We've never done the Maze district but I've been doing a lot of research on it and it's up near the top of my long to-do list. My mind is a little cluttered but off the top of my head I want to see the Great Gallery, do some jeeping to the Doll House, and do some hikes. The Chocolate Drops ring a bell for a hike but I know there are others.
I also want to give time to the Grand Staircase-Escalante NM, specifically the Coyote Gulch hike and a couple of the slot canyons (think it was Spooky and some of the nearby ones).
Capitol Reef is another that I need to properly visit. I want to drive Cathedral Valley and camp by the Temples of the Moon and Sun and do some sunset/rise and night photography of them, hike Muley Twist, and Capitol Gorge.
nycboy - There are many native American sites that have arachaeoastronomical significance, including some (if not many) in NY and the northeast in general. I was involved with archaeological organizations when I lived in Boston and worked with some of the native tribes in my area studying such sites. I have a friend who is The Director of the Center of Archaeoastronomy (which makes him one of the smartest guys in the world on this topic) so I am quite familiar with this subject and Chaco Canyon is well known in this aspect.
I'm very jealous, would love to know more. I've really taken a liking to the culture and want to incorporate seeing the ruins on future trips and it would be nice to know more about them before visiting. Can your friend recommend any books or guides for this area?
And yes, Sedona, we'll have to take a trip out that way some time.
That's some incredible photography on the previous page, NYCcouple! If I'd been in the car, though, I'd have had my eyes too tightly squinched shut to enjoy the scenery.
What's the Maze district, please?
Also, what are the towns like where you all stay when going out to visit these parks? Charming examples of southwest small town culture? Featureless strips of motels?
All of the above, and I'll do my best to describe them in my next post.
To answer your first question the Maze district is one of the three districts that Canyonlands National Park is divided into by the two rivers that form a "Y" at its heart.
The top portion is Island in the Sky and it is the most visited. It is quite literally an island in the sky, as it's a plateau that sits at 6,000 ft of elevation and is more than 2,000 feet above the the rivers. It's characterized by massive cliffs and vistas, as it is divided vertically into three levels; the river, the White Rim (1k ft up), and the Island at the top (2k ft up). My advice for visiting is to get a vehicle with some clearance and make your way down off of the island, it really give you more perspective rather than one incomprehensible view after another you'll get at the top. (same applies to the Grand Canyon)
The Needles is the lower right portion, it has many needle like rock pinnacles allover it's labyrinth of canyons. Not quite as vast as Island but beautiful in its own right. Most of the good hikes require an overnight trip or a pretty extreme 4x4 ride over Elephant hill. Chesler Park and the Joint Trail are favorites.
The Maze district in the lower left is the most remote, least visited, and has the least amount of trails for vehicles. It really is just a maze of canyons which you'll get an idea if you take a tour through google earth. There are notable indian petroglyphs, perhaps some of the oldest on the continent if my mind isn't failing me.
About the towns, yes, we've stayed in some nice ones with wonderful little art and photo galleries. I always end up bringing home a little sculpture or ceramic from a local artist. We've had some terrific meals, and best of all, had some great experiences just talking with locals and fellow travelers. All the friendly, interesting people we have encountered are certainly part of the fun of travel.
Even after seeing all the photos of almost unbelievable terrain, outcroppings, etc. you all have shown, it's still hard to imagine the vastness and variety you describe in #93. I think everyone who's seen this thread now wants to visit the southwest in person.
Lovely to read that old-fashioned friendliness and local character still prevail in parts of the US>
Bix, one thing that amazes me out there is on a clear day (and most of them are) you can drive for four or five hours and pull off at a high viewpoint and be able to see where you came from. For instance, from the top of Boulder Mountain you can see NE to the LaSals which are on the other side of Moab or SE to Navajo Mt which is down towards Arizona.
