Fantastical Fantasy Canyon

It started with Goblin Valley. The name caught my attention, of course, and when I looked it up to see what it was like, I was even more intrigued. Then Chad told me that there was a place not too far from here that was similar, with strange, fragile rock formations. Fantasy Canyon, the place was called.

He warned me it was in oil country, surrounded by oil wells. That did not prepare me for our drive, going past oil well after oil well, and apparently at least one hydraulic fracturing set up as well. About a mile or so from our destination we drove past incredibly beautiful and fascinating landforms – badlands and hoodoos – that were backdrops for pumpjacks and oil storage tanks. Just the beauty of the place could have easily qualified it to be a national park; alas, it would mostly be scenery to the oil and gas crews, and the 5000 visitors per year to the BLM site.

Once arrived at Fantasy Canyon the oil wells were only visible in the mid-distance. A path bordered by rocks led us through the site to admire the strange sandstone formations. Well it kind of did. In places the path was well designated, in other places it was hard to tell what was path and what was off-limits. We walked cautiously so as not to disturb these ancient deposits, some of which were named for animals (diving porpoise) or characters (flying witch).

Visiting this site made it even more clear to me why Chad is such a passionate defender of wilderness. When land is not protected, even land of extreme geological interest such as Fantasy Canyon, instead of remaining a resource of beauty, education and wildlife habitat, it can easily become an industrial casualty. Fantasy Canyon is still intact, but with deep rock fracturing fracking operations nearby, who knows how long it will remain so?

Desert hike in the Uintah Basin

For labor day we decided to go for a hike in one of Chad’s favorite desert canyons. He’d been telling me about this place, but I’d been slightly put off from getting excited about it because of a big stretch of power lines that were near the entrance. His enthusiasm for the location, however, convinced me and I knew I would have to at least give it a try. Happily, it wasn’t long before we were out and away from all signs of power lines. This was a fun hike that got my heart thumping and made me feel alive. We saw a hoodoo (my first, up close!) and a great horned owl. And didn’t see anyone else for our whole hike. We did some wild yoga along the way. Chad followed our progress on his map and let me choose the way back. There is no comparison to hiking in such wild, remote and beautiful areas.