Thursday, September 18, 2008

Windwhistle Interpretive Trail

The Windwhistle Trail is a 0.5 mile interpretive loop located at the Wind Whistle Campground in the Canyon Rims Recreation Area in southeast Utah. Canyon Rims is a large area that sits to the east of Canyonlands National Park.

The trail winds through a pocket surrounded by a large sandstone formation. Water flowing off the rocks and the sheltered position seems to make this a rich area for local plants. The trail guide names 28 different plants at numbered stops.

There are several here that other botany trails in the region don't usually have. The Fremont Barberry has edible fruits eaten by wildlife and man. It has small shiny green holly like leaves that remain on the plant through the winter. I hadn't noticed this plant in other parts of the region.

Nestled high in a sheltered shady corner are a couple of Douglas Firs. These are usually high elevation mountain forest trees, but they survive here in a cool and moist micro climate. This view also shows slightly different sandstone layers with different patterns of erosion.

The Singleleaf Ash is unlike other ashes in having only a single leaf rather than three to seven leaflets per leaf. Wildlife eats the seeds and early settlers used the tough wood for tool handles.

False Mockorange grows in rock crevices and is in the Saxifrage Family along with Gooseberries, currents, and hydrangeas. Wildlife will browse the leaves when other plants are scarce. This short trail is a good introduction to the vast space of the Canyon Rims Area.

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