Arches National Park contains more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches are located in the park, including the well-known Delicate Arch and Landscape Arch, as well as a variety of unique geological formations. The park contains the highest density of natural arches in the world. The national park lies above an underground evaporite layer or salt bed, which is the main cause of the formation of the arches, spires, balanced rocks, sandstone fins, and eroded monoliths in the area. Deposited in Paradox Basin of Colorado Plateau over 300 mln years ago this salt bed is thousands of meters thick in places. Later, the salt bed was covered with debris eroded from the Uncompahgre Uplift to the northeast. During the Early Jurassic (about 210 Mya), desert conditions prevailed in the region and the vast Navajo Sandstone layer was deposited. An additional sequence of stream-laid and windblown sediments, the Entrada Sandstone (about 140 Mya), was deposited on top of the Navajo. Eventualy 1,500 m of younger sediments were deposited but these have been mostly eroded away. Remnants of the cover exist in the area including exposures of the Cretaceous Mancos Shale. The arches of the area are developed mostly within the Entrada formation. The weight of this cover caused the salt bed below it to liquefy and thrust up layers of rock into salt domes and “salt anticlines” – linear regions of uplift. In some places, they turned almost on edge. The result of one such 760 m displacement, the Moab Fault, is seen from the visitor center. Over time, water seeped into the surface cracks, joints, and folds of these layers. Ice formed in the fissures, expanding and putting pressure on surrounding rock, breaking off bits and pieces. Winds later cleaned out the loose particles. A series of free-standing fins remained. Wind and water attacked these fins until, in some, the cementing material gave way and chunks of rock tumbled out. Many damaged fins collapsed. Others, with the right degree of hardness and balance, survived despite their missing sections. These became the famous arches.
In the morning we set off for Canyonlands National Park – the “poor” sibling of Arches and Grand Canyon – even if considering views it might beat those. On the way there we take a detour to Dead Horse Point State Park with spectacular view of Colorado River 600m below, and our afternoon route – Potash Road. Next it’s Island of the SKy with almost infinte view of the plateu cut into canyons by merging Green and Colorado.
We take Shaffer Canyon Road down into the Canyonlands. I hate it as the exposure is terrible, and gravel seems slippery, but the sights along the White Rim route are worth the crunch in your backside.
Sunrise catches us on a view point along route “12” considered by many one of the most scenic routes in USA. We take a detour down along Burr Trail Road into one of lesser canyons – and at the same time my favourite place away from the crowds.
Wschód Słońca wita nas na “dwunastce” uważanej, chyba słusznie za jedną z najbardziej malowniczych dróg w USA. Odbijamy do mojego ulubionego kanionu – mało znanego, z nieco byle jaką drogą ale za to pięknymi widokami.
Next up is Capitol Reef National Park – approximately 100 km long along Waterpocket Fold and just under 10 km wide on average. The park was established in 1971 to preserve almost 1000 km2 of desert landscape. Region was designated a national monument in 1937, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to protect the area’s colorful canyons, ridges, buttes, and monoliths. The majority of the nearly 160 km long up-thrust formation called the Waterpocket Fold – a rocky spine extending from Thousand Lake Mountain to Lake Powell—is preserved within the park. Capitol Reef is an especially rugged and spectacular segment of the Waterpocket Fold. The park was named for its whitish Navajo Sandstone cliffs with dome formations—similar to the white domes often placed on capitol buildings—that run from the Fremont River to Pleasant Creek on the Waterpocket Fold.
Goblin Valley State Park is a state park of Utah within San Rafael Desert on the southeastern edge of the San Rafael Swell, north of the Henry Mountains. The park features hundresrs of hoodoos, referred to locally as goblins, which are formations of mushroom-shaped rock couple meters tall pinnacles. The distinct shapes of these rocks result from an erosion-resistant layer of rock atop relatively softer sandstone. Goblin Valley State Park and Bryce Canyon National Park ,contain some of the largest occurrences of hoodoos in the world. The unusual stone shapes in Goblin Valley result from the weathering of Entrada sandstone. The Entrada consists of debris eroded from former highlands and redeposited on a former tidal flat of alternating layers of sandstone, siltstone, and shale. The Entrada sandstone from which the hoodoos developed was deposited in the Jurassic period around 170 million years ago.
