The Monument Uplift caused Cedar Mesa Sandstone to crack as it bent upward, forming a series of fractures (called joints) that trend from east to west
How sedimentary rock weathers depends largely on its exposure to water; an erosion-resistant caprock of White Rim Sandstone may protect a weaker layer of shale until only a thin spire remains
As surface layers of the Paradox Formation moved in the opposite direction of the Monument Uplift, another series of fractures formed trending from north to south
Black, brown and deep purple streaks on rock faces are created by iron oxide, manganese oxide, and clay interacting with bacteria and water
Cedar Mesa Sandstone was deposited during the Permian Period (245 to 286 M years ago) as local sand dune sediments mixed with dark red sediments from the ancient Uncompahgre Mountains
Wind blown sand formed the white bands in Cedar Mesa Sandstone; sediments washed from the Grand Junction area would create the red bands
Large snowfalls are uncommon in the Needles, but even small amounts can make travel over slickrock very difficult
Druid Arch - located at the head of Elephant Canyon
Travel is fairly intuitive through washes, though entry and exit points can come abruptly and are easy to miss
By 1200 A.D. large communities had beeb established in the Needles District, though changing weather patterns made agriculture difficult, and by 1300 A.D., migration continued south
Potholes collect water and sediments, forming tiny ecosystems that support microscopic invertebrates
Blackbrush roots in shallow soil and can live to be thousands of years old; it's named for the tendency of branches to darken when wet
The uplifting of this Canyonlands region, now known as the Colorado Plateau, marked a shift from a depositional environment to one of erosion.
A narrow slot on the way into Elephant Canyon from Elephant Hill
The Needles District is comprised of multiple sandstone layers - each representative of a different geologic point in time
Over 200 M years ago this area was a dune field on the east edge of a shallow inland sea that stretched all the way to California
The less traveled, snow-capped La Sal Mountains - framed by the striking, multi-hued Colorado Plateau that comprises Canyonlands. The La Sal Mountains are only 9 miles west of the Colorado border in Utah.
Tight slots in Big Spring Canyon require no fear of close quarters. These slots can be as narrow as 3 feet yet over a hundred feet deep.