UTAH’S UNIQUE CANYON IS THE PERFECT SPOT FOR A #NATUREMOMENT
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.