Our final visit in the Moab area was to Canyonlands’ “Island in the Sky.”
The Island in the Sky in Canyonlands National Park is a mesa with sandstone cliffs that drop over 1,000 feet to the terrain below. It is the easiest part of the park to visit, having many spectacular viewpoints at pullouts along the paved scenic roads. At an average elevation of 6100 feet, it is the highest part of the park. It includes about a dozen trails of varying lengths, some across the plateau as well as a few descending toward the rivers.
Selected Information Resources:Canyonlands National Park
Dead Horse Point, near Moab, Utah, is a high plateau peninsula connected to the main plateau by a narrow neck of land. It is part of Dead Horse Point State Park and has spectacular views of the Colorado River, Canyonlands National Park, La Sal Mountains, and other scenic features.
According to legend, the point, with it’s 30 yard wide neck, was used as a natural corral by 19th century cowboys. Apparently, at one time, the corral was abandoned, gate left open, with unwanted cull horses still inside. Not all of the horses left the point, dying of thirst in view of the Colorado River 2000 feet below.
A more prosaic explanation is that Dead Horse Point was named by early Mormon Pioneers for a rock formation at the base of the plateau that looks like a dead white horse laying on its side (photo on left). In this explanation, the legend of the dead horses in the corral was created by a Moab elementary school student in the early 20th century for a “chamber-of-commerce” type contest for a story to lure tourists.
Our final hike in Arches National Park was a loop trail – 1 mile (1.6 km) – that includes three large arches.
The Windows – also known as the Spectacles – are two very large arches eroded from the same sandstone fin. Individually, the two arches are named North Window and South Window. Bearing left on the loop trail, North Window is the first arch that is reached. Visitors can easily climb up and stand or sit under this massive arch. Continuing on the trail around a large sandstone extension from the fin, the South Window can be viewed from the trail. A short spur leads to the base of the sandstone fin. South Window is higher than North Window and not easily accessed.
The third large arch, Turret Arch, lies in a castle-like sandstone formation. A moderately strenuous climb though its span yields a view of the Windows framed by Turret Arch.
In this case, Park Avenue is a canyon in Arches National Park. A 1 mile (1.6 km) trail leads through it between the Park Avenue parking area and the Courthouse Towers parking area.
Our September 27, 2011 hike started from and returned to the Court House Towers parking area, going up hill up the canyon and down hill on our return. We turned back at the steepest part of the trail, a short section from the Park Avenue viewpoint and trailhead.
Park Avenue viewpoint is the first major stop in the park after the visitor center.
Most visitors pass by Park Avenue trail on their way to other more popular features, stopping only at the viewpoints at either end to perhaps snap a few photos. We saw few other hikers on our “stroll” along the dry wash that passes between the towering walls of the canyon.