used the digital zoom to get a closeup of the top of a pyramid. It looks just like a small city up on the top.

Looks like a city on top of the pyramid

Digital zoom of the pyramid city

We did three hikes in the park today. The first was to a cave that contained a spring. It had a cave that cowboys used to use seasonally when running cattle in the area. It also contained another cave further in that had a series of petroglyphs carved thousands of years ago.

Ancient Petroglyphs on the Cave Spring trail

Our second walk took us to an area of potholes. No, not those kind of potholes. These potholes are puddles on the top of the sandstone rocks. There is actually life in the pools including small brine shrimp. When the water evaporates, the small creatures go into a hibernating stage and some can last weeks until the next rain.

Potholes on top of the sandstone rocks

We saw some rather weird formations here too. I don't know what to make of the two below.

Really weird rock formations

There was a good viewpoint to see the needles that give this area its name. You can drive up to the needles if you have a vehicle like a jeep with both four wheel drive and a high clearance.

View of needles formations

More Needles

Even more needles

Another stop we made was to view the Wooden Shoe Arch.

Wooden Shoe Arch

Our last hike of the day was a relatively short one to see a Anasazi grain storage area. The ancient Indians would come here and grow crops and store them in these walled up containers. You can't see it, but the lid is on top. These walls would store crops safe from rodents, though as the years go by, the side walls begin to develop small holes and rodents do get in. Apparently there are many of these sites in the area and you can still see some with crops, and others where rodents finally got into them.

Anasazi grain storage bunker

Tonight, on a whim, we decided to go back into Arches NP at sunset to see the stars from there. Unfortunately it took a long time to get really dark and there was significant moisture so we weren't able to see too much from there. But we did see the international space station pass over and it was fairly bright. On the drive out, many of the formations were silhouetted against the western twilight in the sky and looked really spooky.

Tomorrow is a travel day to Richfield, UT.

1 comment:

Margie M. said...

Loved all the "needle" pics today, Dave. Thanks for sharing your day with all of us.