100 Days of National Parks: Day 48 – One of Us, Canyonlands National Park

One of Us

One of the coolest parts of the Joint Trail in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park isn’t the narrow slot canyon itself, but rather the hundreds of stone cairns that litter the canyon walls and floor. Like a village of small rock piles, you walk through the narrow canyon and feel compelled to add to the pile, so to speak. Soon, you’re on your hands and knees, stacking progressively smaller stones atop one another, trying to get as many as possible to balance before stepping away with the satisfaction of a job well done.

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One of Us

 

One of Us
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One of the coolest parts of the Joint Trail in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park isn’t the narrow slot canyon itself, but rather the hundreds of stone cairns that litter the canyon walls and floor.  Like a village of small rock piles, you walk through the narrow canyon and feel compelled to add to the pile, so to speak.  Soon, you’re on your hands and knees, stacking progressively smaller stones atop one another, trying to get as many as possible to balance before stepping away with the satisfaction of a job well done.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 48 – One of Us, Canyonlands National Park”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 28 – Orion Under Owachomo Bridge, Natural Bridges N.M.

Orion Under Owachomo Bridge

Some places reward the extra effort it takes to reach them. Tucked in the middle of nowhere in southeast Utah, Natural Bridges National Monument is fifty miles from the nearest town, making it a destination not often traveled to unless explicitly targeted. In fact, for many decades since its establishment in 1904 as Utah’s first National Monument, it was almost inaccessible, with the only route to the Park a three-day ride from Blanding, to the east. While a state highway passes near it today, it’s easily bypassed, though doing so would be a huge mistake.

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Orion Under Owachomo Bridge

Orion Under Owachomo Bridge
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Some places reward the extra effort it takes to reach them.  Tucked in the middle of nowhere in southeast Utah, Natural Bridges National Monument is fifty miles from the nearest town, making it a destination not often traveled to unless explicitly targeted.  In fact, for many decades since its establishment in 1904 as Utah’s first National Monument, it was almost inaccessible, with the only route to the Park a three-day ride from Blanding, to the east.  While a state highway passes near it today, it’s easily bypassed, though doing so would be a huge mistake.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 28 – Orion Under Owachomo Bridge, Natural Bridges N.M.”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 26 – Mather Point Sunrise, Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon Sunrise

In many ways, there’s no better place to get up early and watch the sunrise than on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. There’s something refreshingly peaceful about the feeling of waking up at 5am and heading out into the dark to one of the many points overlooking the black vastness of the canyon below, and settling to watch as morning light slowly warms the eastern horizon.

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Mather Point Sunrise

Grand Canyon Sunrise
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In many ways, there’s no better place to get up early and watch the sunrise than on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  There’s something refreshingly peaceful about the feeling of waking up at 5am and heading out into the dark to one of the many points overlooking the black vastness of the canyon below, and settling to watch as morning light slowly warms the eastern horizon.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 26 – Mather Point Sunrise, Grand Canyon”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 21 – Arguing Old Men, Canyonlands

I’m a big fan of the pareidolia effect, seeing familiar patterns where they don’t exist, like seeing shapes in the clouds, or faces in tortillas. Walking through the spires and rock formations of Canyonlands’ Needles District, I find it impossible not to do this, as around every corner, there seems to be some new, alien rock formation that seems impossible to have been created on this planet.

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Arguing Old Men

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I’m a big fan of the pareidolia effect, seeing familiar patterns where they don’t exist, like seeing shapes in the clouds, or faces in tortillas.  Walking through the spires and rock formations of Canyonlands’ Needles District, I find it impossible not to do this, as around every corner, there seems to be some new, alien rock formation that seems impossible to have been created on this planet.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 21 – Arguing Old Men, Canyonlands”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 12 – At the Goblin Gates, Olympic National Park

The Goblin Gates of the Elwha River in Olympic National Park are fairly easily accessible, located just a few miles from the Whiskey Bend Trailhead in the northern part of the park. This dramatic start of the Elwha Gorge is breathtaking in person, as the narrow gap in the rocks funnels the river past in a rushing torrent, the swirling waters outside the “Gates” a dizzying eddy in the impressive, and important, river.
A few miles downstream from this spot, the Elwha passes through another, far deeper canyon, Glines Canyon, where the biggest dam removal project in U.S. history was completed in 2014, allowing access to critical spawning grounds for several species of salmon. This proved to be one of the most important ecological victories of the conservation movement in recent memory, and a testament to the importance of clear waterways. Since the dam’s removal, there has been a significant rise in spawning salmon and trout populations, and the ensuing increase in biodiversity has been directly linked to the removal of the dam. More information about the removal can be found here.
I look forward to my next trip up the Elwha, perhaps later this spring when the melting snow higher in the mountains pushes the flow through the canyon to its heights. It’s really an impressive place, and just one of many spectacular sights in the Olympic Wilderness.

At the Goblin Gates

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The Goblin Gates of the Elwha River in Olympic National Park are fairly easily accessible, located just a few miles from the Whiskey Bend Trailhead in the northern part of the park. This dramatic start of the Elwha Gorge is breathtaking in person, as the narrow gap in the rocks funnels the river past in a rushing torrent, the swirling waters outside the “Gates” a dizzying eddy in the impressive, and important, river.

A few miles downstream from this spot, the Elwha passes through another, far deeper canyon, Glines Canyon, where the biggest dam removal project in U.S. history was completed in 2014, allowing access to critical spawning grounds for several species of salmon.  This proved to be one of the most important ecological victories of the conservation movement in recent memory, and a testament to the importance of clear waterways.  Since the dam’s removal, there has been a significant rise in spawning salmon and trout populations, and the ensuing increase in biodiversity has been directly linked to the removal of the dam.  More information about the removal can be found here.

I look forward to my next trip up the Elwha, perhaps later this spring when the melting snow higher in the mountains pushes the flow through the canyon to its heights.  It’s really an impressive place, and just one of many spectacular sights in the Olympic Wilderness.