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World Renowned Hikes in Utah

Have you ever seen stunning pictures in National Geographic and wished you could visit those far away fairy tale lands? Well if you are anywhere in North America you need not to wish for some vacation that would cost you all of your life savings. Utah has some of the most stunning locations in the world and the hikes take you right into the heart of these incredible landscapes. Here are some of the most well known and worth while hikes.

Angels Landing

This incredible hike has stunning views, terrifying cliffs, and some of the most incredible hiking known to man. It is located in Zion National Park and is a short 5 miles. That isn’t to say that it isn’t rather difficult, as the vertical climb is about 1500 feet, but the overall distance keeps it from being overly strenuous. The Angels Landing hike starts at the Groto Picnic area. Hikers cross the Virgin River and follow the West Rim Trail towards and them up a rather large cliff face.

Once the switchbacks have been climbed there is a nice one mile stretch through Refrigerator Canyon. This tall and thin canyon stays in the shade all day except at noon, so temperatures are refreshing. To climb out of the canyon another set a switchbacks needs to be climbed, that then lead to Scout Lookout. The views are incredible and at this point hikers split away from the West Rim trail and traverse the narrow Angels Landing trail to the final point. This portion of the trail can be dangerous if one does not hold to the chains and follow safety precautions. Everyone who hikes it confirms that it looks far more dangerous and scary than it really is, and that the views at the end are totally worth the fear factor. These views and this portion of the trail are what makes it world renowned, and so highly recommended.

Delicate Arch

This hike leads to one of the most world famous arches in existence. Located in Arches National Park you can view the arch just 100 yards from the asphalt. Some people enjoy this view, as they have many other things planned and little time to complete their vacation to do list, but with the hike being just over 1 mile each way this is a hike that is a no brainer.

Photographers and artists love to visit this location as their perceptions and abilities to portray the arch can lead one to see many different angles and visions of its beauty. Keep in mind that spring and fall are the best times to make the trek due to the heat of summer and the chance of uncomfortably cold weather in the winter. Don’t forget to see the Native American rock art that is just to the side of the trail head.

Calf Creek Falls

Calf Creek Falls is the major feature of the BLM’s Calf Creek Recreation Area. The trail meanders through cliff faces streaked with color from run off rich with minerals. Beaver damns litter the creek and fill its winding bends with small ponds. Additional beauty is found throughout the canyon with many Native American rock art features.

The trial has a round-trip distance of 5 1/2 miles. This is an easy stroll as there is little elevation gain, but most of the trail is covered in sand. This makes it a little more difficult than your average walk in the park. Do keep in mind that the summer months can get especially hot, and if you decide to brave the weather keep lots of drinking water on hand. There is a pool at the base of the falls that many hikers take a dip in before their return hike, making it well worth the summer trip.

Visiting any of these three hikes is well worth the time and the trip. There are many more hikes and places to visit within Utah that hold a status of world fame, just take some time to research a few more activities to create the vacation of a life time.

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Getaway To A Great Adventure, Outdoors!

Who wouldn’t love a great adventure outdoors? Almost every child loves the time they get to spend outdoors, roaming, exploring and being free. This fades a little as we age, but only because we become accustomed to the structure of school and work. Think back to how much you looked forward to summer vacation, and why you still love vacation time and you can see how true it is.  Everyone yearns to spend time outside, away from stress and enjoying nature. Many people also want to enjoy a fun adventure outdoors, rather than to simply be outside.

In today’s world where we often worry about money and the cost of a great vacation, you might find yourself wondering what kind of adventure you can afford. Perhaps you would like to stay close to home, maybe to save on time or money. At climbingoutdoors.com you can read about places throughout Utah where you can have a great weekend adventure. Pick a hiking trail, a camping spot, a backpacking route, or a mountain biking trail where you can enjoy nature and relax and recharge. Even if you live in the middle of a city, the mountains and wilderness are not far away.

