The Upheaval Dome Trail is a moderately easy path to explore in one of the most picturesque areas to be found on the southwest end of the Island In The Sky high mesa. There are a few strenuous uphill stretches to contend with that can leave a hiker winded in the high elevation, but maintaining a leisurely pace will ensure no dizzy spells. In fact, hiking at a slow pace is usually the only option because this is one of the most heavily trafficked foot trails in Canyonlands National Park. None of this is much of a bother, simply because every ten steps will reveal a new majestic view that is well worth stopping to admire!
After finishing the steep ascent from the parking lot, the Upheaval Dome Trail soon reaches an apex and the views looking west extend deep into the horizon. This end of the high mesa overlooks the Green River Basin and the distant Canyonlands Maze District, which is difficult to access. The trail then goes over bare sandstone and when looking around it becomes obvious that some extreme geological forces took place long ago. This end of the mesa was subject to a massive upheaval, which is similar to the massive Kane Creek Anticline just a few miles east. The trail goes over the gigantic sandstone domes that border upon the actual anticline, which looks like a blast crater in the center. The crater goes through several layers of both sedimentary and mineralized bedrock, so the star shaped blast pattern is as colorful as can be.
There are several theories as to how the Upheaval Dome came to be and most agree that a large meteor was the cause, even though very little evidence exists. As the story goes, the soft sandstone rock was vaporized upon impact and any pieces of the meteor have long since washed away. There are more theories concerning the origin and just like with the impact hypothesis, there really is not enough evidence remaining for proof. What this all adds up to is the first view of the Upheaval Dome certainly will be intriguing, so be prepared to spend some extra time pondering over this famous geological oddity!
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