Canyon Country: A World of Sandstone


Rebecca Bloomfield writes, If you enjoy hiking in the desert red rock without driving all the way to Utah, then I have a place for you.

If you enjoy hiking in the desert red rock without driving all the way to Utah, then I have a place for you. I drove with my grandparents and my brother to Colorado National Monument near Grand Junction. Colorado National Monument is a network of colorful sandstone canyons carved out of the Colorado Plateau by water. Arches, Canyonlands, and Bryce Canyon national parks are also located on the greater Colorado Plateau. Independence Monument, a huge monolith (isloated tall rock formation),makes the Monument unique. As we passed the entrance gate we entered a large canyon. The canyon walls rose majestically on either side. A red sandstone balanced rock stands on one side and dark iron marks streak the sandstone wall on the opposite side. Little beams of sunlight drifted through the cloudy skies so that Wedding Canyon was almost glowing. It is called Wedding Canyon because John Otto, the founder of Colorado National Monument, loved the canyon so much he got married there. We drove along the twisted road on the edge steep canyon walls and through two tunnels carved right out of the rock before arriving at Alcove trailhead. My brother and I both picked up trail maps and we started down the trail. Alongside the trail were Juniper pines and a large sandstone hill. Blue sky peeped out from behind the clouds. Lumpy mineral deposits and intricate patterns of holes decorated the sandstone. Some of the holes looked as round and as smooth as a bowl. We looked over Wedding Canyon. Trailside posts with numbers referred us to sections in our trail guide. I learned that the ant lion digs a tunnel and waits for an insect particularly an ant, to fall in. When the ant falls in, the sand slides underneath the ant bringing it straight into the ant lion’s jaws. We spied about 25 ant lion nests in a sandstone overhang. Swirling patterns swept across the sandstone. These marks were created by the wind blowing the sand different directions over many years. Finally, we reached a narrow tunnel into the rock. We passed single file through the tunnel before arriving in a circular rock room. The walls rose more than 40 feet on every side. Sunlight filtered through. We stayed awhile, then hiked back to the car with dusty shoes and great memories.


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