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Dates of visit:
Sept. 30, 2006 -
Oct. 18, 2006

We rate this trip a:

Trip Highlights:
 Scenic byways
 Ghost towns
 Mountain vistas
 Hiking
 Autumn colors
 Small towns
 National Parks
 National Monuments
 Las Vegas
 

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First page - Wolf Creek, Creede Ghost Town and Bachelor Loop, Lake City, Henson Ghost Town
Second page - Powderhorn, Marble, Redstone & Ashcroft Ghost Towns, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Aspen & Maroon Bells Wilderness
Third page - Independence, Vicksburg, Gilman & Red Cliff Ghost Towns, Town of Leadville
Fifth page - Capital Reef NP, Anasazi & Kodachrome SPs, Georgetown & Widtsoe Junction Ghost Towns, Staircase/Escalante NM
Sixth page - Bryce Canyon & Zion NPs, City of Las Vegas
Seventh page - Arizona Ghost Towns: Oatman, Chloride, Vulture Mine, Stanton
*** Colorado ***
*** Colorado National Monument ***
*** Utah ***
*** Cisco Ghost Town, La Sal Loop ***
*** Dead Horse State Park ***
*** Canyonlands & Arches National Parks ***
        Travel Route
        Colorado National Monument
        Site Gallery - Colorado National Monument
        Cisco Ghost Town
        La Sal Loop & Castle Valley
        Dead Horse State Park
        Canyonlands National Park
        Site Gallery - Canyonlands National Park
        Arches National Park
        Site Gallery - Arches National Park
Colorado National Monument

Colorado National Monument ** Location of Colorado NM **

Colorado National Monument ... preserves one of the grand landscapes of the American West.. Bold, big, and brilliantly colored, this plateau-and-canyon country, with its towering masses of naturally sculpted rock, embraces 32 square miles of rugged, up-and-down terrain. This is a special place, where you can contemplate glorious views that stretch to distant horizons; where you can discover solitude deep in a remote canyon; where you can delight in wild country where desert bighorns roam and golden eagles soar.

The high country of Colorado National Monument rises more than 2,000 feet above the Grand Valley of the Colorado River. Situated at the edge of the Uncompahgre Uplift, the park is part of the greater Colorado Plateau, which also embraces such geologic wonders as the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Arches. It is a semi-desert land of pinion pines and Utah junipers, ravens and jays, desert bighorns and coyotes. Magnificent views from highland trails and the Rim Rock Drive, which winds along the plateau, stretch from the colorful sheer-walled canyons and fascinating rock sculptures to the distant Colorado River valley, the purple-gray Book Cliffs, and the huge flat-topped mountain called Grand Mesa.

In the deep canyons of Colorado National Monument, where vertical cliff walls and great natural rock sculptures tower overhead, the grand scale of the scenery is overpowering. Nowhere is this truer than in Monument and Wedding Canyons, where the giant rock forms of Independence Monument, Pipe Organ, Kissing Couple, Sentinel Spire, and Praying Hands rise from the canyon floor like skyscrapers-in-stone.

But the canyons are places, too, where the cascading song of the canyon wren echoes, where small life-sustaining pools linger after summer rains, where cottonwood trees turn golden in autumn. The canyons can be explored along backcountry trails, on foot, or on horseback. On a slow and quiet journey you might encounter mule deer, desert cottontails, antelope ground squirrels, rock squirrels, chipmunks, lizards, or canyon birds such as pinion jays, white-throated swifts, and rock wrens. Mountain lions, bobcats, midget faded rattlesnakes, and other rare or secretive members of the canyon community are seen less often. In spring and summer cactus, yucca, and other flowering plants bloom by the hundreds, many near springs, along seeps in rock walls, or near canyon pools and intermittent streams. These oases of water are lush compared to the sparse desert scrub life of pinion, juniper, sagebrush, mountain mahogany, and rabbit brush that inhabits the more common arid portions of the canyons.

The majestic Colorado National Monument ...

Colorado National Monument

Source: Tourist site brochure, US Government Printing Office


Video recorded: September 2006
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Site Gallery - Colorado National Monument
 
Colorado National Monument Colorado National Monument Colorado National Monument
Colorado National Monument Colorado National Monument Colorado National Monument
Colorado National Monument Colorado National Monument Colorado National Monument

Cisco Ghost Town

Cisco Ghost Town ** Location of Cisco Ghost Town **

Cisco ... started as a watering stop for the railroad's steam engines in the 1880s. As work crews, and later travelers, came through, stores, hotels and restaurants sprang up to accommodate them. Nearby cattle ranchers, and sheep herders in the Book Cliffs north of town began using Cisco as a livestock and provisioning center.

Around the turn of the century over 100,000 sheep were sheared here before being shipped to market. Then oil and natural gas were discovered. For awhile Cisco was the largest producer in Utah. People began traveling more and Cisco continued to grow. Then the bottom fell out. A declining economy crashed when I-70 came through and by-passed Cisco altogether.

