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Dates of visit:
July 26, 2013 -
August 3, 2013

We rate this trip a:

Trip Highlights:
 Scenic byways
 Mesa Verde
 Aztec Ruins
 Hiking
 Canyonlands NP
 Arches NP
 Capital Reef
 Bryce Canyon
 Las Vegas
 

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First page - Aztec Ruins NM, Mesa Verde NP, Canyonlands NP
Third page - Kodachrome SP, Bryce Canyon NP, North Rim Grand Canyon, Las Vegas Fremont Street
*** Utah ***
*** Arches National Park ***
*** Hummer Tour of Hell's Revenge Trail ***
*** Capital Reef National Park ***
*** Highway 12 Scenic Drive ***
        Travel Route
        Arches National Park
        Site Gallery - Arches National Park
        Hummer Touring of Hell's Revenge
        Site Gallery - Hell's Revenge Hummer Touring
        Capital Reef National Park
        Site Gallery - Capital Reef National Park
        Highway 12 Scenic Drive
Arches National Park

Arches National ParkThe Story Geologists Tell ... The park lies atop an underground salt bed that is responsible for the arches, spires, balanced rocks, sandstone fins, and eroded monoliths of this mecca for sightseers. Thousands of feet thick in places, this salt bed was deposited across the Colorado Plateau 300 million years ago when a sea flowed into the region and eventually evaporated. Over millions of years, residue from floods, winds, and the oceans that came and went blanketed the salt bed. The debris was compressed as rock, at one time possibly a mile thick.

Map of Arches: Arches National Park

Arches National ParkSalt under pressure is unstable, and the salt bed lying below Arches was no match for the weight of this thick cover of rock. The salt layer shifted, buckled, liquefied, and repositioned itself, thrusting the rock layers upward as domes, and whole sections fell into the cavities. Faults deep in the Earth made the surface even more unstable. You see the result of one 2,500-foot displacement, the Moab Fault, from the visitor center.



Arches National ParkFault-caused vertical cracks later contributed to the development of arches. As the salt's subsurface shifting shaped the Earth, surface erosion stripped off younger rock layers. Except for isolated remnants, today's major formations are salmon-colored Entrada Sandstone, in which most arches form, and buff-colored Navajo Sandstone. They stand like a layer cake over most of the park. Over time water seeped into superficial cracks, joints, and folds. Ice formed in the fissures, expanding and pressuring the rock, breaking off bits and pieces. Wind later cleaned out the loose particles, leaving a series of free-standing fins. Wind and water then attacked these fins until the cementing material in some gave way and chunks of rock tumbled out. Many of these damaged fins collapsed. Others, hard enough and balanced, survived despite missing sections. These became the famous arches. Pothole arches are formed by chemical weathering as water collects in natural depressions and then eventually cuts through to the layer below. This is the geologic story of Arches National Park -probably. The evidence is largely circumstantial.

Arches National ParkWater and ice, extreme temperatures, and underground salt movement are responsible for the sculptured rock scenery of Arches National Park. On clear, blue-sky days it is difficult to imagine such violent forces-or the 100 million years of erosion-that created this land boasting one of the world's greatest densities of natural arches. Over 2,000 cataloged arches range in size from a three-foot opening, the minimum considered an arch, to the longest, Landscape Arch, measuring 306 feet base to base.

Arches National ParkToday new arches are being formed and old ones destroyed. Erosion and weathering work slowly but relentlessly, creating dynamic landforms that gradually change through time. Change sometimes occurs more dramatically. In 1991 a rock slab 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 as backdrop. Towering spires, pinnacles, and balanced rocks-perched atop seemingly inadequate bases-vie with the arches as scenic spectacles here.

Arches National ParkAmerican Indians used this area for thousands of years. The Archaic peoples, and later ancestral Puebloan, Fremont, and Ute peoples, searched the arid desert for food 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 non-Indian explorers came looking for wealth in mineral forms. Ranchers found wealth as grasses for cattle and sheep. Disabled Civil War veteran John Wesley Wolfe and his son Fred settled here in the late 1800s. A weathered log cabin, root cellar, and corral give evidence of the primitive ranch they operated for over 20 years. A visit to Wolfe Ranch is a walk into the past.

