Eastern Mojave Vegetation Utah Highway 12  
 

Tom Schweich  

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Literature Cited
 (No Preface)

Other articles: Utah Highway 24 55000  

Junction: Utah Highway 24

 

Literature Cited:
- Smith, Beatrice Scheer, 1994.

Other articles: Field Notes 8 Oct 2017

Locations: Larb Hollow.  

Larb Hollow Overlook

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Interpretive panel at Larb Hollow Overlook.
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Turning aspens at Larb Hollow Overlook
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View across Waterpocket Fold to San Rafael Desert
Overlook of Larb Hollow with a Forest Service pooper.

The Henry Mountains were also visible to the southwest, but the photograph was looking into the sun and poor quality.

Early Explorers: Filling in the Blanks

Ellen Thompson, Expedition Botanist

Ellen Thompson, wife of A. H. Thompson and sister of John Wesley Powell, served as botanist on the second Powell Expedition. She collected hundreds of plants, many of them new to science. Several were named in her honor, including Thompson's Penstemon (Penstemon thompsoniae) and Thompson's Woolly Locoweed (Astragalus mollissimum var. thompsoniae). Mount Ellen, in the Henry Mountains, is also named for her.

“I never felt more exultant in my life I was looking on the most wonderful scenery I ever beheld.”

Andrus Expedition, 1866

“ as far as the Eye can see a naked barren plain of red and white Sandstone crossed in all directions by innumerable gorges ” -- Franklin B. Woolley, Andrus Expedition, 1866.

Several years before the Powell Expedition, the Andrus military expedition patrolled the Aquarius Plateau region, providing the first written descriptions of this area.

Mapping the Last Uncharted Lands

By 1870, the continental United States had been mapped and surveyed, except for one area -- the vast region that surrounds you. From the Colorado River to the Aquarius Plateau, and from the Virgin River to the Green, this rugged landscape was uncharted territory.

Though the Fremont Expedition passed through Capitol Reef during the winter of 1853-54, they were desperately low on provisions and did not linger to survey the region. In 1872, John Wesley Powell launched his second expedition down thw Green and Colorado Rivers to chart the Rivers and surrounding lands. Over the next four years, his brother-in-law, Almon H. Thompson, led the land survey of southern Utah, during which he explored and charted Boulder Mountain and the rest of the Aquarius Plateau. The expedition also named and mapped the Escalante River and the Henry Mountains, respectively the last-mapped river and mountain range in the lower 48 states.

Other articles: Field Notes 8 Oct 2017
Full Size ImageTurning aspens on Boulder Mountain  

Aspens

Other articles: Field Notes 8 Oct 2017

Locations: Point Lookout.
Full Size ImageView south from Boulder Mountain  

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Interpretive panel
Southerly view of Circle Cliffs.

Lay of the Land: Across a Vast Horizon

“To a life that accepts Nature's hand in sculpting an individual expression – Nothing is exempt.

From the mellifluous rhythm and tome of the wid chime, to the transitional form of the cloud – Nothing exists alone.

All things thrive and whither in confluence with one another.

So it is; the paradox of our divinity.”

– Dave Buschow

Waterpocket Fold

The 100-mile-long Waterpocket Fold forms the backbone of Capitol Reef National Park. Here, geologic rock layers drape over a steeply dipping fault plane. Over millennia, water and wind have eroded the soft layers, sculpting the Waterpocket Fold's intricate contours. Along the Fold, water collects in sandstone basins, forming “waterpockets.”

Circle Cliffs

Within this section of Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument lie huge petrified wood logs, some nearly 90 feet long. These rocks formed from trees that grew some 210 million years ago. The logs were buried in river sediments and became “petrified” as silica from volcanic ash gradually replaced organic cell tissue.

The Heart of the Escalante

“The Aquarius should be described in blank verse and illustrated upon canvas. The explorer who sits upon the brink of its parapet looking off into the southern and eastern haze, who skirts its lava cap or clambers up and down its vast ravines, who builds his camp fire by the borders of its snow-fed lakes or stretches himself beneath its giant pines and spruces, forgets that he is a geologist and feels himself a poet.”

– Clarence Dutton, 1880

The wild heart of the Escalante River drainage spreads before you – a labyrinth of canyons, mesas, and rolling slickrock. Remote peaks grace the horizon. On the far left lie the Henry Mountains, the last-named mountain range in the continental United States and home to one of the country's few free-roaming bison herds. Follow the horizon south, and you'll reach the rounded dome of Navajo Mountain on the Utah-Arizona border.

