Tuesday, November 13, 2012

15 in 17 - part six (Canyonlands)

Canyonlands!!!  I realize it sounds like some lame amusement park, but true to the title there are a LOT of Canyons here.  Now at this point in my life I've been to 33 states and 20 (of the 58) national parks...  I've seen a good deal of this country.  Not as many as some for sure, but probably more than most.  I don't say it to brag, but to give credential to the statement when I say:

"This is THE most fantastic landscape in America I've seen."

I would urge the world to make a trip to western Utah and see it for themselves.

One of the unique things about Canyonlands is it's divided into 3 districts.  The Needles, the Island in the Sky, and the Maze.  Some include a 4th referring to the rivers which themselves divide the districts.  I was only able to visit the first 2, because without serious rock-climbing skills it's impossible to get from one district to any other without leaving and re-entering the park somewhere else (and hundreds of miles away).  Crazy right?  In total, the park only gets 430,000 visitors per year, and most of those are likely spill off from the much more popular (and accessible) Arches NP right next door.  Compare to the Grand Canyon which gets almost exactly ten times the number at 4.3 million each year.

Anyway, onto art.  The Needles.

I don't remember exactly, but it's probably close to 50 miles from leaving the main road to the end of the national park's major road in this district.  And what a spectacular drive it is.  You're actually down at the bottom of the canyon driving past rock formations bigger than I thought possible.  Photos describe it better, but even they fail to capture the magnitude of the place.

Just watch out for flash flooding!

The Island in the Sky.  How could you not visit a place with that name?  This place is special enough to get TWO sketches.

Completely different than The Needles, this time the road takes you up on top of plateaus looking out over huge, deep canyons.  The views are utterly breathtaking.

And just a friendly reminder at the park entrance.  Funny thing is, this is the EASIEST district to reach.

Arches next...

Thursday, November 8, 2012

15 in 17 - part five (Mesa Verde)

A couple tips if any of you decide to visit Mesa Verde in Southwestern Colorado...  Don't bring a dog, and come with a full tank of gas.  Unfortunately I didn't know either of these, so my trip wasn't as good as it could have been.

It takes a lot of driving to get anywhere in the park because it's all canyon, but it really does have some spectacular views.

The park is most famous for the native american cliff dwellings carved into the rock face.  This was about the best view I could get because dogs aren't allowed on the trails, and people aren't allowed without a tour guide - which takes more time than I was willing to leave the dog alone in the car for. 

Here's a quick study I finally got around to doing yesterday:

Next up, Canyonlands!! (my personal favorite)