Text and graphic source: Arches National Monument Site Brochure, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior
Site Gallery - Arches National Park
Delicate Arch
Delicate Arch Delicate Arch Delicate Arch
Skyline Arch
Skyline Arch Skyline Arch Skyline Arch
Double Arch
Double Arch Double Arch Double Arch

Hummer Touring of Hell's Revenge

Hells Revenge TrailThere's nothing like touring the backcountry of Moab ... especially the sliprocks, fossilized dunes, and steep inclines ... in a heavy duty Hummer. With a trained driver and an evening ride, added to a downpour of rain, this beats sitting in a hotel and contemplating what's out there. Choosing a tour company is important but the ride is the same regardless of who does the driving. Worth the time and expense if you visit Moab infrequently. The only drawback to this ride shown below is that the entire Hell's Revenge Trail was not ridden as the return was from its midpoint. Still, an exhilarating ride.





Hells Revenge Abyss Point
At the "Abyss" view point ...











Video recorded: July 2013
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Site Gallery - Hell's Revenge Hummer Touring
Hummer Tour Hummer Tour Hummer Tour
Hummer Tour Hummer Tour Hummer Tour
Hummer Tour Hummer Tour Hummer Tour
Hummer Tour Hummer Tour Hummer Tour
Capital Reef National Park

Capital ReefCapital Reef National Park ... A giant buckle in Earth's crust stretches across south-central Utah. This vast warping of rock, created 65 million years ago by the same great forces later uplifting the Colorado Plateau, is called the Waterpocket Fold. Capitol Reef National Park preserves the Fold and its eroded jumble of colorful cliffs, massive domes, soaring spires, stark monoliths, twisting canyons, and graceful arches. But the Waterpocket Fold country is more than this. It is also the free-flowing Fremont River and the big desert sky. It is cactus, jay, lizard, jackrabbit, juniper, columbine, and deer. It is a place humans used for thousands of years, from early indigenous peoples to Mormon pioneers. It inspires poets, artists, photographers, and seekers of solitude. The world of the Waterpocket Fold stretches 100 miles-and beyond.


Creation of the Waterpocket Fold (above) ... Many layers of originally horizontal sedimentary rock make up Waterpocket Fold. The layers formed from sediments deposited over hundreds of millions of years in seas, tidal flats, deserts, and other ancient environments. Regional mountain-building bent, or flexed, rock layers into a huge fold. Many upper layers of the ancient fold (restored in the illustration) have eroded away, leaving only a hint of the earlier Waterpocket Fold's enormous size. Wind and water still slowly erode the fold and create new features from the rock.

Capital ReefLife Along the River ... Life is most abundant along the waterways here. American Indians, early pioneers, moisture-loving plants, and animals have found refuge near them. Fremont Culture people lived here by the year 700 until sometime after 1250, growing corn, beans, and squash, and also hunting and gathering food. They left few traces, but the images they painted on (pictographs) or pecked into (petroglyphs) canyon walls can still be seen. Explorers, Mormon pioneers, and others began coming to the Fremont River valley in the late 1800s.

Travel beyond the valley meant going over rough Waterpocket Fold terrain. Capitol Gorge, a rocky route, cut through the Fold. Names of the canyon's travelers after 1871 fill a rock wall called the Pioneer Register. No more than 10 families at a time called the valley home, but by the early 1900s, the Mormon community of Fruita was known for its productive orchards. Capitol Reef National Monument, established in 1937, became a national park in 1971. Farm families eventually moved on: Fruita's last private resident left in 1968.

Today, cottonwoods, willows, and ash populate the Fremont River corridor as a green ribbon dotted with wildflowers in spring. Water attracts birds, from mountain bluebirds to migratory ducks, and mammals, from marmots to mule deer. Away from water, a harsher desert environment dominates. At Capitol Reef you can explore the park's diverse landscapes and micro-habitats.

Fremont River TrailUnpaved roads penetrate remote backcountry once known to the hardy few. They offer properly outfitted travelers access to wild beauty. In expanses like Cathedral Valley, golden eagles soar and solitary sandstone monoliths tower over sandy desert plains. In the secluded canyons like Halls Creek Narrows, hanging gardens of monkey flower and maidenhair fern grace canyon walls. Many roads afford panoramic vistas. On Burr Trail Road the views grow ever more breathtaking as you ascend the Waterpocket Fold. On backcountry roads or trails Capitol Reef National Park is yours to enjoy.

