20b gypsum further up trail

Zion’s Northwest Treasure: Kolob Canyons

Tucked away in the northwest corner of Zion National Park is the stunning five-mile scenic drive into Kolob Canyons. Most people either drive right by or never take the time to head to this area. It’s a shame for them, but means less crowds for us. Kolob is home to narrow parallel box canyons, called finger canyons, cutting into the western edge of the Colorado Plateau. Glorious peaks with 2,000 foot crimson cliff walls.  The word “Kolob” is from Mormon scripture meaning “residence closest to heaven.” Let’s see for ourselves!

Come on along . . .

20b gypsum further up trail

Porcelain Beauty

edge of change-2554

The western side of Yellowstone offers an otherworldly experience of fumaroles (steam vents), hot springs, mudpots, and geysers . Here our wilderness walks are on boardwalks with brief excursions through hearty pines standing tall as they resist heat, steam, acidity, and constant sometimes violent change. Today we walk the volcano’s edge in northeast Norris Geyser Basin, the hottest and most acidic geyser basin in Yellowstone. Welcome to  Porcelain Basin.

Continue walking . . .

20b gypsum further up trail

A Yellowstone Memoir

I sit here in the center of Yellowstone National park  with an amazing view south. I envy the Tetons, such youngsters and still growing and rising into the sky. I remember the extreme heat that gave me form but wonder about the caldera below and the timetable for its next explosion.

Yellowstone caldera

I ponder my brothers and sisters north in Specimen Ridge and east in the Absaroka Mountains. I’m in awe of my nieces and nephews, the columnar basalt standing tall along the Yellowstone River at Tower.

yellowstone columnar basalt at tower

The explosion that planted me here is much older. The Absaroka volcanics spewed rock and ash, witnessed ash flows and lava flows through intense fury and extreme heat. Half my home, known as Mt. Washburn, fell into the caldera, but the remaining half stands tall reaching over 10,000 feet into the clouds and ever-changing sky.

Yellowstone Washburn

I’ve seen 45 million years of heat, ice, compression, water, and erosion, but not near as much as my ancient ancestors, the 4,700 million year old granitic gneiss still gracing the landscapes and canyons to my north. Today my edges offer homes to colorful lichens and flowery plants. Humans, so very new on the landscape, rest on my flatter surfaces and comment on my makeup; the whites, pinks and freckled rocks all found within me. I’m a volcanic conglomerate–45 millions years old and still here to tell the tales of glaciers, volcanoes, and time.

Yellowstone Conglomerate