Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Canyonlands National Park -- Island in the Sky

So after we got done checking out Arches National Park, we still had some time left before heading back home. We decided to visit Canyonlands National Park. It's like 30-40 minutes away from Arches. What we didn't realize was that this park is divided into four districts: the Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze, and the rivers themselves. Unfortunately, the three districts have three different entrances and are not interconnected. There are two paved entrances into Canyonlands: Highway 313 leads to the Island in the Sky, while Highway 211 leads to the Needles. Roads to the Maze are a mix of graded dirt and 4WD. These roads can become inaccessible when wet.

Canyonlands National Park is open 24 hours a day, all year long. The entrance fees are the same as Arches National Park - $10 per vehicle for 7 days.

This park looks like a smaller version of the Grand Canyon. Of course the name suggests the same - "Canyonlands"... 
The Island in the Sky district is a broad tableland to the north of the park between Colorado and Green river with many overlooks from the White Rim, a sandstone bench 1,200 feet below the Island, and the rivers, which are another 1,000 feet  below the White Rim. 

Hikers, mountain bikers, backpackers, and four-wheelers all enjoy traveling in the rugged trails within the park. Rafters and kayakers float in the Green River and Colorado River above the junction of the two rivers.

We had about two hours to spend here so we asked someone at the visitor center what would be the best things to see and do here. He suggested that we should go see the Mesa Arch first. It was a short hike to the arch with breathtaking views of the canyon as a backdrop. 

Us under the Mesa Arch
Then there were three other view points called Buck Canyon Overlook, White Rim Overlook  and Grand View Point Overlook.

Buck Canyon Overlook
The entire park is like a half an hour drive to all the view points. There are lots of trails to do here. We just did one hike to the Mesa Arch, visited all the view points and then left. I would consider checking out the Needles the next time around. I've heard it's really nice.

Grand View Point Overlook
I think it was a nice and short trip. It gives you little feeling of being in the Grand Canyon. It's not as "grand" but enough. I would suggest stopping by here and doing a few hikes. We didn't get a chance to do much here but if you have more time, you should definitely go around. There is a point here where it looks like it was hit by an asteroid. I think we missed that spot. Scientists are still debating about how that place came to be the way it is. It's amazing what nature does and places like these are living examples. 

Have a nice day!

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