Source: ghosttowns.com


Video recorded: September 2006
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La Sal Loop & Castle Valley

Castle Peak ** Location of La Sal Loop **

From our journal ... Jostling past the horde of cyclists we entered Castle Valley (5,000 ft.) ... to no great surprise, just as congested with cyclists. The valley was narrow and long ... perhaps 12 miles ... just below the lower Porcupine Mountain range. This is ranching country ... mainly cattle. On our left was the regionís namesake icon ... Castle Peak (left, top). We followed this valley until the road turned to County Road 73 and started gaining elevation. Castle ValleySwitchbacks, narrow shoulders and continued bike traffic made for slow going. Near the summit of Bald Mesa (7,200 ft.) we stopped at a viewpoint and glanced back. View was breathtaking - one for the senses (left, bottom). We continued taking this circuitous route ... over Wilson Mesa then South Mesa. The road tuned to gravel ... rough and hard as the breached Brumley Ridge and started our descent ... road was now Country Road 127, La Sal Loop Road . The views from this road were of the Moab Rim in the distance ... part of the rift valley. Then the road was again paved, of adequate condition and devoid of all traffic. Descent was rapid, followed Pack Creek and eventually leveled off in Spanish Valley near Hwy. 191 ... the main southern road to Moab.

More information on La Sal Loop: http://www.go-utah.com/La-Sal-Mountains

Dead Horse State Park

Dead Horse State Park ** Location of Dead Horse SP **

Dead Horse Point State Park ... towering 2,000 feet above the Colorado River this park provides a breathtaking panorama of Canyonlands' sculptured pinnacles and buttes.

The Legend of Dead Horse Point ... according to one legend, the point was once used as a corral for wild mustangs roaming the mesa. Cowboys rounded up these homes, herded them across the narrow neck of land and onto the point. The neck which is only 30 yards wide was then fenced off with branches and brush, creating a natural corral surrounded precipitous cliffs. Cowboys then chose the horses they wanted and, for some reason, left the other horses corralled on the waterless point where they died of thirst within view of the Colorado River, 2,000 feet below.

Geological Sketch ... Dead Horse Point is situated atop a high plateau at an elevation of about 6,000 feet above sea level. From the point, layers of geologic time may be viewed, revealing 300 million years of the earth's geologic history. While standing on the canyon rim, 8,000 feet of geologic strata is visible looking from the peaks of the 12,000-foot high La Sal Mountains to the river below. These rock layers were deposited over the eons by oceans, fresh water and wind as well, as isolated igneous events.

Sediments at the 4,000-foot river level were deposited during the Pennsylvanian period, 300 million years ago. The La Sal Mountains are composed of igneous rocks from an ancient laccolith that formed during the Tertiary period, uplifting caused by continental drift elevated the entire Colorado Plateau by more than one mile. The Colorado River was born during this regional uplift, and has been carving down through the sediments ever since. Erosion continues today as the river winds from the Continental Divide high in the Colorado Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean at the Sea of Cortez (a distance of 1,400 miles) sculpting ancient rock layers into this spectacular panorama.

Dead Horse State Park

Source: Tourist site brochure, State of Utah

Video recorded: September 2006
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Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park ** Location of Canyonlands NP **

Canyonlands National Park ... A Wilderness of Rock ... preserves the heart of the Colorado Plateau. Water and gravity have been the prime architects of this land, cutting flat layers of sedimentary rock into hundreds of canyons, mesas, buttes, fins, arches, and spires. At center stage are two canyons carved by the Green and Colorado rivers. Surrounding the rivers are vast and very different regions: Island in the Sky (north); the Maze (west); and the Needles (east). The areas share a common primitive spirit and wild West atmosphere, each offering its own rewards.

Few people were familiar with these remote lands and rivers when the park was established in 1964. Only Indians, cowboys, river explorers, and uranium prospectors had dared enter this rugged corner of southeastern Utah, but few others did. To a large degree, Canyonlands remains untrammeled today. Its roads are mostly unpaved, its trails primitive, its rivers free-flowing. Bighorn sheep, coyotes, and other native animals roam its 527 square miles. Canyonlands is wild America.

Views from Island in the Sky reach from the depths of the Green and Colorado rivers to the mountaintops and above. They stretch across canyon after canyon to the horizon 100 miles distant. Island in the Sky - a broad mesa wedged between the Green and Colorado - serves as Canyonlands' observation tower. From here you can see vistas of almost incomprehensible dimensions. Closest to the mesa's edge is the White Rim, a nearly continuous sandstone bench 1,200 feet below the Island. Another 1,000 feet beneath White Rim are the rivers, shadowed by sheer canyon cliffs; beyond them lie the Maze and the Needles.

Outside the park's boundary three mountain ranges break the pattern of the flat-topped landscape. To the east rise the La Sals; to the south, the Abajos; to the southwest, the Henrys. Rain that passes by the arid soil of Canyonlands keeps these mountains mantled in forests of pine and fir. On the Island, vegetation is sparser. Oper fields of Indian ricegrass and other grasses and pinyon-juniper forests survive on fewer than 10 inches of rain a year. Coyotes, squirrels, ravens, hawks, and smaller birds share the food of these lands. Cattle and horses once grazed here; abandoned water troughs and fences are reminders of those bygone days.

