I am slowly working on a short series of posts with my favorite images from our recently completed exploration of the Colorado Plateau and surrounding provinces. I took 1,400 photographs, so it's a bit difficult to choose between them! As we pick up the narrative, we are eight days into a fifteen day trip. As seen in an earlier post, we'd already been to the Mojave National Preserve, Zion National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Bear's Ears National Monument, and Mesa Verde National Park. As we left Mesa Verde, we needed to find a way over the San Juan Mountains, a major range within the Rocky Mountain chain.
The La Sal Mountains are an anomaly in the generally horizonal landscapes of the Colorado Plateau. Between 28 and 25 million years ago, plumes of magma worked their way almost to the surface, intruding laterally between the sedimentary layers, and causing them to swell upwards like a series of blisters in the crust. The intrusions are called laccoliths. Exposed now by erosion, the igneous rocks reach elevations of almost 13,000 feet.
The landscapes in and around Arches and Canyonlands National Parks are almost beyond description. We spent two days in the area, and one of our stops was a rock art panel that is so delicate and fragile that I can't believe that it still exists 30 years after I first discovered it. Why? It's easily seen from the paved road leading into Canyonlands. But without signs and arrows pointing the way, people miss it. The first of the images are pictographs (below), those examples of rock art that were painted onto the sandstone. The ghostly figures and small hummingbirds are almost nightmarish in their imagery.
Pictures of Canyonlands are often mistaken for the Grand Canyon, but this section of the river includes only late Paleozoic rocks and thousands of feet of Mesozoic layers that are not seen at Grand Canyon. It is not as deep, but it is deeply colorful. It's hotter country in the summer, and there aren't many sources of water. Travel away from paved roads is more challenging than your "average" national park.
|Frame Arch view of Delicate Arch|
|The La Sal Mountains and Salt Wash through Frame Arch|
Our trip wasn't over. We had five more days and two more states to traverse. More favorite pictures soon!