Saturday, December 17, 2016
Canyonlands National Park (Utah)
The second half of the week we stayed in Moab (September 2016) we visited Canyonlands National Park. Part of the same geological processes that created the stunning landscapes in Arches National Park just down the road, Canyonlands is much less crowded, and less visually inviting at a first glance. But its starkness and vastness make it splendid in its own right. The colorful landscape has been carved into countless canyons, mesas, and buttes by the Colorado and Green Rivers, and their respective tributaries. Author Edward Abbey described the Canyonlands as “the most weird, wonderful, magical place on earth – there is nothing else like it anywhere”, and I would have to agree.
With virtually no shelter from the sun, visitors have to choose carefully where and when to hike on the 100’s of miles of trails, many of them rugged and remote, with no facilities, including no fresh water, along the way. It seems this barren environment wouldn’t support much life at all, but the park is home to over 15 mammals (including black bears, bobcats, bats, and deer), at least 273 species of birds (lots of hawks, owls, and eagles), several species of reptiles (count the rattlesnake among them), and six confirmed amphibian species (frogs and salamander). We saw many birds, but none of the other inhabitants the days we were there.
We spent just a couple of days exploring the Canyonlands, so there will be plenty left to do when we come back here next time!