BOBBY MAGILL

Journalist • Photographer

Bobby Magill is a journalist and photographer based in Port Jervis, NY and Alexandria, Va.

Filtering by Tag: Canyonlands National Park

Greeted by Ghosts in Horseshoe Canyon

Some look like aliens. Others look screaming phantoms. One, called the Holy Ghost, looks like a crowned king. Last weekend, my friends and I finally visited the Great Gallery of Horseshoe Canyon after many years of putting the trip on the calendar and either getting rained out (the road is impassible when extremely wet) or snowed out.

Perhaps 3,000 years old, the pictographs that compose the 200 foot wide Great Gallery embue Horseshoe Canyon with a sense of history nearly unparalelled anywhere north of the Mexican border. Visiting the canyon is an incredible experience as long as you bring an appreciation of history along with you on the hike.

Several things to know about Horseshoe Canyon: It's way the hell far from everywhere and 32 miles from the nearest asphalt. It has signs of possibly more than 11,000 years of human habitation (and visitation). It was once called Barrier Canyon, and its pictographs are some of the most extraordinary examples of their kind anywhere. It was Aaron Ralston's escape route after he cut off his arm in Blue John Canyon, which spills into Horseshoe. It's a satellite unit of Canyonlands National Park. And, its rim is inexplicably within cell phone and Facebook range, likely because it's within a long-distance view of Green River, Utah. Its position strategically within Facebook is much to the region's discredit, which means it's not nearly as remote as it seems. But that's another issue.

The hike is short, about seven miles round trip. It's sandy, so if you go, be prepared to hike  uphill on sand on an old oil and gas exploration road and at the sandy bottom of a wash.

Cutting (Gutting?) the Caretakers of Canyon Country

I just ran across this story from Channel 8 in Grand Junction which speculates about how federal budget cutting will force Colorado National Monument to cut costs and possibly reduce services. Of course, nobody knows just yet specifically how any National Park Service budget cuts would impact the NPS's ability to manage national parks and provide services to visitors.

The KJCT story reminded me that the National Parks Conservation Association just released a report about how gutting the NPS budget will impact your local national parks. The NPCA speculates that science programs forming the backbone of the park service's conservation efforts could be gutted or eliminated; visitor centers could reduce hours or close altogether and a slew of other changes could drive tourists away from parks. The report is well worth a read.

That report and the Utah-based film, "Plan 10 from Outer Space" ("Rocky Horror meets the Mormons!"), which a friend of mine showed us last night, got me thinking about canyon country. November is a fine time to visit Canyonlands National Park and Colorado National Monument, though I'd avoid Moab over Thanksgiving because on the lonely Thanksgiving evening I spent there a few years ago, I discovered the only available food was at the local Denny's, where the line was 50 people deep.

It was about this time four years ago when my friend Chas and I hiked the Rattlesnake Arches in the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness west of Grand Junction. It's a mighty fine hike through the highest concentration of natural arches in the world outside of Arches National Park, which is just down the highway.

But my favorite hike in the region is Mee Canyon, where you will find yourself suddenly in the giant Mee Canyon Alcove, where the wash at the bottom of the canyon inserts itself 300 into the canyon wall, creating a cave-like alcove said to be the largest or, at least, one of the largest anywhere on the Colorado Plateau. November is an excellent month to visit. Check out my photo album of my 2007 hike into Mee Canyon here.