While it is true that some of these outdoor adventures, such as camping or rock climbing require a bit of an investment in equipment, Climbing Outdoors can suggest the best gear for your chosen adventure. If you think you won’t have the time to dedicate to enjoying this outdoor sport, hiking is a great place to start. All you really need is a map, a buddy, some water, and a cell phone would be smart. There are countless trails all across Utah, and the website highlights some great ones. Spend a Saturday hiking a trail any time you can, and once you feel more dedicated, spend the money on gear and camp for a week!

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Activities to do Near Arches National Park

Arches National Park is set among the red rocks of Utah’s southern desert making it a great hiking and camping destination.  It is home to Delicate Arch, featured on license plates in Utah, and one of the most famous rock arches in the world. There are plenty of activities for the family or outdoor adventurer to enjoy, including hiking, camping, and mountain biking.

Hiking trails lead visitors to the 200 plus sandstone arches in the area and the trails vary in levels of difficulty for all hikers.  You have so many places to explore while hiking Arches National Park you could hike for days and not see everything.  The most popular trail is by far Delicate Arch which is a 3 mile round-trip trek across the desert’s slick rock.  The path is anything but shaded and the hot sun beats down unmercifully on hikers.  You should heed the park’s advice and bring lots of water on this trail; you will need it when the summer temperatures are 100 degrees or more.  The Fiery Furnace is another good hike, but one that requires a permit and a ranger to accompany hikers.  If there aren’t enough trails here for you another national park is nearby, Canyonlands.

Delicate Arch, Arches National Monument, Utah

Delicate Arch, Arches National Monument, Utah

Arches national park is located near the city of Moab and the Colorado and Green Rivers.  Adventurers in the area can enjoy all of the water activities that are available like river rafting down the white water rapids.  Families can head over to enjoy calmer waters if the rapids are too much.

You can also go mountain biking or off-roading in the area.  Many mountain bikers from all over the world come here to enjoy the trails offered and they also have various degrees of difficulty depending on your expertise. Many businesses in the area cater to visitors by offering ATV and jeep rentals for the area’s extensive off road trails.

Campers too will enjoy visiting here.  There are plenty of places to pitch your tent.  Just remember the area can be busy during the summer and holidays so make sure you reserve a campsite.  You don’t want to get there and find out there aren’t any spots left.  Also, temperatures are very hot in the summer but it does snow here in the winter.  You want to be equipped for whatever conditions you might face.

Regardless of the reasons you decide to visit this area you won’t be let down.  You will have plenty of adventures and can enjoy all the outdoors has to offer.

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Unusual Fossil Occurrence in Travertine

A number of years ago, when I was an undergraduate student, I had the privilege of going with my adviser on many trips in the field. I learned more on those trips than I think I did in the classroom. On one trip he took me to several hot springs in the Black Rock desert of central Utah, and I got to observe the deposition of travertine first-hand.

Black Rock travertine

Black Rock travertine

Travertine is a carbonate deposit most often associated with hot springs. As the water travels through the Earth and is heated by some deep, magma source, and then circulates back to the surface, it dissolves a host of minerals. On the surface, through either evaporation or the action of microbes the minerals precipitate out of the water, slowly building up layer upon layer of stone. The vesicles and contaminates of the travertine give is unique and interesting texture, and thus make it a popular decorative stone for tiles.
Several years prior to my visit with my professor, he was there with another student and they studied the travertine and hot springs of the region, and they found the remains of a fossil bird, an American Avocet, preserved in the stone. It seems that the bird had died in one of the hot springs, and the travertine formed around the bird’s skeleton, preserving impressions of feathers as well as the bones of the body.

American Avocet skeleton preserved in travertine

American Avocet skeleton preserved in travertine

In addition to the bird, remains of insects in the travertine were common. These fossils give new meaning to the term set in stone.

For other stories on travertine, see:
An introduction to travertine tiles
Advice on installing travertine tiles

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