Canyonlands National Park – Island in the Sky

An early start got us into Canyonlands National Park before 8.30a.m, though temperatures were already around 87F (30C)! No prizes for guessing why it’s called ‘Canyonlands’ – this was Shafer Canyon just inside the park:

Shafer Canyon

Photographs struggle to reflect just how stunning the whole area is, especially in terms of it’s size. It’s definately not an area I’d like to get lost in! A little further was Mesa Arch, equally as impressive as those we saw in Arches National Park yesterday:

Mesa Arch

Looking across Buck Canyon, the Colorado River cuts a canyon at the far end, and it’s this river that merges with the Green River from the west to create the island of rock we toured. The Colorado River then continues down to Lake Powell before running through the Grand Canyon.

Buck Canyon

The Grand View Point which looks south to where the two rivers merge gave an awesome impression of the power the rivers have in carving out the landscape. With clear visibility of over 15 miles, it was just canyons cut into the landscape as far as you could see:

Grand View Point

On the west, the Green River winds through the area having flowed right down through Utah from Idaho, and was equally impressive with the Orange Cliffs behind. Looking out across such a desolate area, lush green vegetation grows along the banks of the river in an area that only receives an average of 10 inches per year:

Green River

Holeman Spring Canyon showcased towers of rock eroded by the wind rather than the river, with only a spring running through it:

Holeman Spring

Tucked away in the north east corner of the park lies Upheaval Dome, which is actually a crater. Debate as to whether this was originally a salt dome that collapsed on itself or a crater caused by a meteor is still continuing. At over 2 miles wide, again it was just an awesome sight that doesn’t quite come across on camera:

Upheaval Dome

We managed to start heading back out the park by 12.30p.m, though by 11a.m the temperatures had got back up to 104F (40C) again – early morning starts seem the right way to go as it was both more comfortable walking + driving this morning, and also a lot quieter. Only the last hour or so did we find other cars dotted in the car parks or meet more than one or two people whilst walking around. Later on this afternoon we’re thinking of heading back into Arches to see the Windows section, and having been inspired today, the Needles section of Canyonlands tomorrow 🙂


Senior Content Development for Microsoft writing about Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS). Model train nerd. Occasionally I play video games.

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