This desert environment gets less than eight inches of rain per year, but danger awaits the unprepared. Flash floods can occur any time but are most common when late summer thunderstorms send raging torrents down otherwise dry, sandy washes. Twisted, stunted ju-niper and piiion trees and other hardy plants dot the landscape. Many plants and animals, like saltbush, kangaroo rats, lizards, and cactuses, are adapted to survive despite scarce water. Some collect and store water; others conserve it; some do both. Many animals move about only at night to escape the heat of the day, leaving the casual observer to underestimate the richness of animal life in the seemingly inhospitable desert.

Rainwater sometimes pools in eroded, bowl-like rock depressions-the landscape's namesake waterpockets. Bighorn sheep, bobcats, and other animals quench their thirst at these water holes. Spadefoot toads live and reproduce in waterpockets. Their eggs laid in the water hatch within days after a rainstorm. Tadpoles that reach adulthood before the pool dries up will repeat the cycle when the pool fills again. And life in the Waterpocket Fold country goes on.

Text and 'Waterpocket Image' source: Capital Reef National Park brochure, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior,
Site Gallery - Capital Reef National park
Fremont River Walk Trail
Fremont River Fremont River Fremont River
Gooseneck Point
Gooseneck Point Gooseneck Point Gooseneck Point
Highway 12 Scenic Drive

Highway 12 RouteAlong Scenic Byway 12, you will be exposed to rolling slickrock, variegated buttes and mesas, snaking canyons, and rock walls varnished with mineral stains. You may see hawks, eagles, and vultures soaring overhead; deer or elk grazing in a high alpine meadow; or even an elusive coyote slipping furtively through a patch of rabbit brush. Around each bend, there are surprises: wind- and water-shaped towers and ramparts as ornate as medieval castles; dense forests of aspen and fir that yield to grassy meadows; mingled scents of pinyon or sagebrush that define the open spaces of the American Southwest; and turbulent storms that spill over distant vistas, painting the formerly blue sky an indescribable shade of purple.

Fortunately, this rich trove of scenery along Scenic Byway 12 belongs to each of us. Most of the lands surrounding the byway are public, meaning they are owned by the American people and managed by different federal and state agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, and Utah State Parks. Each agency's mission differs, but all share a common objective of caring for the lands and protecting them for future generations to enjoy.

Dixie National Forest Dixie National Forest, at almost two million acres and stretching from east to west for approximately 170 miles across southern Utah, is the state's largest national forest. Scenic Byway 12 weaves in and out of Dixie National Forest - The Dixie - three times, crossing three ranger districts: the Powell District to the west, the Escalante District in the middle, and the Teasdale District to the east. The Dixie provides a backdrop for much of the byway's length, as it reaches its highest point of 11,322 feet at Blue Bell Knoll on Boulder Mountain, between the towns of Boulder and Torrey.

Staircase-EscalanteGirand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is a flagship unit of the National Landscape Conservation System, one of the nation's newest conservation initiatives, which is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. This 1.9 million-acre monument was set aside in 1996 to preserve its wide open spaces and intact ecosystems that allow for a treasure trove of scientific opportunities. It is surrounded by national parks, wilderness areas, national forests, state parks, and additional BLM public lands, that when combined, make up one of the largest publicly managed land masses in the lower 48 states.

Staircase-EscalanteThe Monument's spectacular scenery is made up of three distinct regions: the Grand Staircase, the Kaiparowits Plateau, and the Canyons of the Escalante. Extending across the southwest corner of the Monument, the Grand Staircase is a series of massive geological steps that descend toward the Grand Canyon in Arizona. The five cliff formations-Pink, Gray, White, Vermilion, and Chocolate-are classic examples of biological diversity, spanning five different life zones and harboring a surprising array of birds, mammals, and plants. The Kaiparowits Plateau is the Monument's central section. A massive, isolated region of mesas and canyons, the Kaiparowits is rich in Native American archaeological sites and paleontologi-cal resources. The Canyons of the Escalante are a series of labyrinthine canyons through sandstone that feed the Escalante River as it makes its way to the Colorado River.

Light and shadow play out here on a grand tableau, enormous blue skies stretch into eternity overhead, and rock is a constant. Where water is present in this arid land, there are signs of life: cougar tracks, insects skating across potholes, swallows nesting in an alcove. Regardless of which region of the Monument you visit, this is a land of silence, space, and scenery that defies description and inspires the imagination.

Text source: A Route Guide to Scenic Byway 12, Produced by the Scenic Byway 12 Foundation www.scenicbyway12.


Video recorded: July 2013
HINT
: 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.

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