During my travels in Southwest US, I often came across these funny vertical stripes on the walls. Looked as if someone had poured down varnish from the walltop.Later on, I learned that this indeed is called "desert varnish".I checked the web, and found the following infos:(for more details please check NPS.gov website, the Canyonlands' one):Desert varnish only appears where water flows over rocks, and bacteria are present. It is composed of fine-grained clay minerals, which contain black manganese oxide and red iron oxide, or hydroxides.
Fondest memory: Now directly from NPS/Canyonlands Website:
Desert varnish consists of clays and other particles cemented to rock surfaces by manganese emplaced and oxidized by bacteria living there. It is produced by the physiological activities of microorganisms which are able to take manganese out of the environment, then oxidize and emplace it onto rock surfaces. These microorganisms live on most rock surfaces and may be able to use both organic and inorganic nutrition sources. These manganese-oxidizing microorganisms thrive in deserts and appear to fill an environmental niche unfit for faster growing organisms which feed only on organic materials.The sources for desert varnish components come from outside the rock, most likely from atmospheric dust and surface runoff. Streaks of black varnish often occur where water cascades over cliffs. No major varnish characteristics are caused by wind.Thousands of years are required to form a complete coat of manganese-rich desert varnish so it is rarely found on easily eroded surfaces. A change to more acidic conditions (such as acid rain) can erode rock varnish. In addition, lichens are involved in the chemical erosion of rock varnish.
When looking through bookstores in Utah, I always felt like in heaven, as there are so many excellent books on all and everything.
Consequently, I bought some (tons) of books on Southwest, usually hiking and geology books.
Fondest memory: The best hiking guide with excellent and precise little map drawings for me is:
"Hiking the Southwest's Canyon Country"
by Sandra Hinchman, published by Mountaineers.
(mine is ed. 1990 and was USD 12,95 in 1996).
For most of the hikes, I did by myself, or which I will recommend here, I'll add some of their map drawings.
Which should animate you to eventually get your own copy of the book - if you like hiking :-)
(no, I'm not payed for this recommendation :-)
Whole Southwest US is red rock wonderland. All is displayed due to the activity of Colorado River, who has carved it's way through the rocks since eons - and thus gives us magnificent insights of the single layers of Mother Earth in this part of the world.
The map below is taken from the booklet "The Story behind the Scenery - Heart of the Colorado Plateau", and shows the parts and National Parks of Utah, belonging to the Plateau.
Glen Canyon Recreation Park.
And much more, which are not here in the map.
Fondest memory: As I love the sight of each single rock in Utah (although far away of having seen each :-) I will describe more about the Colordo Plateau, it's geology, it's history, it's different places to visit - the famous ones and the less famous ones.
Yepp - and in this case, fulfilling the demand of VT to describe what I miss most when being away from Utah:
I miss the enormous variety in red colors' hues being present there;
I miss the way, the rocks tell me about the history;
I miss the atmosphere, the colors create, depending on the daylight;
I miss the plants who intelligently found their way to live in these dry regions -
I miss Utah !
Monument Valley is one of those places that has made a huge impression on me. Looking at these pictures always makes me think back to the day that I stood there looking at those amazing rock formations.
The landscape is flat and there is red dust everywhere, there are some little shrubs that cover the surface. But almost out of nothing there are these impressive rocks formations, they are called buttes and mesas. They are so huge and strangely shaped, it hard to believe that they are real. They are so huge, it makes you realize how small you really are. The whole atmosphere is so surreal and so serene, I will never forget it.
On most of the pictures Utah looks so very dry and dusty with all those red rocks. But when you take a closer look you can see some beautiful flowers as well. Take this series of cacti for instance. These are just 5 photos of the many flowers I saw. The flower itself is so delicate and vibrant in colour. Ranging from pink to orange and red and even to a bright yellow color. The plant itself is prickly and the combination of the delicate flower with this sturdy plant is beautiful by itself. But putting this combination in this harsh landscape, where you would think it wouldn't be possible to grow anything, it is just amazing. I think I saw the most of these cacti in Monument Valley and in Zion National Park.
