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Thin mesa looks like a volcano, Canyonlands national park, UT
8th May 2008
Canyonlands - The Needles; drive to Capitol Reef

Canyonlands park is split into two main parts.  Today I visited the second half, the needles district, so-called because its prominent geological features are multi-coloured vertical needle-shaped formations.  It's such a huge park, it is 40 miles from the main road to the visitor centre! The cop-out parts - the parts that may be seen on a half-mile loop from the various parking lots - were not quite so impressive as the north half.  One very interesting thing was an old camp in an alcove.  It's believed that the Ancient Cowboy peoples used this as a base.  These were a rare breed of near-solitary nomadic people, commonly thought to have used horses in their daily work.  The only direct descendents of Cowboys are what are known today as Used Car Salesmen.

I hiked for about 10 miles, over incredibly difficult terrain.  It was well worth it though, the view in the isolated parts of the park were stunning. I trekked though the needles (rather than just seeing them in the distance from the road like the cop-out trails show one) and into a large garden that should have been called the mushroom field, for it was full of huge mushroom domes. The perimeter of this area was entirely needles, as you can
see in the 360-degree panorama video I have placed in the 'my videos' section.

After leaving the park I drove the scenic route, via the tiny Natural Bridges national monument (featuring 3 water-etched arches, not eroded arches, known as natural bridges) to the tip of Capitol Reef national park.  This was perhaps the best drive yet:  5 hours though the most impressive roadside scenery yet. Deep canyons, high mesas, lush rivers at the bottom of valleys walled by sheer red rocks, crossing the Colorado river at sunset, moving into grey rocky areas where there was not a single plant for miles, along long straight roads with mesas on the horizon (just out of a film).....  wonderful.  This part of the world is easily the most beautiful I have ever seen in my many miles of global travels. 

I'm currently in a cabin in the one-horse town or Torrey.  It used to be a hostel but now it's just an RV park.  My cabin is not quite what I had in mind:  it's more of a shed.  A shed with a bed and and TV in, nothing else.  It's really remote here, on the drive up I must have passed maybe 20 or 30 cars in 300 miles.


NB I will title the photos when I can - the wifi in the shed is really bad and I have no DNS access. 

Next: Capitol Reef national park, scenic route 12
Previous: Canyonlands national park, Utah

Diary Photos

Thin mesa looks like a volcano, Canyonlands national park, UT

Cowboy camp, Canyonlands national park, UT

Cowboy camp, Canyonlands national park, UT

Landscape, Canyonlands national park, UT

View on hike, Canyonlands national park, UT

Needles, Canyonlands national park, UT

Mushroom field, Canyonlands national park, UT

Mushroom field details, Canyonlands national park, UT

How arches form, Canyonlands national park, UT

Sunset over the Colorado river, UT

Sunset over the Colorado river, UT

Sunset over the Colorado river, UT

Hite, Utah

Sunset over the Colorado river, UT

Utah`s flies are fewer

Mount doom at dusk, UT

Easiest check-in ever

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