Canyonlands NP is an interesting park that is often overlooked. It is within an hours drive of the much visited Arches NP. It has three very distinct regions that you cannot access internally but rather must travel long distances around the outside of the park to go from one region to another. Two of the regions are rugged and remote beyond the abilities of many families but one of the regions, the Island in the Sky region, is very accessible and worth the visit. Find out more in our guidebooks described elsewhere on this site.
With no further introduction, here are Harley and Tavin...
couple of hikes that we knew we had to check out to include in our book, so I volunteered to head out
and tackle them. I asked for volunteers from the kids, and to my delight Tavin said that he'd accompany me. Thus began about a 2 hour excursion with just he and I, and we really made the most of our one-on-one time together.
We started off by hiking to Upheaval Dome, which is a fantastic and bizarre formation that no scientific
theory has yet to explain. We simply don't know exactly what caused it. There are multi colored rock
and dirt formations in grey, tan, and red located in the bottom of a gaping opening in the ground that
loosely resembles a huge natural amphitheater. The side you approach from terminates in steep,
rugged cliffs that drop several hundred feet, with some natural rock precipices that you can stand on.
Upon seeing this, Tavin's imagination immediately took him to the climactic scene in the Lord of the
Rings trilogy where Frodo throws the "One Ring" into the lava to break its hold on all who possess it.
As we tried to recreate that scene with photos, Tavin walked out to the precarious edge of the
precipice and held my wedding band out over the chasm, giving me at least two good reasons for the
lump in my throat to rise near the top.
Next we headed off to Aztec Butte, a short drive away. This hike is less frequented and we basically had the place all to ourselves. We chatted about various things as we found our route through the sandy washes and up over the butte to the location of an ancestral Puebloan granary hidden in the rocks. This created a cool sense of discovery as we imagined the lifestyle of the people who built this structure, and then we continued on to the next location which was their dwelling. This part of the hike got a bit more challenging, involving more route finding and scrambling up some fairly steep rock faces and outcroppings. Tavin eats that sort of stuff up, and I got a kick out of watching him tackle the challenge.
sweeping views of the surrounding area. With our mission accomplished we headed back to the
trailhead, eager to rejoin the rest of the family for the evening meal. Looking back I do remember the cool sights that we saw, but most of all I cherish the time spent together with Tavin. In our hectic world it is rare to find quality time like that - time with no interruptions, no smart phones, no internet, and no 'connectivity' other than the connections you are building between father and son.