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 9 – Downstream Subway, Zion National Park

Downstream Subway

The Subway in Zion National Park is one of the most alien, spectacular places I’ve ever been. Tucked back along the Left Fork of North Creek as it cuts through the Kolob Plateau, this short section of slot canyon creeps up on you gradually. As you trudge upstream through the creek, up increasingly more epic cascades and waterfalls, along sandstone slick with algae and dead leaves, the canyon walls narrow, until you turn around a bend to the mouth of this amazing place.
I’ve only been up from the downstream trailhead, and it’s one of my goals in life to become proficient enough in repelling that I can tackle the descent from the upstream access point, as I’ve heard the technical section of the canyon is one of the most epic sights you can see in the U.S.

Adding to the specialness of this place is the fact that it is only accessible with a permit from the Visitor Center Backcountry desk, either through lottery or a day in advance. While they only allow 12 groups to enter the canyon each day, I’ve found it easy enough to get a first-come-first-served permit by camping out in front of the Visitor Center entrance and getting in right as they open the doors. Sadly, this is likely not an option in summer months, but it’s absolutely worth a shot, as the experience of being in this section of Zion National Park is a highlight of the park and the southwest in general.

Downstream Subway

Downstream Subway
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The Subway in Zion National Park is one of the most alien, spectacular places I’ve ever been.  Tucked back along the Left Fork of North Creek as it cuts through the Kolob Plateau, this short section of slot canyon creeps up on you gradually.  As you trudge upstream through the creek, up increasingly more epic cascades and waterfalls, along sandstone slick with algae and dead leaves, the canyon walls narrow, until you turn around a bend to the mouth of this amazing place.

I’ve only been up from the downstream trailhead, and it’s one of my goals in life to become proficient enough in repelling that I can tackle the descent from the upstream access point, as I’ve heard the technical section of the canyon is one of the most epic sights you can see in the U.S.

Adding to the specialness of this place is the fact that it is only accessible with a permit from the Visitor Center Backcountry desk, either through lottery or a day in advance.  While they only allow 12 groups to enter the canyon each day, I’ve found it easy enough to get a first-come-first-served permit by camping out in front of the Visitor Center entrance and getting in right as they open the doors.  Sadly, this is likely not an option in summer months, but it’s absolutely worth a shot, as the experience of being in this section of Zion National Park is a highlight of the park and the southwest in general.

Sandstone Cathedral

The American Southwest has always inspired me, visually and creatively, in a way unlike any other part of the country. I’ve never been a religious man, but if ever I’ve found a place that made me feel more spiritually connected to it, I surely don’t remember it. Every year I try and get out to explore and wander through the red-rock deserts of the Colorado Plateau, each time trying to find something new, some place where I can reconnect, recharge, and respark my creative engine.

The American Southwest has always inspired me, visually and creatively, in a way unlike any other part of the country.  I’ve never been a religious man, but if ever I’ve found a place that made me feel more spiritually connected to it, I surely don’t remember it.  Every year I try and get out to explore and wander through the red-rock deserts of the Colorado Plateau, each time trying to find something new, some place where I can reconnect, recharge, and respark my creative engine.

Continue reading “Sandstone Cathedral”