Winter in the Desert - 2013 travel blog

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Canyonlands

Canyonlands

Canyonlands

Canyonlands

view from the dirt road

switchback panorama

Canyonlands

Dead Horse Point

Dead Horse Point

Deadhorse Point

mountain goats

switchback road

potash ponds


The Grand Canyon is the big deal. People come from all over the world to see it. The Colorado River has carved it so deeply, from many vantage points you don't even know that the river is there. But the Colorado is busy doing a lot of construction further north, carving through all those layers laid down by an inland sea in Utah eons ago

You can see parts of its handiwork in Dead Horse Point State Park. The river created such deep oxbows that the cowboys used the canyons to corral wild mustangs. They would select the horses they wanted and let the rest go. Legend has it, that one time they forgot to release the horses and they died of thirst a short gallop away from the Colorado. Hope that sad legend isn't true, but it did give the state park its name.

Just outside the park we peered down on huge bright aqua colored ponds. They are a commercial venture on BLM land that manufactures potash which is used as fertilizer. The salts are in the soil and water is pumped into ponds that dissolve it out of the soil and then the water is evaporated. A giant machine that looks like a Zamboni, zips back and forth across the minerally ponds and skims the potash from the surface. Fertilizer is a useful product, but it sure did ruin the views from Dead Horse.

A short drive away is Canyonlands National Park, a park we vividly remember visiting once before and realizing that we needed more time to see it all. What caught our eye is a 4-wheel drive road on the floor of the canyon one hundred miles long. We stood at the overlooks and peered down at those ant sized cars and wondered if it would be fun to try. After getting some local advice, we realize that driving such a lengthy dirt road is not something done in just one day. There are some primitive campgrounds along the way, but you have to bring your own water and everything else including tents and sleeping bags. This is most definitely not a motor home trip. After driving the paved road and peering over the view points, we gave the 4-wheel road a try. There was a piece we could drive that would eventually take us out to the main road and civilization. I'm having a hard time remembering a time when I was more frightened, but Ken loved it. We headed straight down into the canyon about 3,000 feet on a swtich backs without guard rails, loaded with steep boulders and soft sandy spots. Ken and the jeep handled it all with aplomb. I hung on to the door handle and seat belt and tried not to peer over the sides. Ken bought a 4-wheel drive tour routes in the Moab area book today, so I'm guessing I better work on getting over it.

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