Tag Archives: UT

11-29-19 – Valley of the Gods


The Valley of the Gods is a scenic sandstone valley near Mexican Hat in San Juan County, southeastern Utah, United States. Formerly part of Bears Ears National Monument, Valley of the Gods is located north of Monument Valley across the San Juan River and has rock formations similar to those in Monument Valley with tall, reddish brown mesas, buttes, towers and mushroom rocks—remnants of an ancient landscape.

The Valley of the Gods may be toured via a 17-mile (27 km) gravel road (San Juan County Road 242) that winds around the formations. The road is rather steep and bumpy in parts but is passable by non-four-wheel drive vehicles in dry weather. The western end joins Utah State Route 261 shortly before its 1,200-foot (370 m) ascent up Cedar Mesa at Moki Dugway, while the eastern end starts nine miles (14 km) from the town of Mexican Hat along U.S. Route 163 and heads north, initially crossing flat, open land and following the course of Lime Creek, a seasonal wash, before turning west toward the buttes and pinnacles. In addition to the gravel road, the area is also crisscrossed by off-road dirt trails.

The valley has been used as the backdrop for western movies, commercials and television shows including two episodes of the BBC science fiction show Doctor Who: “The Impossible Astronaut” and “Day of the Moon”, the second of which includes an explicit on-screen reference to the filming location. The 1984-1987 CBS TV show Airwolf is often mistakenly identified as being filmed in Valley of the Gods due to an in-episode mention but was filmed in Monument Valley

Source: Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valley_of_the_Gods

11-28-19 – Grand Staircase Escalante


The monument stretches from the towns of Big Water, Glendale, and Kanab, Utah in the southwest, to the towns of Escalante and Boulder in the northeast. Originally encompassing 1,880,461 acres (7,610 km2), the monument was slightly larger in area than the state of Delaware. After a reduction ordered by presidential proclamation in December 2017, the monument now encompasses 1,003,863 acres (4,062 km2).

The western part of the monument is dominated by the Paunsaugunt Plateau and the Paria River, and is adjacent to Bryce Canyon National Park. This section shows the geologic progression of the Grand Staircase. Features include the slot canyons of Bull Valley Gorge, Willis Creek, and Lick Wash which are accessed from Skutumpah Road.

The center section is dominated by a single long ridge, called the Kaiparowits Plateau from the west, and Fifty-Mile Mountain when viewed from the east. Fifty-Mile Mountain stretches southeast from the town of Escalante to the Colorado River in Glen Canyon. The eastern face of the mountain is a 2,200 ft (670 m) escarpment. The western side (the Kaiparowits Plateau) is a shallow slope descending to the south and west.

East of Fifty-Mile Mountain are the Canyons of the Escalante. The monument is bounded by Glen Canyon National Recreation Area on the east and south. The popular hiking, backpacking and canyoneering areas include Calf Creek Falls off Utah Scenic Byway 12, and Zebra Canyon, Harris Wash, and the Devils Garden. The latter areas are accessed via the Hole-in-the-Rock Road which extends southeast from Escalante, near the base of Fifty-Mile Mountain. The Dry Fork Slots of Coyote Gulch and lower Coyote Gulch are also located off the Hole-in-the-Rock Road.

Source: Wikipedia

09-18-19 – Jurassic National Monument


Jurassic National Monument, at the site of the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry, well known for containing the densest concentration of Jurassic dinosaur fossils ever found, is a paleontological site located near Cleveland, Utah, in the San Rafael Swell, a part of the geological layers known as the Morrison Formation.

Well over 15,000 bones have been excavated from this Jurassic excavation site and there are many thousands more awaiting excavation and study. It was designated a National Natural Landmark in October 1965. The John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, signed into law March 12, 2019, named it as a national monument.

All of these bones, belonging to different species, are found disarticulated and indistinctly mixed together. It has been hypothesised that this strong concentration of mixed fossilised bones is due to a “predator trap”, but any kind of definitive scientific consensus hasn’t been reached yet and debates still continue to the present day.

Unfortunately I arrived only to learn that it was closed for the season, so I explored the surrounding area. I’ll return next year to see the visitor center.

09-17-19 – Antelope Island, Great Salt Lake


Antelope Island, with an area of 42 square miles (109 km2), is the largest of ten islands located within the Great Salt Lake, Utah, United States. The island lies in the southeastern portion of the lake, near Salt Lake City and Davis County, and becomes a peninsula when the lake is at extremely low levels.

The first known non-natives to visit the island were John C. Frémont and Kit Carson during exploration of the Great Salt Lake in 1845, who “rode on horseback over salt from the thickness of a wafer to twelve inches” and “were informed by the Indians that there was an abundance of fresh water on it and plenty of antelope”. It is said they shot a pronghorn antelope on the island and in gratitude for the meat they named it Antelope Island.

Antelope Island has natural scenic beauty and holds populations of pronghorn, bighorn sheep, American bison, porcupine, badger, coyote, bobcat, mule deer, and millions of waterfowl. The bison were introduced to the island in 1893, and Antelope Island bison herd has proven to be a valuable genetic pool for bison breeding and conservation purposes. The bison do well, because much of the island is covered by dry, native grassland.