Post by frenchmystiquetour on Oct 19, 2011 20:03:23 GMT
I don't know that I'll ever make it back there but thanks for letting me live vicariously through your photos and stories. It is truly my favorite part of the U.S. and I've only seen a very tiny fraction of it. I wish I had a book I could recommend to you on the topic of archaeoastronomy and Chaco Canyon but I'm afraid I don't. You might try poking around this website:
It might give you some leads. I saw my friend John Carlson's name mentioned as the editor of this magazine. Next time I'm in e-mail contact with him I'll ask him for some books to recommend. This link appears to be his website:
Here's a few more pics. This is my sis-in-law standing on Musselman Arch, on the White Rim Trail in Canyonlands (so named because the red sandstone has been bleached white by the sun). The arch is a wide, thick slab of slab of stone and perfectly safe to walk on; however, one misstep will send you plunging 60 feet below.
Here is a random rock that my father-in-law is very kindly moving out of the way.
This is the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Navajo Mountain in the background is pretty big, because this photo was taken 70 miles away.
And here is some dirt that was so baked that I could pick it up like little puzzle pieces.
NYCBoy, you describe perfectly the clarity and vastness of the southwest.
Yay -- more pictures!
I was admiring the first one, with the gorgeous background and that ominous sky plus the golden light. The light seems to gather around the girl and her golden hair. That, plus her stance makes it look as though she's being beamed up.
Then I noticed that I hadn't scrolled the picture all the way up. When I did ~~ ORP! Major vertigo exacerbated by finally reading the text over the picture and then looking at the non-beamed-up brave blonde casually strolling over certain death.
They're all such cool pictures -- the mighty man & that lunar landscape with the mountains in the distance; the dreamlike scene of Navajo mountain; and the stark reality of the baked earth.
nyc girl & boy, Not being at all familiar with this part of the United States, I'm really enjoying this thread. The colors, the shapes of the formations (yes, even the ones that require you to edit out your friend's face!) and the vastness of the land are overwhelming. Bixaoreliana's observation about the photo of your sister-in-law is spot on. There's something other worldly about your pictures.
FMT, Thanks for including the links for the websites with additional information about archaeastronomy. That was a new term for me so I was happy that I didn't have to google it.
Thank you, too, Sojoh! By the way, I haven't commented on your blog lately, but I really enjoyed reading about your Boston trip. It looks like you had a fun and action-packed visit. Makes me want to see it again. I've only been there for one weekend years ago.
Bix, forgot I was going to give you a description of the towns
Moab (for Arches, Canyonlands, Dead Horse SP and Moab attractions): This is one of the biggest towns near any of the NPs, it's main industry being tourism. It's nestled in a large fault that crosses the Colorado River which passes to it's north. There are cliffs up to 1,000 ft on either side of town making it a very nice view.
The center of town is laid out in a grid and is walkable. The town is not at all quaint but it does have an energy about it as it's very much geared to support the needs of the active, many of which are doing the extreme; climbing, rafting, canyoneering, base jumping, jeeping, mountain biking... you name it. There are expensive and secluded accommodations outside of town but I like staying in-town so I can have a few beers after a long day of whatever and walk "home".
The entrance to Arches is 5 minutes N, Canyonlands for Island in the Sky district and Dead Horse SP is maybe 45 min N, and Canyonlands for the Needles district is 55min to the S.
There are two wildly scenic roads that follow the river upstream (rt 128) and downstream (rt 279) which hold their own things to see (I'll probably repeat this but there are many extraordinary things to see OUTSIDE the NPs). Upstream you can find the Fisher Towers, Castle Valley, Negro Bill Canyon, rafting start points, and more. Downstream has some dinosaur footprints (there's better ones N of town), ancient indian art, Corona Arch (it's massive), and a couple wild dirt roads that can gain you access to DH and Canyonlands' I in the S.
Just to the E of town is the Sand Flats Recreation area and the famed Slick Rock Bike Trail and plenty of jeep trails (which are pretty much in every direction). Directly W of town is more jeep trails and Behind the Rocks wilderness study area which is a labyrinth of canyons and domes.
