Canyonlands beckon the adventurous. I would, with enthusiasm, have rented a four-wheel drive vehicle and headed down the switchback track down to the canyon floor. Apparently, a couple did exactly that and their YouTube recording is a very long sound track of “OMG!” and “Holy Shit!” Both of those constitute great fun in my book.
As it was, we had only time for a photo stop in a park as impressive in its own way as the Grand Canyon. Island in the Sky area shared features with all of the land formations we had visited. Colors of stone layered and were cut away. DUDE is the acronym for remembering how it all came about. D is deposition, the deposits of millions of years’ worth of ocean sediment. These deposits compacted with the weight of new layers. U is uplift. Mom Nature exerts a lot of force when she gets tired of the weight and shoves it upright. For variety, she occasionally shoves a continental plate under what she lifted so it stays were she put it. D is also for downcutting. A rushing river cuts down through softer stone. E is erosion. Wind and rain wear away softer, weaker stone in a variety of ways. Wind picks up small particles and essentially sand blasts the rock. Rain washes what it can from particles to boulders down into the rivers already engaged in downcutting. Finally, freeze/thaw cycles widen cracks and can eventually split even the largest of rocks.
No rain worked its magic on our visit and yet it had left behind both the effects of downcutting and an abundant bloom of wild flowers. The Colorado River was flowing fast and we admitted to the guide that we had to giver her one. The Colorado was a real river, even by East Coast standards.