Part 11: Green River, UT to Escalante, UT


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The Trip

Out of necessity, we stayed at an RV park with laundry.  We had a quiet night and on the following morning we headed south along the Green River.  Our objective was to get to two overlook points on the Green River canyon.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

We headed south along a dirt track that generally followed the Green River valley.  The surface terrain was not very interesting except for a few outcroppings.  This outcropping was remarkable due to its color and texture.

A bit further south, hills and cliffs with colorful strata became visible.

As we got further downstream on the Green River the outcroppings became red sandstone.  Note the wrinkled dark red layer at the base of this outcropping.  Not all wrinkling propagates to the next higher layer in the strata implying that deposition occurred over the wrinkled layer.

We traveled for several hours before finally reaching the first overlook on the Green River canyon.  This entrenched meander was sufficiently large that I could not get it in one 24mm frame.  The shot above is a 7-photo composite.  The river has carved steep, impassible canyon walls into the mesa.

In these situations, the urge is to walk to the very edge of the canyon for the best shot.  I had suspected that the edge was overhanging so I warned Kathleen to stay back.  The wind was  blowing hard so caution is the order of the day.

The sandstone in this area was created from frozen dunes.  Note the layering pattern in the rock.

The under side of exposed areas showed wind-driven erosion, even at a small scale.  The holes in the photo above are about the size of a quarter.

I spotted this rock with lichen on it.  Note that the lichen has "chewed" into the rock and the chemicals secreted by the lichen has eaten into the rock surface.  These lichen "eat" rock.

This area hosts at least 3 different kinds of lichen.

In an open area I spotted a cactus in bloom.

There were both yellow and purple cactus flowers.

We decided to eat lunch at the overlook.  We had a nice view of the canyon and the monuments and hoodoos in the distance.

We continued south to what we thought would be another overlook but discovered that it was a trail head instead.  Mark and Gail decided to hike down into the side canyon but discovered that the bottom of the canyon was way too far to go in the waning light of the afternoon.  All told, they walked about an hour.  The Horseshoe Canyon trail started on the ridge and then descended into the nearby canyon.


A portion of the trail is visible in the photo above.

From the Horseshoe Canyon trailhead we could see the still-snowy La Salle mountains in the far distance.  The inner canyon is deep and therefore not visible.  It was late in the day and the wind was blowing strong.  Given the distances that we needed to go, it seemed prudent to stay at Horseshoe Canyon, so we did.

We had a nice evening and when I awoke the following morning I discovered that the sun was just coming over the horizon.  I was a bit slow on the draw as I was thick-headed from sleep.

Our path would take us south from Horseshoe Canyon then west toward Goblin Valley.  Along the way we passed this nice monument.  The rock in this area was quite soft; note the big talus slopes at the base of the cliffs.

A bit further down the trail we encountered blow sand hills.  The Henry Mountains are visible to the south.

At several points the trail was covered by blow sand.  Thor was fish-tailing in the sand so Mark was more conservative.

Closer to Goblin Valley we came upon more nice monuments.

We had never been to Goblin Valley so we decided to check it out.  Essentially, goblins are just mini-hoodoos.  The combination of strong winds, blowing sand, hard capstone with a softer layer below results in goblins.  These goblins occur in the Entrada Sandstone formation.

Goblins come in all sizes and shapes.

Some areas were dense with goblins.  A sense of size can be obtained from the people at the far left of the photo above.

The main amphitheater was crowded with goblins.  Note the windows and hoodoos on the skyline of the cliffs.

I am sure that there is some "official" name for this formation, but I will call the goblins "Manny, Moe and Jack" after the Pep Boys.

We left Goblin Valley and headed southwest toward Hanksville and spotted some nice monuments along the way.  This monument is at least 1000 feet tall.

We continued west toward the Waterpocket Fold monocline and then turned south to follow the fold.  Visible in the distance were the Henry Mountains past rich fields.

Waterpocket Fold trends north-south and has exposed many complex cliffs.

Uplifts and folding in the area has exposed the colorful underlying strata.  Rich reds intermingled with gray layers.

The uplift and folding has exposed underlying sandstone to the forces of weathering creating complex shapes in the cliffs.

The plan was to ascend the Burr Trail Switchbacks to get us to the top of the fold.  The switchbacks are visible on the far cliffs.

The folding and erosion has caused windows to form in the cliff walls.

Kathleen and I led in Thor and Mark and Gail followed.  One switchback ahead gave us a nice view of their rig.

From the highest switchback we could see the entire path of the road through the side canyon.  The Henry Mountain are visible in the distance.

We paused for some photos at an overlook at the exit pass.  Beautiful, brightly-colored cliffs were revealed in the eroded canyons.

We attempted to camp in several of the area's campsites but all were full.  We were arriving late in the day, so this was not unexpected.  We later found a nice RV park in Escalante, UT that had room for both rigs.  This area of Utah is one of our favorites.  We have been here many times and will likely return many more.

Tomorrow, we continue west toward Bryce Canyon.

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Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2018, all rights reserved.
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