 

   

Boulder

 

Other articles: Road 1668 "Burr Trail" at UT Hwy 12  

Junction: Road 1668 "Burr Trail Road"

Other articles: Field Notes 7-Jun-08 near Boulder
Full Size ImageView of Boulder from south.  

Other articles: Field Notes 7-Jun-08 south of Boulder
Full Size ImageView north toward Boulder  

Other articles: Field Notes 7-Jun-08 near Boulder 8 Oct 2017

Locations: The Hogback.
Full Size ImageCalf Creek from UT Hwy 12.  

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Boulder Creek below Utah Highway 12

Other articles: Utah Highway 12 on UT Hwy12

Locations: Head of the Rocks.  

Head of Rocks Overlook

Highway Overlook, on the route of the 2nd Powell Expedition from Henrieville.

Other articles: Frasera albomarginata near Escalante  

5 miles east of Escalante.

Holmgren and Nielsen (#7723 UC943237) collected Frasera albomarginata five miles east of Escalante on rocky places in Pinyon-Juniper.

Other articles: Field Notes 7-Jun-08 near Escalante
Full Size ImageView of the Straight Cliffs near Escalante  

Other articles: Hole-in-the-Rock Road at UT Hwy 12  

Junction: Hole-in-the-Rock Road

Other articles: Field Notes 7-Jun-08 in Left Hand Collet Canyon 7-Jun-08 near Escalante
Full Size ImageHole-in-the-Rock Scenic Byway  

 

 

Locations: Escalante.  

Escalante

 

Other articles: Field Notes 8 Oct 2017
Full Size ImageEscalante Outfitters, supplies and food
Full Size ImageWestern end of Escalante  

Escalante Outfitters, supplies and food.

Other articles: Field Notes 7-Jun-08

Locations: Escalante Petrified Forest State Park.
Full Size ImageEntrance to Escalante Petrified Forest State Park  

Escalante Petrified Forest State Park.

Other articles: Field Notes 7-Jun-08

Locations: Wide Hollow Reservoir.
Full Size ImageWide Hollow Reservoir near Escalante Petrified Forest State Park.  

Wide Hollow Reservoir north of the highway.

Other articles: Field Notes 20080608030
Full Size ImageSummit on Utah Highway 12  

View east on Utah Highway 12 from the viewpoint.

Other articles: Field Notes 8-Jun-08 in Utah 8 Oct 2017 Utah Highway 12 at Head of Rocks

Locations: Powell Point.
Full Size ImagePowell Point from Utah Highway 12  

Powell Point Vista

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Interpretive sign at highway viewpoint.
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Powell Point from Utah Highway 12 (2017)
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Interpretive plaque on the Second Powell Expedition
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Interpretive plaque about the Kaiparowits Formation
Powell Point from the viewpoint.

Landmark in History

John Wesley Powell ... The name alone invokes thoughts of adventure, bravery, exploration, and men pitted against nature. Powell expeditions of 1869-1872 on the Green and Colorado Rivers have sparked the imaginations of readers and river runners for more than a hundred years.
Powell's explorations were more than adventures. They provided valuable information about unmapped regions. Powell Point was used as a landmark survey point by the Powell Expedition. Powell Point dominates the landscape, rising 10,188 feet above sea level.

Second Powell Expedition: Charting New Territory

Powell Point Recollections

“We still keep Table Mountain (Pink Point) to our left this singular mountain suggests a monster melon, sliced and standing on end. It is exactly the color of a ripe, red core; the pines that grow on ledges and benches, black specks at this distance, look like weeds.”

– Walter Clement Powell, member of the Second Powell Expedition of 1871, describing their ascent of the Blues Formation to the base of Powell Point.

The Topmost Stair

Powell Point reveals the topmost layer of the Colorado Plateau's Grand Staircase. This brilliantly colored layer, known as the Pink Cliffs or Claron Formation, is the same geologic layer that forms the spectacular, pinnacled landscape of Bryce Canyon National Park and Red Canyon, farther west on Highway 12.

Last Blank Spot on the Map

In 1871, this region was part of the last uncharted territory in the continental United States. That year, Major John Wesley Powell launched the Second Powell Expedition to explore and map this frontier, continuing the work he had begun three years earlier. Powell led the expedition safely through the wild waters of the Green and Colorado Rivers to the Paria River. He then instructed his brother-in-law Almon H. Thompson to lead the expedition overland to map what they called “the unknown country.” In 1872, expedition members climbed the slippery slopes of the badlands on which you now stand. Thompson then scaled the brilliant pink formation above you to view the surrounding country. Over the next four years, Thompson's explorations filled in this last blank spot on the U. S. map. In 1879, surveyor Clarence Dutton named this spectacular landmark “Powell Point,” in honor of Major Powell. Highway 12 now follows the 2nd Powell Expedition's exact route from Henrieville all the way to Head of the Rocks, east of Escalante.

