Sandstone formation on the road to the Needles District in the southeast corner of Canyonlands National Park

Wooden Shoe Arch

Wooden Shoe Arch, visible on the horizon, has been here for thousands of years. But the rock it’s made of is much older.

During the Pennsylvanian age (300 million years ago) this area was inundated by an inland sea. As the water evaporated, it left behind a great salt basin into which many layers of sediments were deposited. Here red sediments from the mountains to the east intermixed with white coastal deposits. These sediments were later transformed into the red and white sandstone of the Cedar Mesa formation upon which you are now standing.

The buried salt, which flows under pressure and is dissolved by ground water, shifted under the sandstone, causing it to fracture. Weathering along the fractures carved Wooden Shoe Arch, and the other arches, spires, knobs, and fins visible today.

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Needles Overlook

NEEDLES OVERLOOK is on a paved county road that turns off US Highway 191 about seven miles north of Church Rock. At the Overlook, there are stunning views of the Needles and Island in the Sky Districts of Canyonlands National Park. The La Sal Mountains can be seen to the east in the distance.

The road to the Overlook crosses arid desert passing Windwhistle Campground and occasionally small groups of Pronghorn Antelope.

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Church Rock

Church Rock is a solitary column of sandstone with majestic views of the Colorado and Green River canyons. It is 200 ft. tall by 1,800 ft. around solitary piece of rock, composed of three different layers of Entrada Sandstone.

The name derives from its looks as some kind of church. There is disagreement, however, about the source of the 16 ft x 24 ft rectinlinear opening in its base.

It is an amazing formation of nature and very impressive to see first hand. And you can visit it our Tour 2 package.

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Newspaper Rock

Newspaper Rock State Historic Monument is a Utah state monument featuring a rock panel carved with one of the largest known collections of petroglyphs.

In Navajo, the rock is called “Tse’ Hone'” which translates to a rock that tells a story. The 200-square-foot (19 m2) rock is a part of the vertical Wingate sandstone cliffs that enclose the upper end of Indian Creek Canyon, and is covered by hundreds of petroglyph—one of the largest, best preserved and easily accessed groups in the Southwest. The petroglyphs feature a mixture of human, animal, material and abstract forms.

Newspaper Rock was designated a State Historical Monument in 1961 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places listings.

You can visit Newspaper Rock by taking our Tour 1 package.

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Edge of the Cedars

EDGE OF THE CEDARS (EOC) is a Utah State Park in Blanding, Utah and is a Pre-Columbian Pueblo Indian ruin with a partially excavated Pueblo on a 16 acre site with a re-constructed Kiva. This was an agricultural village with six living and ceremonial complexes that was inhabited from 700 AD to 1,200 AD, where a clear picture of ancient Anasazi architecture can be attained.

The EOC Museum is a repository for artifacts from the Four Corners. These are one-of-a-kind artifacts: a 950-year-old Macaw feather sash, a rare copper bell traded from Mexico, a pre-historic loom, and an ancient place setting of wooden plates and exquisitely made knives.

You can visit here in our Tour 3 package.

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Photograph Gap (Marie’s Place)

MARIE’S PLACE is named after Marie Ogden who was a wealthy, educated woman from Newark, New Jersey. Her husband died in 1925 from colon cancer. She, apparently, was unable to accept the finality of his death and entered into a massive depression. After several years of supposed study, she revealed that the “truth” was unfolded to her by Jesus Christ in messages she duly recorded using her typewriter. Marie was directed in 1932 to leave Newark and head west. In 1933, 21 of Ogden’s followers from Idaho came to her new community in Photograph Gap, Utah.

To further promote her message, she purchased the newspaper, the San Juan Record, in nearby Monticello in 1934 which subsequently burned in 1937 and she sold in 1949.

The members were to abstain from worldly goods, sexual relations, liquor, tobacco and meat except fish; they were not even to plant gardens.

Marie’s Home Of Truth was divided into three closely located sections or portals. The Outer Portal was a group of communal unpainted frame buildings for non-members and visitors to use. The Middle Portal, one mile east of the Inner Portal was intended to be the site of a large cobblestone church for members that was never finished (remains are visible today). The Inner Portal was located on a south facing hillside at Photograph Gap and contained the main cluster of buildings including Marie’s residence. It was considered by the members to lie directly upon the axis of the Earth, ensuring it would be spared destruction from Marie’s predicted “great final earthquake”.

