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Canyonlands - Island in the Sky (July 2, 2009)

Visit of Island in the Sky part in Canyonlands: Mesa Arch, False Kiva, and Shafer Trail.

Island in the Sky


Canyonlands consists of countless canyons located in the heart of Colorado plateau. Eroded by the Colorado River and the Green River, the plateau offers spectacular landscapes made of canyons, mesas, buttes and arches. Located 500 metres over the rest of the park, Island in the sky offers many impressive view points to appreciate these wide panoramas.

We started with a stop at Mesa Arch, a short trail leads to an arch lies on the edge of the plateau. From there we could enjoy a nice landscape with cliffs and countless canyons, located hundred metres below.

After a short visit to Upheaval Dome, an impact structure, we parked on roadside and started the trail to False Kiva. Located in a cave in a remote area, False Kiva is a stone circle of unknown origin. The site reminds a Kiva from Native American, but experts are not sure of the authenticity, hence the name. You will not find the False Kiva in any official guide for a good reason. The trail is treacherous and potentially dangerous, leading along the edge of a very steep drop of several hundred feet. Thanks to GPS location I had found the location and printed a map. Following not really visible footprints, we reached the edge of a cliff. We could make out a cave in the rock face but no trail to reach it 100 metres below. Few minutes later, we found a way on the left to go down the cliff and then go up to the cave. The trail was not easy but what a view!

Then we went to the different viewpoints of the park, Green River Overlook, Buck Canyon Overlook and Grand View Point Overlook which is located at the south end of Island in the Sky. We had lunch there, in front of the immensity of canyons.

Island in the Sky, Utah Island in the Sky, Utah
Mesa Arch. Island in the Sky, Utah

Island in the Sky, Utah Island in the Sky, Utah

Island in the Sky, Utah False Kiva.
Island in the Sky, Utah

Island in the Sky, Utah

Island in the Sky, Utah Island in the Sky, Utah
Green River Overlook.

Island in the Sky, Utah

Island in the Sky, Utah Island in the Sky, Utah
Buck Canyon Overlook.

Island in the Sky, Utah Island in the Sky, Utah
Look at this giant dinosaur footprint!

Island in the Sky, Utah
Grand View Point Overlook.

Shafer Trail and White Rim


During the afternoon we drove Shafer Trail Road which lets us descend onto the White Rim Plateau thousand feet below. The main difficulty is the high difference in altitude in a short distance: more than 400 meters in 8 kilometres. What a thrill! .This road has probably been open up by Native American, and then it has been improve, notably for trucks during uranium boom in 60’s. As we went down the trail, viewpoints were different but all impressive. When we had a look at the way taken it was difficult to distinguish the trail, it blended into the cliff face.

Once we were down we drove White Rim Road and reached Musselman Arch. More than an arch, it is a rocky bridge over the cliff. We turned back to Shafer Trail Road junction and continued on Potash Road. This trail follows Colorado and passed Thelma and Louise Point. The last part is paved; we made a stop at a rock wall covered in petroglyphs. At the end of the day we went back to Moab, and we had dinner at Moab Brewery.

Island in the Sky, Utah Island in the Sky, Utah
Island in the Sky, Utah The sinuous Shafer trail.

Island in the Sky, Utah

Island in the Sky, Utah Island in the Sky, Utah
Musselman Arch and Walking Rocks on White Rim.

Potash Road.

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