Digging for Dinosaurs: Treasure in These Hills

Why Here?

The Kaiparowits Formation's stunning fossil record results from a perfect combination of circumstances. First, during the Late Cretaceous, this region was a lush, subtropical, coastal plain where an enormous number and variety of animals lived. Second, abundant rivers and coastal storms moved great volumes of sand and mud, so animals that died were sometimes buried quickly, preserving their remains. Lastly, uplifting of the Colorado Plateau over the past 60 million years has brought this deeply buried treasure to the surface.

Scientific Frontier

In a region famed for once being the last unmapped frontier in the continental United States, the Kaiparowits Formation remains a largely unexplored frontier. By protecting the fossils of this formation through proper collection and study, Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument conserves a vast storehouse of knowledge available nowhere else on earth.

Kaiparowits Fossil Bonanza

There's treasure beneath your feet. Not of the gold-and-rubies variety, but rather a treasure of fossilized bones, eggshells, and other paleontological gems, buried in these gray rock formations some 73-77 million years ago. Known as the Kaiparowits Formation, these sedimentary rock layers lie at the top of what is perhaps the best and most continuous record of Late Cretaceous terrestrial life in the world.

Forty-foot long crocodiles, rhinoceros-like horned dinosaurs. tyrannosaurs, and velociraptors – all lived here. Scientists have surveyed only a small fraction of the Kaiparowits Formation, and have unearthed more than one hundred species of vertebrates. Excavations are revealing a long-lost ecosystem inhabited by a fantastic array of animals, including some of the earliest marsupial and placental mammals ever found. These disoveries are helping to explain the origins of our present world.

Other articles: Field Notes 8-Jun-08 on UT Hwy 12
Full Size ImageView of the cliffs at Bryce Canyon National Park.  

View of Bryce Canyon National Park from view point.
  Summit, 7600 feet.

Literature Cited:
- Retallack, Gregory J., 2009.  

Near this location, just below the summit is a paleosol collection site in the Upper Cretaceous Kaiparowits Formation used by Retallack in his 2009 study of greenhouse crises of the past 300 million years. The location is described as "The Blues." Retallack used stomatal index data for fossil Ginko and related leaves as a proxy for past CO2 spikes and paleosol chemical data as proxies for temperature and humidity changes. These data show that global warming due to CO2 rise is a not a unique event in earth history and that the magnitude of the coming anthropogenic greenhouse pales in comparison with past greenhouse spikes at times of global mass extinctions.

 

 

Literature Cited:
- Retallack, Gregory J., 2009.

Locations: Henrieville.  

Henrieville

Near this location is a paleosol collection site used by Retallack in his 2009 study of greenhouse crises of the past 300 million years. Retallack used stomatal index data for fossil Ginko and related leaves as a proxy for past CO2 spikes and paleosol chemical data as proxies for temperature and humidity changes. These data show that global warming due to CO2 rise is a not a unique event in earth history and that the magnitude of the coming anthropogenic greenhouse pales in comparison with past greenhouse spikes at times of global mass extinctions.

Other articles: Cottonwood Canyon Road at Cannonville  

Junction: Cottonwood Canyon Road, to Kodachrome Basin State Park and Grosvenor Arch, then south through Cad's Crotch to US Highway 89.

 

   

Cannonville

 

 

   

Tropic

 

Other articles: Field Notes 8 Oct 2017
Full Size ImagePowell Point from the roadside near Tropic  

View of Powell Point to the east.
 
Bryce Canyon National Park below
  Bryce Canyon National Park above
  Junction: Utah Highway 63, south into Bryce Canyon National Park.
  Tunnel
  Tunnel
  Red Canyon Visitor Center

Other articles: U. S. Hwy 89 at UT Hwy 12  

Junction: Utah Highway 89,
  • North to Panguitch.
  • South, to many places.

 

 

   

Literature Cited

  A list of all literature cited by this web site can be found in the Bibliography.
  Retallack, Gregory J. 2009. Greenhouse crises of the past 300 million years. GSA Bulletin. 121(9/10):1441-1455. {TAS-pdf}
  Smith, Beatrice Scheer. 1994. The 1872 Diary and Plant Collection of Ellen Powell Thompson. Utah Historical Quarterly. 62(Spring):104-131.
If you have a question or a comment you may write to me at: tas4@schweich.com I sometimes post interesting questions in my FAQ, but I never disclose your full name or address.  


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Date and time this article was prepared: 11/24/2017 11:17:43 AM