Friday, November 28, 2008

Horse Canyon Trail to Paul Bunyan's Arch

The Horse Canyon Trail to the arch called Paul Bunyan's Potty starts at the Salt Creek trail head in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park in southeast Utah.

It is about 2.2 miles along this sandy 4WD road to the junction with Horse Canyon on the left. The Salt Creek route continues on the right to Peekaboo Springs and the not to be missed pictograph.

I thought this arch was Paul Bunyan's Potty but it actually belongs to someone smaller and doesn't seem to have a name. Paul apparently has a two holer. It took me about 1:15 hours to get to this point. The canyon floor here is fairly dense with vegetation and there appears to be a project of reducing the invasive Tamarisk trees.

It is possible to get off the trail and down into the wash for a closer look. This area has a lot of alcoves and cave formations that look like possible ruins sites. The ruins sites in this area mostly appear to be small storage sites.

About 15 minutes past the first arch there is a small storage ruin right at eye level along the sandy trail. These sites usually seem to be placed higher and are more hidden than this one.

The interpretive information at the Roadside Ruins site indicates that this region may have been used seasonally for farming but not so much for year round habitation.

The Paul Bunyan Potty arch is looming just above the small storage ruin only a minute further away. There is a sign making the identification clear. Hiking past the Paul Bunyan arch toward Tower Ruin, both of the arches can be viewed at the same time.

There is a short side trail from the small loop parking area to get up under and get the clear sky view through the arch. It took me about 1:30 hours to get here hiking. This is a somewhat tiring route due to the sand.

I was always searching for a firmer surface to walk on. From the Paul Bunyan arch it is about 40 minutes further to get to Tower Ruin. My total hike was 4:10 hours for this 8 or 9 mile round trip.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Tower Ruin Trail in Horse Canyon

The Tower Ruin Trail is a side route to a small ruins site off of the Horse Canyon trail in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park in southeast Utah. It took me about 2:00 hours of hiking up Salt Creek and Horse Canyon to get to the side trail.

The trail junction is about 1.0 miles past the Paul Bunyan Potty arch and is marked with a small sign. The Horse Canyon Trail continues for several more miles to the south. It is about 0.7 miles more to arrive at the ruins site.

The Tower Ruin overlooks a broad grassy area surrounded by steep sandstone walls. This area looks somewhat like nearby Chesler Park but without the Needles. The trail to the ruins site was a little more firm and a relief after the sand of Horse Canyon.

The Tower Ruin is a small site but is in a towering position. It appears to be a storage site but someone may have lived there also.

The ruins site appears to be a tricky place to get up to and doesn't have much room, but it appears to be well preserved with some roof beams still in place.

On the return hike, further to the south, a large arch is visible about a mile away. The park map shows Gothic Arch to be in that area. It took me 2:30 hours to hike to Tower Ruins with stops at the Paul Bunyan arch and the smaller arch before it. The return hike took 1:40 hours for a total hike of 4:10 hours for this 8 or 9 mile round trip.

  528614_Cool Camo Russell Outdoors

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Shay Canyon Petroglyph Trail

The Shay Canyon Petroglyph Trail is 1.9 miles past the well know Newspaper Rock Petroglyphs site on the way to the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park in southeast Utah.

There is a pull over parking place on the west side of the road but there is not a sign. A trail leads down to Indian Creek and you have to find a place to step across the creek and then follow the trail to the right side of the canyon wall. Creek junctions like this one are a typical place to look for petroglyphs.

The Indian Creek has year round water and a lush riparian habitat between steep sandstone canyon walls. A little further west the canyon widens and there are good pasture and farm areas. The Shay Canyon Creek was dry in late fall when I visited.

These panels show a lot of animal figures mixed with some human figures. One can guess that there may be some relation to hunting rituals and to religious activity. There is no interpretation information at the site and we are left to admire the rock art and wonder about them.

Some of these figures are considered to be the Fremont Indian style but the Fremonts are not thought to have lived in this area. The style could have been copied by Ancestral Pueblos or perhaps the Fremonts visited this area for hunting. This view has the often noted copulating sheep in the upper left and a flute player in the lower left.

Most of the figures here are at eye level but there are a few that are very high on the sandstone walls in locations where it is hard to see how anyone got up there to work.

The cliffs in the Indian Creek corridor are Wingate Sandstone. This layer is below the Navajo and Entrada Sandstone layers that are seen near Arches National Park and above the Cedar Mesa Sandstone that forms the Needles.