Top of the Rockies

Since the weather was cold and blustery what better to do that go to the top of the Rockies.  It was a long day, but beautiful.  We took the Top of the Rockies National Scenic Byway drive.  We were unable to take the entire drive because part of the section from Leadville to Aspen had not been plowed yet from the winter weather.  But we did a nice little loop that crossed the continental divide twice.

Leaving Interstate 70 on CO Hwy 24 to Leadville and back up CO Hwy 91 to Interstate 70.  On the by-way the altitude seldom dips below 9,000 ft and mountain peaks exceed 14,000 ft.  Talk about Rocky Mountain High…  Pictures below show some of the peaks and how they exceed the tree line.   I wonder if the snow ever completely melts on the top??

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I was amazed that there are actually a lot of valleys at this altitude.  On many parts of the drive you were literally in a 9,000 ft high valley??

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We were about as high as you can go in the US crossing the Continental Divide twice, first at the Tennessee Pass at 10,424 ft and again at Fremont Pass at 11,318 ft.  This whole area is also one of the best ski areas in the US with Aspen, Vail and Breckenridge all within about 50 mile radius.  What a beautiful place!!  Would love to see the mountain peaks with a brilliant blue sky behind, but we can’t control the weather maybe another day.

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Peace and Love!!

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Rifle, CO

Rifle is a small town on Interstate 70 about 180 miles west of Denver.  Its highlight for me was a real grocery store.  Green River had a very small grocery the Melon Vine that we had been relying on for the last month.  Although we are staying in Silt, Rifle is only 7 miles away and has a full size grocery store City Market and a Walmart.

Besides the shopping, we had a wonderful day at Rifle Falls Co State Park.  There was an entrance fee of $7.oo, but the falls were beautiful with a nice short hike around and behind the falls.  There were also caves in the rock face on either side of the falls some with built-in benches.  We imagined the caves would be very popular in the summer when it was hot outside.

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Just a couple of miles above these falls were great cascading falls.   The trail in the state park follows the river above the falls as an optional extension to the shorter hike.  The cascading falls were in my opinion prettier than the taller falls, but I love all waterfalls!!

Peace and Love!!

 

 

The Wedge or Utah’s Little Grand Canyon

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I was a little hesitant to make this trip because the directions were to drive over 40 miles into never never land on dirt roads. If you look at a road map of Utah there are a lot of dirt roads and we have been on several but never for 40 miles and on some we have decided to turnaround because it was more than we or the Jeep wanted to do. But always the adventures we went for it. The drive was thru BLM land and they actually do a pretty good job of maintaining their roads. It had even been wetted that day to keep the dust down!! Although they maintain the road pretty well, their signs leave a lot to be desired.

We had seen no reference to the Wedge or the Little Grand Canyon since we first turned off the interstate and had been traveling for 30 + miles. The map (general road map) made it look like our destination was not where we appeared to be heading. None the less and to make a long story short, we saw a lonely and very rare road sign that said “overlook” on a turnoff. The problem was that that road dead ended and which way exactly was the “overlook” and was it the one we were looking for??   Low and behold we had internet service out in the middle of nowhere and were able to find our destination and get home a shorter way than we had come!!

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This was truly a beautiful spot and we understand that it is expected to be one of the next National Parks. They have the road structure in place and a lot of rock art and other attractions to make a nice park, just need to increase the signs for directions.  Other sights on the journey.

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I do have one complaint I would like to register with the BLM. We hiked around the rim of this magnificent canyon for a while, and I did not have to get too close to an edge to see the sights. But when we came upon the “Little Grand Canyon” view point with the only informative signage, you had to go way out on a point to see the signs. I could imagine an excited child tripping on the uneven surface and plunging into the canyon. Luckily that did not happen, but I think the signage should have an easier access, just saying!!!

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Peace and Love!!

Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef encompasses the Waterpocket fold a warp in the earth’s crust. This type of formation is also called a monocline, where part of the earth’s crust up rises exposing the many layers beneath. Although this fold is over 65 million years old it is obvious that what was once a flat valley is now risen to an approximate 30 degree angle exposing layer upon layer of various rock formations. This particular monocline or up thrust is over 100 miles long!! It was probably formed as continental plates collided and broke forcing one to uplift and shift so that it lay on top of what it was originally connected to. I am sure that is crystal clear. Hopefully the pictures will demonstrate better.

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Notice how many different types of rock layers you can see in that last picture.

After the initial impact (65 million years ago) there has been much weathering and erosion causing washes, canyons, buttes and other beautiful formations. Most of these are from a hike down Capitol Gorge.

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Also, the canyon formed by the Sulphur Creek from Goosenecks Overlook. Named for the gooseneck in the river (creek) below.

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A special shout out to our most trustworthy traveling companion, Mr. Jeep.

