View of Monitor and Merrimac Butes with stone ‘cairn forest’ in the foreground
After our exertions of yesterday we decided on a day in the car to explore Canyonlands to see if there were any good day hikes to be had. With temperatures expected to peak in the mid thirties in the valley it was a relief to be a couple of thousand feet higher on the high plateau. A lovely drive out of Moab with plenty of stop offs for photos. First stop, before entering the park proper, was to take some photos of the Monitor (right) and Merrimac (left) Butes (named after the opposing Civil War ironclad ships of the same name). These prominent Butes tower 600ft above their Navajo sandstone base. One thing we learnt was that the prominent reds and yellows are formed when iron in the rocks is exposed to the atmosphere. The black sheen prominent on cliff faces (which was especially beautiful in Capitol Reef) known as desert varnish is formed by manganese. The purples and greens (which we saw a lot of round Upheval Dome) are caused by clay mineral
Once in the park we made our way first to Mesa Arch where we had a short walk to a beautifully situated pothole arch on the edge of a cliff line on the Island in the Sky, part of a 1,200-foot drop into Buck Canyon. Our photo on the ‘exciting drive in Canyonlands’ shows the iconic keyhole view of White Rim country through the arch. link to Utah guide
From here we drove to Upheval Dome and did the Overlook Trail. This is a stunning short hike up to the rim of a crater which we could hike round for a about 1.5km and get amazing views into the crater. Managed to find some shade in a rock formation for our mid morning apple admiring the stunning scenery of the crater with cliffs of red, black, green and white! Having got back to the car around one we found more shade for Jacqui’s first ever attempt at a wrap. A resounding success of diced chicken in a cucumber and yogurt dressing wrapped in lettuce with chopped tomatoes and cucumber! Not the last time on this trip we will be having wraps. We decided to come back another day to complete the trail round the outer edge of the dome and into the crater itself.
Link to detailed route page and map click on route title
After lunch we decided to take a drive down to the end of the Grand View Point road, stopping at various points to get out of the car an admire the views, plus of course take photos.
As it was such a beautiful day, (and we had aircon to keep us cool) we decided to take a 4-wheel drive, near Dead Horse Point State Park down to the Colorado River via Long Canyon. But that is another story…….