Our Vantage Points

Canyonlands National Park
"Island in the Sky" District

Grand View Point Looking South

The Colorado and Green Rivers join about eight miles out there in the
canyons.   Just beyond the Abajo Mountains in the distance are the two
significant towns of Utah's southeast corner: Monticello and Blanding.





Canyonlands is divided by the Green and Colorado Rivers into three districts: "Island in the Sky" on the north, "The Needles" on the east and "The Maze" on the west.

Island in the Sky gets its name from the 6000-foot plateau that overlooks the entire area.

Grand View View
Looking directly down, 1000 feet below we see the fascinating white edges of the remarkably flat area called White Rim.   It's a significant geological feature of this place.   I call it "fascinating" because it's not particularly beautiful to me.   All things created are not necessarily "beautiful" but we can sometimes call them "fascinating." .  .  .  like me.

A plaque at the view point attempts to describe what we see.


This plaque helps establish the fascination of this place.   It is indeed "fascinating" that those eons of rain removed all that rock covering only "White Rim" mesa.  "Stairstep erosion" and "cliffs" indeed!  How could it leave the higher plateau also virtually flat, yet it is unprotected by the White Rim Sandstone?

When I write my dissertation about White Rim geology, it will be based on a much more cataclysmic event. Give me four years.



An Eastward View from Grand View Point
Note more of White Rim Mesa.

Canyon Roads

Early settlers on this island in the sky established trails to the rivers far below.   Then, in the mid 20th century, not long ago, uranium hunters improved these trails sufficiently for their jeeps.
Now, every day many people traverse these roads in their 4-wheel-drive vehicles. They come from teeming cities and freeways to briefly experience the wonder of these "three worlds" and to be a part of this relatively inaccessible wilderness with its seemingly timeless sandstone forms.

The Shafer Trail is one of the more popular trails. The west end of this road starts along the road to Grand View and plunges 1000 feet onto the White Rim bench. About five miles east it passes through Shafer Canyon which is just below Dead Horse Point at the Colorado River's hairpin turn.
The Shafer Trail
Another eastward View Off the Side of "The Island"
The above photo is taken from almost the same spot as the previous photo of the Shafer Trail, but with the camera aimed about 60 degrees farther left.

At the lower right edge of this picture one of the turns in the trail shown in the prior photo is visible. Toward the left of the picture, just past the white foreground, is the same trail heading straight across a flat area, then proceeding out of view into Shafer Canyon.

The large promontory high above the trail is Dead Horse Point where we stood just yesterday.

Across the Canyons from Island in the Sky
to the La Sal Mountains twice as high.
To Moab Operations Center >>    
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