canyons of the ancients



Fantasy Canyon is a postage-stamp sized area located about an hour south of Vernal, Utah.  It makes up for its small size by presenting one of the most unusual erosional landscapes in North America.  

The area was first discovered in 1909 by paleontologist Earl Douglass. The rocks of Fantasy Canyon are quartzose sandstones and date from around 38 to 50 million years ago. During this geologic period, the area was occupied by a large lake called Lake Uinta. Fantasy Canyon is along the east shore of the ancient lake. Because of different rates of weathering, the more durable sandstone remained while the more easily weathered siltstone and shale washed away, yielding this spectacular intricate and delicate formations. 

Today’s geologic formations of Fantasy Canyon will eventually topple from weather and erode into sand, but new formations will appear as the surrounding soil washes away. 

The main erosional direction is horizontal; much of the area resembles piles of irregularly stacked planks, or bones, but the rock also erodes along vertical joints to form very thin pinnacles. This combination has created innumerable amazing forms including many narrow structures extending both upwards and outwards from the bedrock. The best times to visit the area are morning and evening from spring through fall.

Photos by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management.


Visiting the New Bears Ears National Monument

In an area as vast and diverse as the new Bears Ears National Monument in Southeastern Utah, it’s hard to know where to start in exploring. Here are some ideas for capturing a sampling of what the new National Monument offers.

On the Northern end, take state route 211 into spectacular Indian Creek Canyon. Stop at Newspaper Rock, a large and spectacular petroglyph panel with carvings dating back to 2,000 years. Further along, the canyon opens up into a wide valley rimmed by Navajo Sandstone. The iconic “Sixshooter” spires soon become visible. Look for rock climbers scaling the narrow cracks in the vertical Navajo Sandstone.

Further south, Take Highway 261 and 95 onto Cedar Mesa. The twin Bears Ears rise just north of the mesa. This is one of the most significant archaeological regions anywhere, with ancient pueblos tucked into endless canyons. Visiting many of the pueblos require planning ahead as they include hikes and some also require visitor permits. However, a view of the spectacular Butler Wash Ruin is a one hour round trip hike from a developed trailhead while the Mule Canyon Ruin is located along the highway.

Driving south along the rolling pinion uplands of Cedar Mesa does not prepare one for the descent of Highway 261 via the “Moki Dugway”. The route drops precipitously with views of Monument Valley in the distance. Similar landforms to Monument Valley’s famous formations are found along a 17 mile unpaved loop drive beginning at the base of the Dugway which traverses the Valley of the Gods.

A final stop along the southern border of the monument is also a must see. The viewpoint at Goosenecks State Park takes in a spectacular sequence of tight and colorful meanders of the San Jun River carved into the sandstone cliffs.

Many parts of the new national monument are remote and there are no services. Make sure to stock up with supplies in Monticello, Blanding or Bluff which all offer a full array of services as well as accommodations.


Life is Beautiful ❤ by Will Jacoby
Via Flickr:


Life is Mysterious by Will Jacoby
Via Flickr:

When the wind howls outside my home in the city, which increasingly feels foreign and frightful and not very much like home at all; I recall the wind howling outside the lookout, or in the trees, or across my tent in the canyon at Ancient Lakes.

Further, I recall wind howling before I ever lived. Deeply, before memory, buried in instinct; I hear the wind howl through all animal time when the sound is a signal.

Hunker down. Get underneath, stay warm, and listen to the wind howling outside.


“The people who designed Texas Colony had done their best to represent nature in all her glory, and paid special attention to visual effects. Rivers and streams wound through steep canyons that appeared to have been carved by ancient glaciers; forests of evergreens spread on the foothills.

The environment was totally artificial, but the scenery was more than enough to evoke images of the ancient reality on which it had been modeled.

Although the plains were now desert, tourists had once delighted in the sight of hundreds of cattle herded by cowboys, imagined campfire smoke in the distance to be signals from Indians, crossed the colony’s glass sections on giant bridges made to look like natural rock rock formations, and experienced a simulation of the Wild West on Earth’s North American continent.”

-from Mobile Suit Gundam: Awakening by Yoshiyuki Tomino


Enjoy beautiful skies over the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument with #mypubliclandsroadtrip.  

The Canyons of the Ancients National Monument in Colorado contains some of the highest densities of archaeological sites in North America, with pueblos from around 1200 A.D. Stop first at the Anasazi Heritage Center (monument headquarters), Southwest Colorado’s premier archaeological museum of the Ancestral Puebloan (Anasazi) and other Native cultures of the Four Corners region. A short hike from the Anasazi Heritage Center leads to the Escalante Pueblo and a dramatic view of the surrounding Colorado and Utah landscapes.

Photos by Bob Wick, BLM


Thanks to the Foundation of FLPMA, the BLM is Ready for Future

The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 represents a landmark achievement in the management of the public lands of the United States. For the first time in the long history of the public lands, one law provides comprehensive authority and guidelines for the administration and protection of the Federal lands and their resources under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management. This law enunciates a Federal policy of retention of these lands for multiple use management and repeals many obsolete public land laws which heretofore hindered effective land use planning for and management of public lands. The policies contained in the Federal Land Policy and Management Act will shape the future development and conservation of a valuable national asset, our public lands.

Senator Henry M. Jackson
Chairman, Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources


This Week, Take An Adventure with #mypubliclandsroadtrip in BLM Colorado!

The BLM manages 8.4 million acres of public lands in Colorado – ranging from 4,000 to over 14,000 feet in elevation. Join the #mypubliclandsroadtrip in Colorado for beautiful landscapes and backcountry byways, fossils and geological formations, and unique recreation like rock crawling.

Follow the roadtrip stops here on Tumblr, and the roadtrip progress at


The #mypubliclandsroadtrip today travels Colorado in search of fossils and cultural resources!

The roadtrip stops first at a location with the highest known density of archaeological sites in the nation — Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, a part of the BLM’s National Conservation Lands. Here, ancient cliff dwellings, great kivas, sacred springs, and rock art sites are spread across a rugged landscape.

The 178,000-acre monument in southwestern Colorado holds evidence of cultures and traditions spanning thousands of years, offering unparalleled opportunities to study and experience how cultures in the American Southwest lived and adapted over time. More than 100 years of archaeological exploration and research have led to more than 6,350 recorded sites representing all time periods of occupation. The BLM’s Anasazi Heritage Center within the monument is a museum of the Ancestral Puebloan (or Anasazi) culture and other native cultures in the Four Corners region.

Visit the My Public Lands Flickr to download vintage posters and postcards of the monument. Requests for paper posters can also be sent to Please include the word POSTER in the subject line and provide your name, mailing address, and the number and type of poster. Requests are limited to five posters per recipient.

Rainbows and Rays over Bryce Canyon : What’s happening over Bryce Canyon? Two different optical effects that were captured in one image taken earlier this month. Both effects needed to have the Sun situated directly behind the photographer. The nearest apparition was the common rainbow, created by sunlight streaming from the setting sun over the head of the photographer, and scattering from raindrops in front of the canyon. If you look closely, even a second rainbow appears above the first. More rare, and perhaps more striking, are the rays of light that emanate out from the horizon above the canyon. These are known as anticrepuscular rays and result from sunlight streaming though breaks in the clouds, around the sky, and converging at the point 180 degrees around from the Sun. Geometrically, this antisolar point must coincide with the exact center of the rainbows. Located in Utah, USA, Bryce Canyon itself contains a picturesque array of ancient sedimentary rock spires known as hoodoos. via NASA