Feb 21

Upheaval Dome Overlook Trail- Canyonlands National Park

Upheaval Dome
Karen and I did this hike back in 2009 when we were doing a western road trip through Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah.  During our Utah leg of the trip we spent two days at Arches National Park and one day at Canyonlands.  While Arches is still by far my favorite park in that area of the country I wish we would have had more time in Canyonlands to explore a little bit off the beaten path of the main roads of the park.
Karen on the Trail

One of the few things that we did at Canyonlands the day that Karen and I were there was to hike to both of the Upheaval Dome Overlooks.  The total distance of the trail is 1.8 miles, which may or may not seem like much of a distance to those that are reading this, but I do want to caution any readers that think about doing this hike during the summer months make sure you take plenty of water.  Also any hikes in this part of the country during the summer should really be done during the early part of the day or closer to sunset.  The heat can become truly unbearable during the afternoons.  In fact, Karen and I went back to our hotel after lunch to get a break from the heat and then headed back after 6 p.m.  I would classify this trip as easy to moderate since there is a 200 foot elevation change heading out and going back.
The Trail

The neat thing about hiking Upheaval Dome is the fact that over the last couple of years what scientists believed was a collapsed salt dome was actually an impact crater.  So what you are actually seeing is where a meteor hit the earth millions of years ago.  In 2008, shocked quartz was discovered in the area because shocked quartz can only be formed under high pressure like from a meteor impact or a nuclear explosion.  So, if you go and take this hike you can tell everybody that you overlooked a crater created by a meteorite.
Taking a break at the overlook

The trail begins from the Upheaval Dome parking area and winds along the southeastern rim of the crater.  The trail is rocky in spots and steps have been carved into the rock in some of the spots.  The trail is marked with cairns (rocks stacked on top of each other) so finding your way should not be too difficult.  Unfortunately, some hikers have decided to make their own cairns sometimes away from the trail so if you find yourself going off the path just retrace your steps and pick a different cairn and try again, but overall you should not have any problems.
Karen at the overlook

Upheaval Dome Overlook Trail is nice short hike to an interesting landscape.  Is it just a collapsed salt dome or is it actually an impact crater?  You can try to figure it out on this 1.8 mile loop trail.  If you want to cut the hike short and save your energy for other parts of the park you can just stop at the first overlook since the views from both are not that different.  If you are only there for one day and trying to explore both national parks that are in the area I would spend more of my time at Arches.  Happy hiking!
Overlook Upheaval Dome

Canyonlands National Park in Utah
For more information visit their website at http://www.nps.gov/cany/planyourvisit/index.htm

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