Wow that is a lot more than I intended to write just for one town, guess I really do miss it. Maybe my wife can find some pics of the town and nearby sites to break things up before I do the next town?
Oh, don't worry about the town pictures, if you don't have them. NYCBoy's description would whet anyone's desire to see that town, plus it has lots of useful info. And I'm sure all of your pictures are interesting.
That map is an incredible resource, NYCBoy, and a super idea. I went by the southernmost features marked on your map on my recent trip, but was in the car with my brother. He's always in drive-we-must mode.
Here is Dead Horse State Park, where you can enjoy scenic views of Canyonlands and the surrounding country. Dead Horse Point, located 2,000 feet about the Colorado River, is a promontory that was used as a natural corral where cowboys would drive wild mustangs. According to legend, on one occasion the cowboys drove a herd of mustangs there, picked the choice ones, and supposedly left the fence open for the rest of them to leave. However, the horses did not find their way out and died of thirst there.
Regardless of the legend, Dead Horse has a special place in my heart because it is where my husband proposed. I had wandered over to a pedestal-like rock and sat down by myself, just swinging my feet and taking in the view. He came and sat down next to me and said he had another surprise (the trip itself had been a surprise). I was so clueless that when he dropped to one knee, I said "What are you doing?" It wasn't until he actually pulled out the ring and asked the question that I actually realized what was going on. I said yes, of course.
The Dead Horse picture is truly breathtaking -- it looks like the beginning of the world!
And of course I felt like applauding when I read the caption for the second picture. Soooo romantic, NYCBoy. *sigh* And excellent decision on your part, NYCGirl. Thanks so much for this peek into a lovely moment.
Thanks! He did a good job, it was very romantic. We just celebrated our 4th anniversary.
Speaking of helicopters, the final scene in Thelma and Louise, featuring helicopters, police cars, and a climatic swan-dive into the canyon, was filmed in Dead Horse. In the movie, Dead Horse is the stand-in for the Grand Canyon.
nycgirl & boy, Congratulations on your 4th anniversary. Is that a photo of the actual proposal or a re-enactment? I'm caught up in the romance of the moment and imaging how the two of you must have felt. All of your photos make me think that a person would probably feel rather insignificant surrounded by the vastness of the Southwest - but joined together with a loved one you can face the world. Bravo, nycboy for selecting such a meaningful spot to propose. And nycgirl, I'm glad that you accepted - you seem like a very good match for each other.
Thanks, Sojoh! I love the way you put it. It is absolutely thrilling to be there with a loved one.
This photo is a reenactment, although his sister was with us and in on the surprise and actually took photos from a distance while it was happening. But we needed to take better photos after the fact. The photo is still pretty spontaneous, though, otherwise I would have worn a better outfit and maybe ran a comb through my hair.
I don't want to leave out the animals and critters of the Southwest. Watching them go about their lives was very entertaining, like having our own personal live nature show.
This is the Pronghorn, a relative to antelope. It's the second fastest land mammal in the world and can reach speeds close to 60 mph. It can even maintain fast speeds longer than a cheetah can.
These little fauns are mule deer, named for their huge ears. The mama deer was nearby and did a good job protecting them. While we were watching, she chased away a very daring little fox that was following them.
One of many lizards.
We saw lots of domestic beauties as well.
We had some other great sightings that we didn't get good pictures of. We saw many beautiful species of birds, from hummingbirds to bald eagles to California condors. We saw lots of little cottontail rabbits and big bounding jackrabbits. It was a real treat when we occasionally spotted the shockingly sure-footed bighorn sheep scaling the rock walls. And on the last trip, we spotted a few different snakes, some of them quite big. They weren't a bother, though, they were just sunbathing and wanted get away as soon as they saw us.
Well, I think that's all for now, until we get to go again.