A short tour of the Southwest

I recently returned from a short tour of the Southwest – in particular some hiking in Southern Utah. While I would have preferred to go for a little longer, some nagging foot injuries left over from my Alaska trip caused me to cut it a little short.
The weather the first day out was bad, raining most the drive up to Moab, UT. The following day was beautiful though as I got into Arches National Park for a couple of days of hiking. The ‘Devil’s Garden’ area and the ‘Firery Furnace’ in particular were spectacular.
The Delicate Arch, Arches National Park
The next stop was Canyonlands National Park, a short hop away, but completely different terrain. I spent one day exploring the Island in the Sky district, and another day hiking in Horseshoe Canyon. Island in the Sky, is pretty much as described – a small, high plateau area that sits elevated above the canyon floor below. There were some short, fun day hikes to be had in the area.
Self Portrait, Canyonlands National Park, October 2007
Horseshoe Canyon is a completely different animal. Detached from the main park area, it’s not particularly easy to find. I had to resort to asking a state park ranger in Green River for directions. One look at my red sports car led him think me nuts. The road into Horseshoe Canyon is not particularly car friendly, despite it’s designation as a 2WD unpaved road. The hike turned out to be worth abusing my car for though. A quick 800ft drop into the canyon floor leads to a nice, easy hike up the canyon to explore four different galleries of 2000 year old rock art. The ‘Great Gallery’ is just that, impressive with it’s size and stunning in it’s depiction of mummy-like figures.
The Great Gallery, Horeshoe Canyon area, Canyonlands National Park
The weather turned rain and snowy the day after Horseshoe Canyon and I headed North to visit friends in Salt Lake City. While in Salt Lake we took the opportunity to take a day trip to visit Golden Spike National Park (where the transcontentinal railroad was first completed) and Robert Smithson’s ‘Spiral Jetty’.
The Spiral Jetty is a work of land art constructed along the bank of the Great Salt Lake. The surreal salt flat terrain makes the work of black basalt rock stand out along the shore. The road to the Spiral Jetty was particularly rough, but despite that we were not the only visitors to be making the trek with several other groups turning up. While not the lasting, lonesome experience of the Lightning Field, the Spiral Jetty is still worth a visit.
Robert Smithson's 'The Spiral Jetty'
Other pics from the trip are here.

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