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Upheaval Dome Trail, UT

Guide 8 Triplogs  0 Topics
  3.3 of 5 
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 1.8 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,676 feet
Elevation Gain 200 feet
Accumulated Gain 400 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 1 hour
Kokopelli Seeds 3.8
Backpack Connecting Only
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
14  2016-04-21
Island in the Sky Canyonlands
6  2014-09-27 AZWanderingBear
Author PaleoRob
author avatar Guides 168
Routes 225
Photos 5,981
Trips 1,093 map ( 2,433 miles )
Age 40 Male Gender
Location Grand Junction, CO
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Oct, May, Apr, Sep → Any
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  5:21am - 7:31pm
0 Alternative

View a Jurassic Impact!
by PaleoRob

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Overview: Upheaval Dome, in Canyonlands National Park, has long been viewed as an eroded salt upwelling. Recent evidence has caused scientists to reevaluate it's true origins. No matter how it formed, the Upheaval Dome Trail offers a great way to look at some interesting geological phenomena!

Warning: The trail is hot, dry, and exposed. Bring lots of water and take caution if you are visiting during the summer. The National Park Service specifically warns against building new cairns as well.

History: For many years, the origin of the Upheaval Dome has been a subject of some debate. Most geologists that visited in the 20th century regarded Upheaval Dome to be an eroded salt daipir. This would explain the steeply dipping rock beds found in the center of the Dome. In addition, salt upwellings are known around this area of the Colorado Plateau.

In the latter part of the 20th century, this view began to change. Starting in the mid-late 1980's, scientists began to examine the salt hypothesis in greater detail and found no evidence of the presence of any salt related minerals. Meanwhile people like Walter Alvarez and Shoemaker began testing for evidence that perhaps Upheaval Dome was a meteorite impact crater. As the 20th century drew to a close, data was mounting to support the meteorite impact hypothesis, but the idea was far from certain.

The first decade of the 21st century saw the data pile up further, with the final straw coming in 2008 with the discovery of shocked quartz. There are only two ways to make shocked quartz, which is normal quartz subjected to very sudden pressure and heat: a nuclear explosion or a meteorite impact. As only one of these events is natural, and none are related to salt, this pretty much sealed the case.

So, 170 million years ago, after the Navajo dune sea had been covered by a swampy environment, a rock or comet the size of the Empire State Building plunged into Earth's atmosphere. Moving at over 13,000 miles per hour, the bolide struck the wet ground with tremendous force, blasting out thousands of tons of mud, dirt, and rock. Local life would have been devastated.

Hike: The hike starts from the paved parking area and follows the well-marked trail into the crater. There is an overlook almost half a mile into the hike, where you can look into the interior of the Upheaval Dome crater. Following the trail along further, you come to a second overlook, fenced, where you get a better view of the crater. The trail ends here. When you are done viewing the crater, turn around and head back to your vehicle. If you want a closer look inside the crater, you can hike the Syncline Loop Trail (described elsewhere) to the Crater Spur Trail, but this is not accessible off of the Upheaval Dome Trail.

Water Sources: None, bring your own.

Camping: Allowed in designated spots within the park, including at the Syncline Campsite, a backpacking site on the northwest side of the crater. No spots exist along the Upheaval Dome Trail, however.

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2011-09-20 PaleoRob
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WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Permit $$

Canyonlands National Park
Vehicles: $10 (Good for 7 days)

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
From Moab, take US191 north to UT 313. Turn left onto UT313 and follow for 14.6 miles, past the Deadhorse State Park turnoff, until you reach Island in the Sky road. Take this road to County Road 142, and then on 142 to Grand View Point. You will eventually make a right off of Grand View Point Rd. onto Upheaval Dome Rd. The trailhead is at the end of the road.
page created by PaleoRob on Sep 20 2011 11:09 pm
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