Category Archives: Utah

Of Pictographs and Petroglyphs…

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah; Freemont petroglyphs 1

Freemont petroglyphs at Capitol Reef National Park, Utah; USA

We first heard of the Fremont people as we hiked to Lower Calf Creek Falls in the Grand Staircase Escalante region.The remains of their storage granaries perched at the edges of the high cliffs above us, and we were thrilled to spot their painted rock art, “pictographs,” on a distant canyon wall.

They also decorated many of the rock walls of Capitol Reef National Park to the east, but here the Freemont people carved into the cliff faces rather than painting upon them and created “petroglyphs.”*

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah; Freemont petroglyphs 4The Fremont culture farmed and hunted the Capitol Reef area from around 700 AD to 1250 AD. Their primitive art electrified our imaginations and created questions that can never be answered completely. Questions about ancient motivations and joys… about the death of a culture and the interpretation of its fragmented traces from centuries beyond.

*An easy way to remember the difference is to think: “paint a picture” for pictograph.

Updated from November 9, 2008.

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Torrey Things To Do

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Hoodoo Heaven

Bryce Canyon has lingered as a treasured still-shot in my memory for some thirty years. One of those “perfect moments” from childhood that somehow attaches itself to your life and becomes a trailing accessory to it… So as we pried ourselves from our beloved Zion National Park and drove eastward on Highway 12 a few years ago, I quietly wondered how my mental snapshot, and our next destination, had fared over all these years. The heavy smoke that billowing just beyond the park entrance was unexpected. Usually, you just get a park map and friendly smile upon arrival. Not a forest fire…UTAH: Bryce Canyon National Park;

Bryce Canyon National Park Visitor Information and Map

But, it turned out to be a “controlled burn,” unheard of in our generally saturated Ohio but a practical necessity out in the parched western US. My kids could comment more on the details of flames and flying ash. I was fairly focused on keeping to the road amidst the fog of smoke and fire fighters.

UTAH: Bryce Canyon National Park; View from Queen's Garden Trail

Bryce is a eerie odd sort of place, and there was no gradual habituation to its wonder.

UTAH: Bryce Canyon National Park; People

Water is the predominant force behind the forests of rock spires and quirky formations. Freezing, thawing and persistent rainrops have created this wonderland for the imagination -and will one day be its end, as recently illustrated by the collapse of “Wall Arch” in nearby Arches National Park. The towering pillars, “hoodoos,” are whims of erosion, captivating works of art as unique as individual snowflakes. Many have names:UTAH: Bryce Canyon National Park;  Thor’s Hammer, Sinking Ship, The Hunter. Others stand as in a many-acred art gallery, anonymous statues fashioned from Claron limestones, mudstones and sandstones.

Yes, the imagination can run a little wild at Bryce, and each visitor’s unique vision will personalize the Bryce experience. My vivid childhood memories of spired castles rising above pink, red and orange people brought me back, with my own children this time.UTAH: Bryce Canyon National Park; Horses But, intermittent rumbling soon lent a deeper hue to the sky as we hiked the Queen’s Garden and Navajo Trails. Eventually, I shoved the camera into our dry bag, and we raced for cover from a pelting storm!

Even this unforeseen event was a lively adventure at Bryce. We huddled on almost-dry dirt under tall rock totems with strangers from all over the globe. Our favorite new friend from the Netherlands UTAH: Bryce Canyon National Park; Navajo Trail; Approaching Stormjoked that, when it rained in his country, they simply built dams. And he then proceeded to do so, channeling a rippling stream of red water away from our feet by aligning rocks and mud with his walking stick and a muddy boot.

When it began to hail with some intensity we leaned back into the sticky rock walls, found drier spots for the damp ones amongst us and shared our recent adventures. The downpour was steady and included cold cold rain, hail and occasional falling rocks, released from above as part of the continual cycle of erosion.

A faint lull in the deluge finally prompted a few of us to run and slide up the slippery red slopes that would lead us out of the soaking canyon. The uphill run though driving rain was a little longer than expected, and we emerged a little further from our car than we had planned. But, theUTAH: Bryce Canyon National Park; Pronghorn wild hail storm only enhanced our Bryce Canyon adventure.

Completely saturated and splattered with red mud, we sipped steaming hot chocolate and watched for pronghorn deer on our drive out and on to our next night’s stay. The steady rain made Bryce a brief stop, but those mystical hoodoos enfolded by dramatic stormy skies also made it a one-of-a-kind memory.

 

Bryce Canyon National Park Visitor Information and Map

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah Park Website

“Hoodoo Heaven” – Quirky formations and whims of erosion in striking shades of red, orange and pink…

PO Box 640201; Bryce Canyon UT 84764-0201

435-835-5322Park Hours: 24 hours/day all year (Call for Visitor Center hours and weather-related road closings)

Entrance Fee: $25/vehicle permit (valid for 7 days) Annual Pass available View Larger Map

Updated from August 22, 2008.


Bryce Things To Do

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Into “The Narrows” (Zion NP, Utah)

UTAH: Zion NP; Hiking the Narrows (Virgin River)

“The Narrows” was the perfect plunge into vacation mode (July 2008).

After dropping off luggage, we hopped onto the seasonally mandatory shuttle bus and rode toward its uppermost stop, the Temple of Sinewava. Each curve of the road took us deeper into the intriguing walls of Zion. We craned to see rocks that stretched up like skyscrapers, sipped water from our Camelbaks and constantly nudged one another to “look at that!”

UTAH: Zion NP; Navajo sandstone fills the biggest space amongst Zion’s nine layers of vibrant rock. A shifting of the earth’s crust some 200 million years ago sloshed ocean water over giant sand dunes that rose far above our modern day dunes. The sea minerals cemented the sand grains, transforming those ancient wind-swept dunes into permanent fixtures. Subsequent motions in the crust lifted and tilted the newly-formed rock, draining the sea but leaving rivers behind to further embellish the landscape by carving dramatic canyons and eroding honeycombed crevices and caves.  Hiking “The Narrows” would give us a first-hand glance at erosion in action.  And be a LOT of fun…

UTAH: Zion NP; Hiking

To access “The Narrows,”  we first walked the one-mile “Riverside Trail” to its finish at the chilly Virgin River. After slipping my camera into our dry bag, we began our hike by simply walking into the clear waters of the river.

Absolute exhilaration.

There’s not much better than a river hike on a hot day. You expect to get wet and maybe a little dirty. There’s no need to step over puddles; instead, you aim for them. It’s the perfect kid hike (for the kid in all of us).

UTAH: Zion NP; Hiking

Debra, a part-time employee at the Cliffrose Lodge had thoughtfully provided us with the necessary hiking sticks (her own) to remain upright in the swift current and over the slippery rocks. As we made our way upriver, the canyon walls enclosed us, blocking all direct sunlight and sheltering us from the sweltering heat. Water trickled and occasionally gushed down the sheer walls sustaining hanging gardens of green that clung to the sandstone. The occasional stretches of deeper sandy-bottomed river prompted challenges between Hannah and Matt to achieve full submersion in the chilly water (I made it up to my ear lobes and counted that a success).

UTAH: Zion NP; Reliving

We didn’t make it the whole sixteen miles. Next time…? We met a couple of guys from Georgia at Zion’s backcountry permit window the next morning who planned to do the hike with an overnight.  Sounded like something fun to aim for…

By 8:30 hunger and darkness sent us back to dry land.  Invigorated, covered in wet sand and fully “on vacation…”

From July 2008.

Springdale Things To Do

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