This probably is not news to anyone who is an experienced visitor to our National Parks but, these places are NOT theme parks! I was totally amazed to see that except for a few spots at Visitors Centers, there were no railings or other barriers keeping us off the edge of sheer cliffs and other life-threatening situations. I saw numerous instances of tourists perched on stone walls at a canyon’s edge to take a selfie. One wrong step and off they would have gone! Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to scare anybody away from these gorgeous parks. I was simply speechless at how the majesty of nature is on display without being “baby-proofed”.
This was day two of our visit to the parks in Utah – Canyonlands National Park. To give you an impression of how big this park is and how vast the canyons are, all I can do is repeat what I kept saying to my wife. “If this ain’t the Grand Canyon, that other one must be a REALLY BIG hole!”
Canyonlands is actually divided into two pieces. The area we visited is called “Island in the Sky” because the central part of this park is a huge plateau surrounded by canyons. Another section of the park called “The Needles” is to the south and is about a 2 hour drive away. Again, it’s a big park…
The first place we stopped, after the Visitors Center, was Shafer Canyon. The canyon itself was quite a sight but almost as stupendous is the road that leads down to the bottom. The winding dirt road snakes through the canyon and is well used by automobiles and bicyclist. I can imaging riding a bike down that slope is quite an experience but, you would have to be quite the ironman to ride back up! I didn’t see anyone trying that.
You really have to see this place to know what I’m talking about. The vastness is something that really can’t be described in words. The image above, is the view from the other side of Shafer Canyon overlook. Almost too much to take in and this was just our first stop.