Overall, 23 buildings constituted the colony which was sold in the early 70s to raise funds to take care of Marie in a nursing home in Blanding, Utah. Ogden’s personal possessions were sold in 1977. Today, most of the colony’s buildings remain and are attended to by a caretaker.

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Westwater Canyon

WESTWATER (CREEK) CANYON is the location of early Anasazi development. There is definite evidence that a Pueblo II site was here but was destroyed in the late 800s and re-constructed during Pueblo III period. It is believed the main construction of the ruin at this site took place about 1213.

The layout of this ruin is typical of the Pueblo III time. The broad flat area in the front was the location of the kivas with two story housing and storage rooms in the rear. Notice the rooms tucked into the ledge above. The masonry and overall design indicate that Mesa Verde Anasazi were involved.

Westwater Canyon is also the location of Nations Natural Bridge which is not as impressive as the bridges in Natural Bridges NM, and is part of Blanding’s Nations of the Four Corners Park which has the Prayer Arch. This natural bridge is off of the Westwater South Trail.

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Butler Wash Ruins

The BUTLER WASH RUINS were once a small Anasazi community also of the Pueblo III period. It was constructed in the 1200s and is also of the Mesa Verde style. This site was chosen probably because it is easily defended, and the inhabitants likely farmed further down the wash and in the bottom. Of the three alcoves here, the largest held multi-story sleeping and storage rooms. Of the four kivas on the rock plaza in the front, three are round of the Mesa Verde Anasazi style, the fourth located farthest to the north is square showing Kayenta Anasazi influence. The use of the other two alcoves is not clear, It is likely the southernmost alcove was used only for storage. There is no sign the other alcove was used for habitation, but there is a possibility that it was used for ceremonial purposes.

Another Anasazi cliff-dwelling sits in upper Butler Wash known as Target Ruins also known as Bullseye Ruins and nearby is another ruin called Ballroom Cave Ruin. These ruins are located in alcoves which hold the remains of what was once a fairly extensive set of structures, now in serious disrepair with most of the rooms gone. These alcoves also have a few petroglyphs and pictographs.

Butler Wash is on the eastern side of Comb Ridge and drains into the San Juan River a short distance west of Bluff, Utah. Comb Ridge is a classic example of a monocline and was an impossible barrier to wagon travel for the Hole-in-the-Rock Pioneers. It dips down towards the east and extends 70 miles to Kayenta, Arizona. Two roads cut through the steeply-tilted Navajo, Kayenta, Wingate and Chinle Sandstone rocks.

Visit the Butler Wash Ruins in Tour 3.

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Mule Canyon Ruin

MULE CANYON RUIN is an open Anasazi site consisting of both above-ground and below-ground ancient Indian dwellings consisting of a block of 12 rooms used by two or three families. The restored kiva was the ceremonial center of the Anasazi community like today’s Hopi Indians.

Additionally, there are remains of maybe a two story circular tower within a direct line-of-sight with the Cave Tower Ruins one mile to the southwest down Mule Canyon. The Cave Tower site consisted of seven round masonry towers surrounding a cave with a spring. All of the towers are in various stages of collapse – mostly rubble remaining.

Up Mule Canyon from these restored ruins are other Anasazi ruins. There are pictographs and 800 year-old ruins that have not been excavated or restored. The first ruin, 1.25 miles up the canyon, is the House On Fire.

If you want to visit Mule Canyon Ruin then join us on our Tour 3 package.

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Six Shooter Peaks

The Six Shooters are Wingate sandstone towers on sandstone alluvium slopes, also known as desert towers. These peaks are located just east of Canyonlands National Park in the famous Indian Creek crack climbing area. At elevations of 6,154 ft. and 6,374 ft., they offer some of the easiest climbing in Indian Creek.

Their iconic name comes from the famous pistol of the Wild West, the Six Shooter.  If looking at the top of the towers at a certain angle, the similarity to the gun becomes evident.