The geology of Antelope Island consists mostly of alluvial plains with prairie grassland on the north, east and south of the island, along with a mountainous central area of older Precambrian metamorphic and igneous rocks and late Precambrian to Paleozoic sedimentary rocks, covered by a thin layer of Quaternary lake deposits, colluvium and alluvium. The Precambrian deposits on Antelope Island are some of the oldest rocks in the United States, older even than the Precambrian rocks at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

09-17-19 – Timpanagos Cave National Monument


Timpanogos Cave National Monument is a United States National Monument protecting the Timpanogos Cave Historic District and a cave system on Mount Timpanogos in the Wasatch Mountains in American Fork Canyon near American Fork, Utah, in the United States. The site is managed by the National Park Service. The 1.5-mile (2.4 km) trail to the cave is steep, gaining close to 1,000 feet (300 m), but paved and fairly wide, making the caves accessible to most. The three caves of the system, one of which is specifically called Timpanogos Cave, are only viewable on guided tours when the monument is open, usually from May through September depending on snow conditions and funding. There is the standard tour going through the cave system, and an Introduction to Caving tour which teaches Leave No Trace caving and goes further into Hansen Cave.

The three caves of the Monument that are tourable are: Hansen Cave, Middle Cave, and Timpanogos Cave. The three caves are connected by manmade tunnels blasted in the 1930s by the Works Progress Administration . The average temperature in the caves is 46 degrees Fahrenheit. Many colorful cave features or speleothems can be seen. Among the most interesting are the helictites, which are hollowed, twisted, spiraling straws of deposited calcite or aragonite. They are formed when water travels through the tube and then evaporates, leaving a trace mineral deposit at the end. Other speleothems found in the cave include: cave bacon, cave columns, flowstone, cave popcorn, cave drapery, stalactites and stalagmites.

09-16-19 – Dinosaur National Monument


Dinosaur National Monument is a United States National Monument located on the southeast flank of the Uinta Mountains on the border between Colorado and Utah at the confluence of the Green and Yampa Rivers. Although most of the monument area is in Moffat County, Colorado, the Dinosaur Quarry is located in Utah just to the north of the town of Jensen, Utah.

The nearest communities are Jensen, Utah, and Dinosaur, Colorado. The park contains over 800 paleontological sites and has fossils of dinosaurs including Allosaurus, Deinonychus, Abydosaurus (a nearly complete skull, lower jaws and first four neck vertebrae of the specimen DINO 16488 found here at the base of the Mussentuchit Member of the Cedar Mountain Formation is the holotype for the description) and various long-neck, long-tail sauropods. It was declared a National Monument on October 4, 1915. In April 2019, the International Dark-Sky Association designated Dinosaur National Monument an International Dark Sky Park.

The rock layer enclosing the fossils is a sandstone and conglomerate bed of alluvial or river bed origin known as the Morrison Formation from the Jurassic Period some 150 million years old. The dinosaurs and other ancient animals were carried by the river system which eventually entombed their remains in Utah. The pile of sediments were later buried and lithified into solid rock. The layers of rock were later uplifted and tilted to their present angle by the mountain building forces that formed the Uintas during the Laramide orogeny. The relentless forces of erosion exposed the layers at the surface to be found by paleontologists.

The dinosaur fossil beds (bone beds) were discovered in 1909 by Earl Douglass, a paleontologist working and collecting for the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. He and his crews excavated thousands of fossils and shipped them back to the museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for study and display. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the dinosaur beds as Dinosaur National Monument in 1915. The monument boundaries were expanded in 1938 from the original 80-acre (320,000 m2) tract surrounding the dinosaur quarry in Utah, to its present extent of over 200,000 acres (800 km²) in Utah and Colorado, encompassing the spectacular river canyons of the Green and Yampa.

The plans made by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation on a ten-dam, billion dollar Colorado River Storage Project began to arouse opposition in the early 1950s when it was announced that one of the proposed dams would be at Echo Park, in the middle of Dinosaur National Monument. The controversy assumed major proportions, dominating conservation politics for years. David Brower, executive director of the Sierra Club, and Howard Zahniser of The Wilderness Society led an unprecedented nationwide campaign to preserve the free-flowing rivers and scenic canyons of the Green and Yampa Rivers. They argued that if a national monument was not safe from development, how could any wildland be kept intact? On the other side of the argument were powerful members of Congress from western states, who were committed to the project in order to secure water rights, obtain cheap hydroelectric power and develop reservoirs as tourist destinations. After much debate, Congress settled on a compromise that eliminated Echo Park Dam and authorized the rest of the project. The Colorado River Storage Project Act became law on April 11, 1956. It stated, “that no dam or reservoir constructed under the authorization of the Act shall be within any National Park or Monument.” Historians view the Echo Park Dam controversy as signaling the start of an era that includes major conservationist political successes such as the Wilderness Act and the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.