Canyonlands: Return from Grand View Point
November 1, 2016
In Canyonlands National Park we first drove down to Grand View Point Lookout, the end of the main park road in the Island in the Sky section. As we headed back northward, our first stop was at Orange Cliffs Overlook which was on the left side of the road.
With the long lens I could get a view of quit a length of road through the valley and up the side of this cliff. You can see three vehicles parked up on the little plateau, and could see a bit of the river. Those folks must have had a great view of the river. This road is part of the White Rim Road which we saw from Grand View Point.
This shows the dirt road across the valley floor of the next level down from us, and then the Green River which is down another level in the floor of the canyon complex. The small flat elevated area where the cars are is labeled a "hogback" and there is a small campground there.
This was a view to the northeast from Buck Canyon Overlook on the east side of the park road. You can see the La Sal Mountains. What you cannot see is the Colorado River, which is such a deep cut that it is not visible from up here.
Remarkable to me were these water-filled depressions in the rock on the way to my viewpoint here at Buck Canyon. They were just like the rock depressions on the top of Stone Mountain, Georgia. They may be called spallation ponds - when collected water freezes, it can scale off a bit of rock and gradually develop these depressions in a rock surface. Even though this is sandstone and Stone Mountain is granite, it appears to be the same phenomenon.
This view is centered on Buck Canyon with the La Sal Mountains standing at the horizon. You can just barely see the dirt road skirting the end of the canyon. I was getting a bit of vertigo standing on that point - the viewpoint is labeled 6240ft, and a previous note we saw suggested that the flat area below us was about 1500ft lower. I believe the broad tower at the extreme left is what is named "Airport Tower".
I continued my fascination with this winding dirt road down on that plane of the canyon complex. It skirted the end of Buck Canyon. This is part of the White Rim Road that we saw first from Grand View Point. The other fascinating thing about this view is the view of the Colorado River at points just above the center of the picture and at the extreme right about three quarters of the way up. There are also hints of the river valley winding through the area. This is also a good example of the white rim sandstone around the edges of the Buck Canyon that hardens and defines the edges of the cliffs.
One more shot before I leave my high perch. The Buck Canyon is on the extreme left as I swing toward the southeast. You can see the White Rim Road along the south side of Buck Canyon, and then you can see it reappear on the midline about three quarters of the way over to the right. From there it has to find a way over to the right of this view to get to the south end of the Island in the Sky where we saw it from Grand View Point.
We moved a few minutes north to what I think was the Mesa Arch trailhead. We could still see Buck Canyon and behind Brenda is the formation called Airport Tower.
Back on the road in Island in the Sky, we took the branch off the main road that led to the Green River Overlook.
This is what we saw when we walked up to the overlook. Certainly not optimum viewing conditions! It was cloudy, hazy, and we were looking almost straight into the sun at 6:15 in the afternoon! But it was still dramatic. Note the dirt exploration road that skirts the edge of the canyon on the left.
I didn't see the exploration road on the near edge of the canyon when I shot the picture. But we found that it was consistent with Canyonlands National Park; it is designed for exploration, but you may have to have a four-wheeler or a bicycle.
This gives a little more detail of the road across this particular part of the plateau, and shows a little more detail of this remarkable White Rim Sandstone that contributes strength to the sharp cliff edges.
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