Sunday, January 29, 2017

Sand Island Petroglyph Panel, Utah

San Juan River, Sand Island Recreation Area, San Juan County, Utah
The San Juan River at Sand Island.
On a cold January afternoon I stopped by for another visit to the BLM's Sand Island Recreation Area.

Picnic area overlooking the San Juan River, Sand Island Recreation Area, Utah.
Picnic tables and shade shelters overlooking the San Juan River.
 There is a boat landing there on the San Juan River, a campground (self register and pay, year around) and picnic areas with vault toilets, and a BLM (Bureau of Land Management) ranger station (not open in the winter).

The campground has two loops. A small one with a few sites just to the east of the ranger station, and a much larger loop at the west end.

San Island Petroglyph Panel, Sand Island Recreation Area, San Juan County, Utah
Interpretive sign for the Sand Island Petroglyph Panel, on the cliff face in the background.
 It is along the road into and through the west campground loop that the Sand Island Petroglyph Panel is located. An exceptional collection of ancient inscriptions pecked into the patina of the sandstone cliff there. The main panel is protected by a chain link fence, with an easy trail along it so that you can ogle the many figures and photograph them without touching them.

San Island Petroglyph Panel, Sand Island Recreation Area, San Juan County, Utah
Petroglyphs etched into the sandstone cliff face. Notice rider on horse, which would be later than prehistoric.
 Most of the petroglyphs (pecked into the rock, as opposed to pictographs, which are painted on the rock) are prehistoric, up to probably a couple of thousand years old. They were made by what today are referred to as the Ancestral Puebloan culture. There are also a few that must have been made after the 1600s, when the first Spanish explorers introduced the horse to the natives in North America.

San Island Petroglyph Panel, Sand Island Recreation Area, San Juan County, Utah
Inscriptions of unknown meaning. But this must have been an important location, with so many of them.
 Photo location: Sand Island Recreation Area, southern San Juan County between Bluff and Mexican Hat, Utah.

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© Copyright 2017 Stephen J. Krieg

Friday, January 20, 2017

Winter at Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Bryce Canyon from Sunset Point area, framed by Ponderosa Pine trees in winter.
Talk about your Canyon Country Grand Staircase winter wonderlands. At the top of the list--including elevation wise--has to be Bryce Canyon National Park in southern Utah.

The colors of the Pink Cliffs change throughout the day with the sunlight and shadows, as they do year round. But when there is fresh snow to make each fin and hoodoo (irregularly shaped spires of rock) stand out, it's even more amazing.

Just after sunrise at Bryce Canyon.
 Bryce Canyon is high elevation. The rims in the park range from about 7,900 feet at the Visitor Center to about 9,000 feet at Rainbow Point at the south end of the drive.

Late afternoon sunlight and shadows at Bryce Canyon. The small tilted formation is called the Sinking Ship.
 The Grand Staircase is made up of all the layers of sedimentary rock that were eons ago uplifted from sea level to much higher in the sky. The bottom layers are exposed by the Colorado River at the Inner Gorge of Grand Canyon. The uppermost layers--the Pink Cliffs--are most spectacularly seen here at Bryce and at nearby Cedar Breaks National Monument.

Douglas-Fir trees down among the glowing fins.
As spectacular as the views are from the Rim viewpoints, a hike down into the canyon makes for a whole other experience. The even cooler and moister habitats down among the fins of rock provide a habitat for huge Douglas-Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) trees. The sunlight reflects off the orange limestone fins, contrasting with the clear blue high elevation Utah blue skies.

Moonrise just before sunset, from Bryce Point. On the far horizon is the Aquarius Plateau.
 And if you're fortunate to be able to stay until the end of the day at the right time of the month, you can watch the nearly full moon rise at sunset from Bryce Point.

Photo location: Bryce Canyon National Park, southern Utah.

© Copyright 2017 Stephen J. Krieg