Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Upheaval Dome Overlook Trail

The Upheaval Dome Overlook Trail leads to two view points of this unusual circular geologic feature. The round trip to the most distant view point is 1.6 miles. The trail head is at the end of the west leading road in the Island of the Sky District of Canyonlands NP is southeast Utah.

There are two theories attempting to explain Upheaval Dome. The more traditional explanation is that the salt layer below the accumulated sediment pushed upwards. The more recent proposal is that a meteor strike 60 million years ago caused the ¾ mile deep crater.
The trail has many steps carved into the rock to make the walk easier. Even with the relatively easy footing there are some ups and downs over the mostly bare sandstone that will make you stop to catch your breath. Most of the attention is directed toward the crater, but there are also scenic views on all sides. There is the 8.3 mile Syncline Valley Loop Trail that circles the Upheaval Dome and starts at the same point as the Upheaval Dome Overlook Trail.

The trail head area has a picnic area and was very busy on the day I visited. Most visitors stop at the first view point after 0.3 miles. I spent 1:10 hours on the 1.6 mile round trip on a mostly cloudy mid September day. I drank a full liter of water at the end of the hike.

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