Thursday, June 10, 2010

Mega road trip - Day 8

For our final day in Moab, we drove north to I-70, west, and then south on UT-24 to get to the other side of Canyonlands National Park.  This is a remote area called the San Rafael Swell and formed during the Laramide Orogeny (Cretaceous - Tertiary Periods) at the same time much of the Rocky Mountains formed.

Deep, ancient basement rocks were pushed up along faults and folded the sedimentary rocks above them into an upward arching fold - an anticline.  Erosion then sculpted the area into a rugged landscape of canyons.

We first visited Little Wildhorse Canyon - a great hike through a slot canyon.  We didn't do the 8 mile round trip through Little Wild Horse and Bell Canyon (we have two 9-year-olds and it was 95+ F out) but did hike a couple of miles up the canyon and back.

Here are a few of the many pictures I have...

This is not a road, it's a dry stream bed (arroyo)

The narrows begin

Differential erosion & scalloped rocks

That's me ahead in the winding slot canyon

Large rock wedged in the slot canyon

You can imagine how bad it would be to get caught in this canyon during a summer thunderstorm.  Some of the scallops on the rock wall are 20 feet up in the narrow parts of the canyon.  Read an account of careless hikers here (there's no excuse to ignore the weather when you enter slot canyons).

After the slot canyon, we drove the short distance over the Goblin Valley State Park.  Neat hoodoos that you can walk around and explore...

The Goblins

Closer up

This one looks like a Chinese pagoda

It's fun to drive across the landscape out there and be able to recognize the different rock units - Entrada Sandstone, Morrison Formation, Navajo Sandstone, etc.  They really stand out well and are easy to distinguish from one another.

Distinctive rock units in Wild Horse Mesa at Goblin Valley

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