May 1869 at Green River Station, Wyoming John Wesley Powell and ten men in four boats struck out on the Green River into “The Great Unkown”. The purpose was to explore, map, and record the river through the Grand Canyon. Only 5 of them floated out of the Colorado River at the mouth of the Virgin River (now under Lake Mead). Thus began the United States first efforts to map out this region. This region of Utah was not fully mapped until the 1930’s. The first explorers thought of this as desolate, pitiful, wasteland unsuited for human habitation.
Only through the efforts of the United States government and the sweat and toil of thousands of hard working men and women, were dams and waterworks built that allowed the distribution of fresh water to ranches, farms, and cities throughout the Southwest and northern Mexico. Today as more and more people move into the region, water is still the resource that matters the most.
We are staying in Green River, Utah which is half a ghost town now that the Uranium mines have all closed and I70 passes around the town. Shady Acres is a nice campground and just close enough to Arches, Canyon Lands, and other sites. There is a state park next door that we have not looked through yet and the John Wesley Powell Museum (great museum, a must see when in the area).
Peg and I visited Arches National Park and found it to be very interesting. It was jammed with people. A lot of foreign folks are bussed in to this park so the cultural mix adds an nice touch and feeling to the adventure. The arches are amazing, although, I stopped short of following the trails out to see more. We have seen the top half of Canyon Lands and will catch the bottom this week end.
Canyon Lands is magnificent. I took the trail to Island in the Sky Overlook and climbed right to the top. It makes you feel like you are on top of the world! The day we were there the sky was clear so visibility was estimated at 150 miles. We had a good time plenty of people there but not crowed and everyone was relaxed and not in a hurry like at Arches.
Between these Arches, Capitol Reef, Escalante, and Canyon Lands, it is certainly clear why the first explorers, who had to find there own food and water, considered this desolate wasteland not fit for human habitation. However, the geology is just mesmerizing. What a wonderful place we, the American people have preserved.
Links to pictures are below. They do not do this country justice, but maybe they will give you a flavor of the place and you will want to come visit.