Family members met to tour National Parks and Monuments in southern Utah and northern Arizona during June 2014.
Note: [click] means you can click the image for a larger, perhaps different, picture.

Our route to a Cedar City rendezvous took us by Glen Canyon Dam, retaining a drought-diminished Lake Powell.

J-rigs below the dam awaited passengers for a float down the Grand Canyon. The Colorado River was much more sedate than it was during my July, 1984 trip down the canyon. Then, the dam was overflowing, spillways shot water over a hundred yards out, > 40,000 CFS flows scoured silt from the Grand Canyon floor, and big rapids such as Crystal Rapid and Lava Falls became monsters! Now, controlled flooding helps sweep debris from the Grand Canyon and provides wetter, wilder rides.

 

The Claron Formation, near the top of the world's most complete sequence of sedimentary rocks (the Grand Staircase [PDF]), comprises Cedar Break's 2000 foot deep amphitheater.

Marilyn, Jennifer and Noelle provide scale for the eroded fissures (hoodoos) in Red Canyon.

While Bryce and Cedar Breaks share geology, Bryce's scale dwarfs other outcroppings of Claron Formation.

Bryce Canyon National Park also takes the prize for variety of formations from differential erosion.

Sandstone grottos line the top near Bryce Point. [click]

A morning hike from Sunrise Point to Sunset Point let us view rock structures and bridges from below. [click]

Thor's Hammer is topped by resistant limestone.

Natural Bridges result from chemical erosion, frost fractures, and differential erosion. [click]

After two nights at the Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel, and multiple walks along the rim, we headed toward Zion National Park.

We stopped to peek back into a vent/light hole for the 1.1 mile-long Zion-Mt.Carmel tunnel. [click]

A fine lunch at the Whiptail Grill included Polygamy Porter, with clever labels.

Our hike to the Emerald Pools gave us a chance for a brief shower--here we look up at a trickle fall. [click]

Not enough water for a fall at the top pool--just seeps springing through the Navajo Sandstone layers.

A fork of the Virgin River cut Zion Canyon. Its low flow is visible from the Kayenta Trail.

Dissolved minerals leach out of the rock to form small stalactites at the Grotto, a large, damp overhang. [click]

After two nights at the Zion Park Inn, with its great restaurant, we needed downward views--the Grand Canyon.

The view down, from Permian Kaibab Limestone down to Cambrian Tonto Group. [click]

Angel's Window allows views into lower strata and the Colorado River. [click]

Canyons open up along the Transept Trail.

Among the hazards of the North Kaibab trail are flour-fine dust from mule traffic, and other mule deposits.

Aside from bison and mules, we mostly saw birds, Rock Squirrels (above) and Cliff Chipmunks.

The air cleared significantly when the Oak Creek Canyon Slide Fire abated.

Highlights of the Lodge: fine meals (especially huevos rancheros!) and Lumberyard IPA at the Rough Rider Saloon.

Heading home, we traversed the Grand Staircase. Here, we look down on UT 12 passing through Permian Cedar Mesa Sandstones.

After we startled a wild turkey on Boulder Mountain, we spied the Henry Mountains (laccoliths) that intruded into the Grand Staircase.

After fine dining at Cafe Diablo, we spent the night at deluxe digs.

We traveled along Moenkopi Formation as we headed toward Capitol Reef. [click]

View through the Cedar Mesa Sandstone 225' Sipapu Bridge in Natural Bridges Monument. [click]

Ut 261's Moki Dugway drops for three miles at 10% grade.

The San Juan River cut these Goosenecks through Honaker Trail Formation into Paradox Formation.

Ahh! Fine brews and repast at Main Street Brewing in Cortez the evening before we went to Mesa Verde.

View through a window into Balcony House

The kiva in Balcony House showed us our second sipapu.

Up we go!

Bracing and scaffolds identify ruins undergoing stabilization/restoration, Square Tower House in this case. [click]

Morning shade made for a cool tour of Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde's largest ruin.

A stop at the top of Wolf Creek Pass gave a California Grand-kid a chance to throw her first snowball.

For Quaternary geology, we took the C&TSRR from Antonito CO to Chama NM.

Breccia spires lie along the track at Phantom Curve.

Toltec Gorge: cut in Tertiary Conejos Formation. [click]

The engine worked hard traversing breccias and mud flows on the way to Osier.

The downhill train at the Osier lunch stop. [click]

We dropped into the verdant Chama Valley and the depot. [click]

Other relevant links:

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