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Canyonlands National Park
Sunday, January 7, 2001
After breakfast, we return to Arches National Park to see some more arches we had not seen the day before. First, we hike to a viewpoint from where we can see Delicate Arch from the other side - across a deep canyon. Only here it became obvious that the arch is actually sitting on the edge of a sheer cliff - quite impressive. We also drive by Sandstone Arch, which is hidden among huge rock fins, and Broken Arch, which has a visible crack through the middle.
Then, we drive to the Windows Section of the park. Here, we see three big arches in one short hike. The North and South Window are two big holes in the same rock, a few hundred yards apart. Right next to them, Turret Arch is an arch that is much taller than wide. Finally, we walk to the Double Arch - actually, two arches standing at a 60° angle and joined at one end (this is where the opening sequence for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was shot, by the way :-). We can almost walk underneath the arch, which gives us some great perspectives for photos.
After this, we leave Arches and drive on to the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park. Since we only have three hours before sunset, we just drive along the scenic road and stop at the viewpoints. Those viewpoints offer awesome sights, though: The Island in the Sky is a vast, high plateau that with vertical, rugged cliffs that overlook a second plateau hundreds of feet below - and in that second plateau, the Colorado river has carved a chaotic system of canyons. The contours of the rocks, cliffs and canyon walls are accentuated by the snow, so from the Grand View Point, we can see the formations in much more contrast than usually.
Next, we visit Mesa Arch, a rather flat arch at the edge of the plateau that overlooks the valley below. Then, we drive to the Upheaval Dome, a big crater structure in the west of the park. It's not known whether the crater was caused by the collapse of a washed-out underground salt chamber or a meteor impact, but it certainly is impressive! We walk all the way to a viewpoint on a mountain ridge jutting out into the crater, offering an awesome view.
Finally, we drive to Green River Overlook to see the sunset. From the viewpoint, we can see for miles over the rugged and torn terrain below right up to the horizon, where the sun is setting behind a mountain range. The whispy bands of clouds and the condensation trails of airplanes flying high above make a great colored pattern in the sky. Speaking of airplanes - the sky is so big and the air so clear here that at one time we can see 11 con trails at once!
After sunset, we return to Moab for a last night, this time in a Super 8 motel. Our plans for the next days will depend on the weather - looks like our luck with perfectly blue skies is slowly running out: By the end of the week, Utah is supposed to experience snow and rain :-( We'll see...
|© 2001-2003 Matthias Book (Text), Nils Grunwald (Photos)|