Scenic USA - Utah

Aztec Butte Arches

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Aztec Butte Arches - Island in the Sky, Canyonlands National Park, San Juan County, Utah

Photo by Lynn Radeka
Copyright © Lynn Radeka-All rights reserved.
Lynn Radeka Photography

     Utah's distinct desert lands are recognized from afar by a glow of orange and red slickrock, vast cliffs of sandstone, and towering buttes in all directions. Up close, the exposed rock-land is seen covered in small clumps of grasses, cactus and the very tenacious juniper tree. Here among the sandstone and juniper, an even closer look reveals remnants of a lost civilization of Anasazi peoples, leaving their pictographs on rock walls and granaries tucked into high cliff walls. These ancient wonders are found scattered throughout the Southwest.
     Here in the Island of the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park desert explorers may find many sites that contain Anasazi ruins and pictographs. The park entrance road, entering from the north, reaches a "Y" at Willow Flat where park visitors may flip a coin to see if they'll travel to Grand View Point or Upheaval Dome. Here at the "Y", Aztec Butte is Aztec Butte - Island in the Sky, Canyonlands National Park a prominent landmark and offers a delightful climb to a 1000 year old granary and a pair of naturally sculpted arches. These natural sandstone arches create two large picture windows and a marvelous viewpoint that looks out over a beautiful desert landscape. One of a handful of short and unique hikes in the area, the Aztec Butte Trail is estimated to be a two mile roundtrip up the south face, over the top, and down to the first ledge. The slickrock trail leads to this fascinating arches view, one of the park's many natural wonders. Other nearby short hikes lead to Mesa Arch, Whale Rock and Upheaval Dome.

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