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The most unexpected part of our journey was the drive from Hanksville into the park. The park was not accessible via automobile until 1962 when they build UT Hwy 24. The landscape changed around every curve and was magnificent. This part of the drive alone was worth the 2 hour one way trip to Capitol Reef.

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Peace and Love!!

 

Green River, UT

The area around Green River, UT is full of history and interesting day trips. John Wesley Powell who famously was the first to take a boat trip thru the Grand Canyon, started his trip on the Green River which converges with the Colorado river in Canyonlands. They have a J W Powell River History museum here in town which had a Rock and Mineral expo last weekend. They hosted a couple of field trips with expert leaders to guide the trips. This was very interesting since Randy and I have done a lot of day trips lately having someone to tell you what you are looking at was great.

Our first field trip was to Sago Canyon which contains rock art from three different Native American cultures, some dating back as far as 7,000 BC. We have seen several different examples of rock art, but this was the first time there was painted art (pictographs) and not just the pecked or chipped art (petroglyphs). Having a group and discussing possible interpretations and other questions was nice.  The rock art is usually in areas near water and with life style significance such as access for hunting or farming uses. This area must have been very important to the early civilizations since it was used for thousands of years evidenced by the variety of rock art in the area.

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Our second field trip was to Fossil Point. On this trip, we had a Bureau of Land Management Paleontologist to assist in pointing out the dinosaur bone fossils. When we first arrived and he showed a fossil, I was skeptical and didn’t think we would really see much (his first example was not the best). But as we looked around there were large fossils everywhere. Some where the bone was still intact and a part of the rock and others where the bone had eroded away and only the void in the rock remained. These fossils date back to the Jurassic era 145 million years ago. There were even a couple where we found two large rocks that had split and if put back together would have a void of an entire bone. The size was really impressive. We plan to go back since it is only about 15 miles out of town.

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The rest of our day trips have been self-guided but still interesting. Crystal Geyser is only about 7 miles outside of town and is a cold geyser fueled by carbon dioxide. They say that when it goes off it can reach between 30 and 60 feet high, but is not on a schedule and its eruptions are unpredictable, somewhere between every 8 – 12 hours. The first time we stopped by it was bubbling and spewing maybe a foot or two every now and then. Since then we have gone back 3 times once the area was completely dry, once the area was wet but no bubbling or spewing and the third time was about the same as the first?? We don’t know if it no longer erupts like it used to or if we have just been missing it?? None the less the travertine formations on the surrounding rocks are beautiful and there is a nice view of the Green River so we will probably go back, just in case.

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We have also taken several scenic drives around the Green River, the Colorado River and the general area. We have seen several examples of rock art, loads of rock formations, numerous arches (outside of the NP) and the mighty rivers. This is truly a beautiful and mysterious land – We’re not in Kansas anymore!!! Also for you beach bums, paddle boards are not just for flat water anymore, not sure how they are in large rapids, but small they do pretty well.

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Peace and Love!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arches Too…

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Our third day in Arches, what a wonderful place it is. The only other place we really want to go in this park is the Klondike area. That takes a dirt road about 10 miles into the north-western area of the park. All areas could be explore forever, but we are trying to stay on the trails.

This day we hiked around the north and south windows also called the spectacles, you can see why with the nose shaped formation between them. Looks different from the back side, but still a beautiful sight.

 

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At the same stop we went down to the Double Arch which was so cool and large. They are all very large, but sometimes it is overwhelming. This was formed by two reliefs on either side and a large pothole on top that collected water from rain fall and dissolved the rock until it made a hole, imagine the time that took and the number of birds/wildlife that enjoyed the pothole of water while it lasted.

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There was also the Turret Arch, which is a different type of double arch. Two in one formation or rock face.

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All of that at one stop and about 2.5 miles of hiking. WOW.

Delicate Arch one of the most popular in the “STATE” (it’s on their license plate). We stopped there on our first day and went to a view point about 100 yds. from the parking lot (you may remember pictures). There is a difficult hike to this arch from Wolfe Ranch that is over 3 miles straight up and on ledges, that we decided we were not ready for, and it was so crowded you could hardly get a parking place. So we returned to the shorter trail head and headed up the Moderate hike .5 miles yet pretty straight up. Venturing off the end of the trail a little we got a great view and I almost think better than being on the main trail simple because we were alone while you can see the number of people in the photo at the arch , and being under it I don’t think you would really realize the other cute formations that make it look like a playground…

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From Delicate Arch area looking back to where the windows area is. Zoom into the middle of the horizon. Amazing!!

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There is much interpretation of what the rocks look like and as we walk/drive around we constantly discuss what the formations look like, this is either a human or lion face profile. At least to us, what do you see?

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Peace and Love!!