Geologists would probably single out Upheaval Dome as the oddest geologic feature on Island in the Sky. Measuring 1,500 feet deep, the dome does not look like a dome but rather like a crater. How was Upheaval Dome created? One theory suggests that slowmoving underground salt deposits pushed layers of sandstone upward. A recent theory suggests that the dome was created when a meteor hit. Whatever the origin of the dome, the present-day landform of a jaggededged crater is the result of erosion.

Source: Tourist site brochure, US Government Printing Office

Video recorded: September 2006
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Video recorded: September 2006
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Site Gallery - Canyonlands National Park
 

Canyonlands National Park Canyonlands National Park Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands National Park Canyonlands National Park Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands - Grand View
Canyonlands - Grand View
Canyonlands - Orange Cliffs
Canyonlands - Orange Cliffs
Canyonlands - Salt Dome
Canyonlands - Salt Dome

Arches National Park

Arches National Park ** Location of Arches NP **

Arches National Park ... water and ice, extreme temperatures, and underground salt movement are responsible for the sculptured rock scenery of Arches National Park. On clear days with blue skies, it is hard to imagine such violent forces, or the 100 million years of erosion, that created this land that boasts the greatest density of natural arches in the world. More than 2,000 cataloged arches range in size from a three-foot opening, the minimum considered an arch, to the longest one, Landscape Arch, which measures 306 feet from base to base.

Today, new arches are being formed and old ones are being destroyed. Erosion and weathering are relatively slow but are relentlessly creating dynamic landforms that gradually change through time. Occasionally change occurs more dramatically. In 1991 a slab of rock about 60 feet long, 11 feet wide, and four feet thick fell from the underside of Landscape Arch, leaving behind an even thinner ribbon of rock. Delicate Arch, an isolated remnant of a bygone fin, stands on the brink of a canyon, with the dramatic La Sal Mountains for a backdrop. Towering spires, pinnacles, and balanced rocks perched atop seemingly inadequate bases vie with the arches as scenic spectacles.

American Indians used the area for thousands of years. Archaic people, and later ancestral Puebloan, Fremont, and Utes searched the arid desert for game animals, wild plant foods, and stone for tools and weapons. They also left evidence of their passing on a few pictograph and petroglyph panels. The first white explorers came looking for wealth in the form of minerals. Ranchers found wealth in the grasses for their cattle and sheep. John Wesley Wolfe, a disabled Civil War veteran, and his son, Fred, settled here in the late 1400s. A weathered log cabin, root cellar, and a corral remain as evidence of the primitive ranch they operated for more than 20 years.

The Geologic Story ... the park lies atop an underground salt bed that is basically responsible for the arches, spires, balanced rocks, sandstone fins, and eroded monoliths that make the area a sightseer's mecca. Thousands of feet thick in places, this salt bed was deposited across the Colorado Plateau some 300 million years ago when a sea flowed into the region and eventually evaporated. Over millions of years, the salt bed was covered with residue from floods, winds, and the oceans that came and went. Much of the debris was compressed into rock. At one time this overlying layer of rock may have been more than a mile thick.

Salt under pressure is unstable, and the salt bed below Arches was no match fo the weight of this thick cover of rock. Under pressure, the salt layer shifted, buckled, liquified, and repositioned itself, thrusting the rock layers upward into domes. Whole sections dropped into the cavities. Faults deep in the Earth contributed to the instability on the surface. The resul of one such 2,500-foot displacement, the Moab Fault, is seen from the visitor center. This movement also produced vertical cracks that later contributed to the development of arches. As this subsurface movement of salt shaped the Earth, surface erosion stripped away the younger rock layers.

Except for isolated remnants, the major formations seen in the park today are the salmoncolored Entrada Sandstone, in which most of the arches form, and the buffcolored Navajo Sandstone. These are visible in layer cake fashion in most of the park. Over time water seeped into the superficial cracks, joints, and folds of these layers. Ice formed in the fissures, expanding and putting pressure on surrounding rock and breaking off bits and pieces.

Wind later cleaned out the loose particles. A series of free-standing fins remained. Wind and water attacked these fins until, in some, the cementing material gave way, and chunks of rock tumbled out. Many damaged fins collapsed. Others, with the right degree of hardness and balance, survived despite their missing sections. These became the famous arches. Pothole arches form by chemical weathering as water collects in natural depressions and eventually cuts through to the layer below. This is the geologic story of Arches - probably. The evidence is largely circumstantial.

Source: Tourist site brochure, US Government Printing Office


Video recorded: September 2006
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: If video starts/stops often, PAUSE the playback for 15-30 seconds to allow the video buffer memory to fill. To resume playback press PLAY.

Site Gallery - Arches National Park
 

Arches National Park Arches National Park Arches National Park
Arches National Park Arches National Park Arches National Park
Arches National Park Arches National Park Arches National Park
Arches National Park Arches National Park Arches National Park
Arches National Park Arches National Park Arches National Park
Arches National Park Arches National Park Arches National Park
Arches National Park Arches National Park Arches National Park

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