Our second day in Moab took us to Canyonlands National Park. This park is located about 31 miles west of Moab. What amazed us about this country was the fact that we traveled over grassland plateaus and then we would come upon this most magnificent rock canyon. As we entered the park, we stopped at a place called Mesa Arch. This was a hike, but well worth the trip. We walked right up to this arch and could actually have gotten on the top of if we were brave enough. NOT! The sun shone through this arch and was absolutely beautiful. We then drove out to Upheaval Dome. Most of the attractions in both parks require hiking to so we started off to find Upheaval Dome. This was a steep climb and a little strenuous as we were at 6000 feet. We reached the first viewpoint for this Dome and decided not to continue further. This Dome is quite a large ground depression that then had rock push up from the bottom of a crater. There are two theories on how this happened. One being that a meteor hit the earth, caused the crater and then over time the earth pushed back up. Two, that the original large sea covered this area which is made up of a large amount of salt that over time through heat and evaporation, pushed up the earth in this depression. Whatever caused this, the colors are very different from the rest of the canyon.
Our next stop was Holman Springs Overlook which gave us a view of the Green River canyon. This gave us a look at a canyon in actually two levels.
We then traveled to the furthest point in the park called Grand View Point Overlook. This gave us about a 270 degree view of this canyon with the Colorado River on one side and the Green River on the other. This was just breathtaking. Near the bottom of the canyon we watched as cars traversed a dirt road that the Park Ranger told us would take about 14 hours to complete if one wanted to travel the whole road. This was about 2000 feet below us.
We made several other stops along the way back out of the park with other canyon overlooks.
We had one more major stop to make and that was Dead Horse State Park on our way back out on SR 313. While this is not a National Park, it is run just like Arches and Canyonlands. From Dead Horse Point, elevation about 6,000 feet, we could see layers of geologic history. These rock layers were deposited over time by oceans, fresh water and isolated volcanic events. According to legend, the point was once used as a corral for wild mustangs roaming the mesa. Cowboys rounded up these horses, 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. Cowboys then chose the horses they wanted and for reasons unknown, left the rest to die on this waterless point. Not a happy thought!!!! The sight is awesome, but the history leaves one shaking their head.
From the Visitor Center we were able to see several ponds that were very white and blue in color. In researching, we discovered there is a lot of potash in these rocks. To mine this, caves or underground tunnels are flooded and the water is pumped up into these ponds and left to evaporate. Once this is accomplished they scrape the mineral with dozers and haul to processing facility where it is then railed out. This product is potassium chloride and we use as fertilizer.
We enjoyed our lunch up here amongst the beauty of this land and God's wonderful work of art!