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Utah Travel Headlines

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Huffington Post Spotlights Utah’s Spectacular National Parks



I'm always interested in reading other writers descriptions of natural wonders. This article has some insights, but also some questionable details. Below are excerpts, along with my comments.

The majestic landforms of the Colorado Plateau will set your imagination on fire -- along with the 100-degree dry heat -- in Zion, Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef National Parks.

Southern Utah does get hot during summer. I hike year-round and get out early in the morning for  summer treks. Spring and fall are ideal.

But the landscape of the parks and surrounding areas, which are not crowded at all, will look familiar. Of course, this was the land of the cowboys that you saw in the movies. Walk on the land and you hear and feel the crunch of the scrubby plants underfoot, endless dust, the winding paths around the sweet-smelling sagebrush and haunting rock formations that used to be good hiding places for outlaws.

During summer the parks are often crowded. There are also very popular areas outside of the parks that draw good numbers of people. But there are also plenty of places where you can find solitude.

In mountainous areas you generally look up at the scenery. At Bryce Canyon, you look down -- at the hoodoos, those pillars of rock that look like whimsical earthen obelisks.

Sculpted by wind and nightly freezing desert temperatures, the hoodoos got their name from Native American lore where the coyote turned the evil people to stone. The "painted" pink, white and red (iron), purple (manganese) and white (limestone) "faces" serve as evidence of the myth.

I like that.

Dinosaurs once roamed this area, and you can easily find traces of them in the gastropods scattered around the Morrison rock. Gastropods are smooth, round rocks the dinosaurs ingested and excreted much like the chickens do with their gizzard stones.

Actually, gastropods are slugs and snails. The writer was referring to gastrolith stones, which aided dinosaurs in the process of breaking down and digesting foods.

"Hobbit Land" is another place outside the park that the locals can show you. In sight of Boulder Mountain, the largest flat-topped mountain in the United States, these globular red rocks are good for climbing for experts and novices alike. Moving about them invites you to "commune" with the land by becoming a part of it -- literally. Wear your old clothes, though, when you climb these rocks. The soft Entrada sandstone that rubs off on you is impossible to remove.

Hobbit Land? I am aware of an area in Salt Lake City that is known as Hobbit Land, but I don't know of any such area in Capitol Reef. That doesn't mean it isn't there, I just don't know about it. If you kow of the place please let me know.

- Dave Webb

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