There is lots to see besides dust and rocks in a desert. You only have to look a bit closer at things. There are a lot of lizards in the dessert, but they are more scared from you, that the other way round. When you are quiet and look carefully you will spot them. But do leave them in peace, and just enjoy looking at them.
I don't know for sure but I think this is a Collared lizard. One of my travelbooks explained to me that : 'The collard lizard can be shades of yellow, green or brown and is often found sunning itself on a rock'. Lizards are carnivores. You can spot them on top of a rock, basking in the sun, warming up enough to go out hunting. From these exposed locations, they claim their territory, attract mates, and search for food.
Please correct me if it's not the collared lizard. I am always curious to know a bit more about the animals I spot
Beware : don't reach blindly under bushes, rocks or into holes. Rattlesnakes, scorpions and spiders do occur within the park.
Utah is an amazing area in the USA, I've never seen something like it before. The landscape is weird, fascinating and breathtaking at the same time. In Utah you can find some of America's most beautiful National Parks like Zion, Bryce Canyon and Monument Valley. Every time I look at my photos I am amazed; I've really been here! I've done many travels and hopefully will do many more, but Utah has captured a special place in my heart. This is only going to be a small page; a little summary of my visit to Utah. I know that there is much more to Utah then only the places I've been to, but I do hope I can give you a little taste of what Utah has to offer.
It's funny how a day can make all the difference. Just twenty-four hours earlier I scrambled around madly trying to get the perfect photo of The Delicate Arch. I wasn't the only one doing it. There were another hundred odd people there waiting for sunset. Some where just as hung up if not more so about getting the “perfect picture.” Some might have been ignoring their friends, wives, or even kids in this all consuming passion. Of course, not everyone. There are still some sane people in the world. The rest of us, well, we can't help our mono-vision.
Fondest memory: If I wasn't married to the greatest girl on the planet none of this would make much difference. She had been camping all over the southwestern US with me for weeks, often forgoing showers for more days than is acceptable by even me. She'd done this hike in our “uniform” as she'd become fond of referring to our desert whites despite it not being really necessary late in the day and for such a short walk. She sat there alone, not complaining, despite most other people being far cleaner and fashionably dressed. I was off taking photos, oblivious to what anyone was wearing, including myself. I had been wearing the same thing for weeks and often went days without seeing a mirror. To be honest, none of these trivial things would have mattered if I'd just been by her side for more than a fleeting moment here and there. Even after half of the arch was covered in shade I shot the top of the arch as it glowed a frame around a distant snowy peak.
Now, things were entirely different. Not only was I at her side like a good attentive husband, we were freshly clean and at least she was dressed a lot more nicely. She looked amazing but she looked great the day before too to me. I had taken some photos earlier but just a few. This time I knew when to stop. You know when the color peaks, you can see it. And I stopped and enjoyed a special moment watching The Delicate Arch with my wife. Don't you know it, the best shot I got from both night's shooting was from the second night. The best wife? She was with me both nights and I was finally smart enough to be with her too.
With five National Parks, UTAH is America's National Parks capital: Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands and Capital Reef. In addition, there is Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park which straddles the Utah/Arizona border.
Utah is a western State of the United States, and was named after the Native American "UTE" tribe and means people of the mountains. It is 84,000 square miles and the 11th largest state, with Salt Lake City as its capital.
Utah has a large percent of Mormons, concentrating mostly around Salt Lake City. Brigham Young and the first Mormon pioneers came to this area in 184
A beautiful, natural sandstone arch, WILSON ARCH is located adjacent to US Highway #191, 24 miles southeast of Moab. It has a span of 91 feet and height of 46 feet, making it quite impressive. It is visible from the road and there is parking opposite the Arch, so you can safely stop and take some pictures.