Natural Bridges National Monument lies at the junction of White Canyon and Armstrong Canyon, within the Colorado River drainage. It features Sipapu Bridge – the 13th largest natural bridge in the world, carved from the white Permian sandstone of the Cedar Mesa Formation that gives White Canyon its name, as well 2 other bridges: Kachina and Owachomo, which are all Hopi names. A natural bridge is formed through erosion by water flowing in the stream bed of the canyon. During periods of flash floods, particularly, the stream undercuts the walls of rock that separate the meanders (or “goosenecks”) of the stream, until the rock wall within the meander is undercut and the meander is cut off; the new stream bed then flows underneath the bridge. There are also numerous Anasazi sites wihin the park, including beautiful Horsecollar Ruin.
The most spectacular part of Bryce Canyon National Park, with the largest and densest formations, is thection between Sunrise Point and Bryce Point, centered on the upper drainage basin of Bryce Creek. The best trail down between those formation is probably the Peekaboo Trail, a hike of almost 9 km requiring almost 500 m descent from and then climb back to Bryce Point; as well as giving many amazing views of the main collections of hoodoos, both near and far, the path also crosses forested terrain where the more isolated formations contrast with the green and shady surroundings.
Up stream the Zion canyon becomes narrower towardsthe Temple and a hiking trail continues to the mouth of The Narrows, a gorge only 6 m wide at some places and up 610 m deep.The hike continues while wading in the river.
Today we visit North Rim in Grand Canyon National Park – less visited but certainly no less stunning part laying away from popular routes.
Bryce Canyon National Park protects Bryce Canyon in Utah. Despite its name, is not technically a canyon, but a collection of giant natural amphitheaters along the eastern side of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. Bryce is distinctive due to geological structures called hoodoos, formed by frost weathering and stream erosion of the river and lake bed sedimentary rocks. The red, orange, and white colors of the rocks provide spectacular views for park visitors. Delicate and colorful pinnacles stand up to 60 m tall. A series of amphitheaters extends more than 30 km along the rim. The largest of them is Bryce Amphitheater, which is 19 km long, 5 km wide and 240 m deep. Rainbow Point, the highest part of the park at 2,775 m is at the end of the 29 km scenic drive. From there, Aquarius Plateau, Bryce Amphitheater, the Henry Mountains, the Vermilion Cliffs and the White Cliffs can be seen.
Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon in the LeChee Chapter of the Navajo Nation just east of Page, Arizona. Antelope Canyon includes two separate, scenic slot canyon sections, referred to individually as “Upper Antelope Canyon” (The Crack, in Dineh – Tsé bighánílíní, which means the place where water runs through rocks) and “Lower Antelope Canyon” (The Corkscrew, Hasdestwazi – spiral rock arches in Dineh). Both sections are are accessible by guided tour only (there is also third section, which is fileld with waters of Lake Powell, and accessible by boat or kayaks). Antelope Canyon was formed by erosion of Navajo Sandstone, primarily due to flash flooding – which still occurs – and secondarily due to other sub-aerial processes. Rainwater, especially during monsoon season, runs into the extensive basin above the slot canyon sections, picking up speed and sand as it rushes into the narrow passageways. Over time the passageways eroded away, making the corridors deeper and smoothing hard edges in such a way as to form characteristic “flowing” shapes in the rock.
Horseshoe Bend is a horseshoe-shaped incised meander of the Colorado River located 4 miles south of Page, Arizona, United States. Viewpoint is accessible via hiking 2.4 k) round trip from a parking area over sandy and rocky trail with no sahde along it. Horseshoe Bend can be viewed from the steep cliff above. The overlook stands 300 m obve the river. The rock walls of Horseshoe Bend contain hematite, platinum, garnet, and other minerals.