Canyonlands National Park: Island in the Sky

Hope is like a road in the country; there was never a road, but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence.
— Lin Yutang
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On an overcast and extremely windy autumn day, Grand View Point Road is a lonely, winding trail curving left and right through the desert.  There is no indication of the dramatic wonderland that is simply a few hundred yards to the left or right.

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Reaching the end at Grandview Point reveals only 3 other vehicles with visitors exploring the trails.  The weather has intimidated the tourist crowd today with 40-50 mile per hour wind gusts.  Who in their right mind would step near the edge of a thousand-foot ledge when the wind is that strong?  Of course I would. 

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Canyonlands not only reveals one drop in depth but multiple drops.  It’s a canyon within a canyon.  Visitors are given the choice to peer over the edge from vantage points along Grand View Point Road down at the canyons or drive around the park on the White Rim Road which requires a four-wheel drive vehicle.  The White Rim Road is 100 miles long and the park service recommends that you take two days to complete it.   

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The canyon reveals levels of erosion from the last 320 million years or so.  Multiple colors and structure of rock have been carved from water and wind.  The Colorado and Green rivers both cut through this park and meet further south of Grand View Point. 

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Mesa Arch is one of the most famous places to photograph the sunrise.  Alas, the clouds have spoiled this luxury today.  The arch still holds its value as a scenic wonder.  Its precarious perch defies gravity for now.  Sometime in the next billion years it may face its ultimate demise. 

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Climbing near-vertical mountains isn’t easy so a series of switchbacks allows vehicles to slowly inch their way to the top safely.  It is imperative to maintain attention to the road as guardrails and barriers are nowhere to be found.  This is the wild where only the strong and smart survive. 

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For more information about Canyonlands National Park, click the link below.

Have you visited Canyonlands National Park?  What was your experience like?