Fondest memory: The sign at the pulloff near the arch reads:
"Wilson Arch was named after Joe Wilson, a local pioneer who had a cabin nearby in Dry Valley. This formation is known as Entrada Sandstone. Over time superficial cracks, joints, and folds of these layers were saturated with water. Ice formed in the fissures, melted under extreme desert heat, and winds cleaned out the loose particles. A series of free-standing fins remained. Wind and water attacked these fins until, in some, cementing material gave way and chunks of rock tumbled out. Many damaged fins collapsed like the one to the right of Wilson Arch. Others, with the right degree of hardness survived despite their missing middles like Wilson Arch."
Favorite thing: Located in southern Utah on Highway 191 between Blanding and Moab and near the entrance to the Needles district of Canyonlands National Park. CHURCH ROCK is a solitary column of sandstone and even from miles away, you can see the outline of a Church. In my photos, La Sal Mountains can be seen in the background.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Located on the southern border of Utah, MONUMENT VALLEY NAVAJO TRIBAL PARK is a region of the Colorado Plateau, characterized by a cluster of vast and iconic sandstone buttes, the largest reaching 1,000 feet above the valley floor. The Valley lies within the Navajo Nation Reservation and is accessible from U.S. Highway #163. The Navajo name for the Valley is Tse' Bii' Ndziagaii - Valley of the Rocks.
The Valley's vivid red color comes from iron oxide exposed in the weathered Cutler Red siltstone. The darker, blue-gray rocks get their color from manganese oxide.
Monument Valley has been featured in many films, such as in Westerns by director John Ford ( #4 Overlook is named after him).
Near the entrance to the Park is a Visitor Center, with rest rooms and a large souvenir shop. Visitors pay an access fee of $5.00 U.S. per person which allows you to drive through the park on a 17-mile (27 km) unpaved dirt road. Parts of Monument Valley are only accessible by guided tour, such as Mystery Valley and Hunt's Mesa.
I was soooo looking forward to see Monument Valley for myself as I have heard and read so much about it. For sure, I was not disappointed. It was all and more than I anticipated.
Friday October 2, 2009
I was unbelievably excited to see Arches National Park. I had seen and heard so many good things about it. We spent the most part of the day there, arriving 9:30 a.m. and leaving around 4:30 p.m. In hindsight, I would have planned to stay another day, as there was so much we missed, as many of the wonderful arches are only visible on the many hiking trails. But we did not have the proper equipment to do any hiking.
Featuring the greatest concentration of natural stone arches in the world, ARCHES NATIONAL PARK boasts over 2,000 stone arches and numerous stone formations, in the 119 square miles (76,518 acres) Park. Many of the formations in the Park have distinctive names like Delicate Arch, Fiery Furnace, The Three Gossips, Courthouse Towers, Devils Garden, Garden of Eden, Parade of Elephants and Balanced Rock. Many are easily viewed from the road or from the many Viewpoints throughout the Park.
Arches National Park offers a number of Hiking/Walking trails to suit any experience level - Easy - Moderate - Strenuous. I highlight these in my Sports Tips section. For those who wish to tour by car, there is a paved scenic 18 mile drive. The Main Sections are: The Garden of Eden, The Windows Section, Wolfe Ranch/Delicate Arch, Fiery Furnace and Devils Garden, where the park's Campground is located.
Arches is 5 miles north of Moab on Highway #191
Favorite thing: There are 5 national parks in Utah: Zion and Bryce in the south, the lesser known Capitol Reef which is east of Bryce and Arches and Canyonlands in the far eastern portion of the state. These parks are fascinating in their diverse scenery and varied recreational opportunities.
Favorite thing: Utah has many National Parks (6 in total), in addition to its National Forest Areas, National Monuments, state parks and other recreation areas. Large portions of the state consist of recreational playgrounds interspersed with scenic drives. This picture was taken at the entrance into Red Canyon along Hwy 12, one of Utah's most scenic highways, while heading to Bryce Canyon National Park.
Stayed for 3 nights. The room was very clean and spacious. Housekeepers were always prompt and did a...more
This is the only campground in Arches National Park. There are 52 site to choose from. Current...more
It's more like a motel that a hotel but it's nice and it's the best place to stay in vicinity of the...more