John Day Fossil Beds National Monument – The Clarno Unit ~ 32651 Highway 19, Kimberly, Oregon * Phone: (541) 987-2333 ~
The Clarno Unit is one of three sections of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument that was designated by the United States as an area of special concern in Wheeler and Grant counties of Eastern Oregon. It is located within the John Day River basin and operated by the National Parks Service. The focus of the protected area is its geology and paleontology specializing in well-preserved layers of fossilized materials including flora and fauna. Most found here date from the late Eocene around 45 million years ago to the late Miocene at 5 million years before present. The Other two units are Sheep Rock and Painted Hills. The total designated area is 13,944 acres of semi-desert shrub land, riparian zones, and badlands. It was originally visited by Native Americans such as the Sahaptin who hunted, fished, and gathered roots/berries in the region. Then came the Euro-American visitors who established ranches, farms, and small towns along the river. Under guidance of Thomas Condon in 1864, geologists and paleontologists began digging in the area and making the discoveries that the area is famous for today.
Clarno is the westermost of the three units and is approximately 1,969 acres roughly 18 miles west of Fossil along Oregon Route 218. A breathtaking rest stop along the scenic Journey through Time scenic byway in Oregon is the geological features known as the Pallisades. It is located roughly 18 miles west of Fossil, Oregon. These cliffs and land forms are created by prehistoric volcanic lahars (or volcanic mud flows) roughly 54-40 million years ago. This landscape was quite different at that time – a lush semi-tropical rainforest with jungles, vines, trees, shrubs and mega fauna. After the volcanic cataclysms, the environment was turned into the arid desert it is now. Fossil evidence depicts a vast arrange of plant life from leavaes, fruits, nuts, seeds, and petrified wood of over 173 species of trees, vines, shrubs, and other plants. Numerous faunal fossil remains of crocodiles, mini four-toed horses, huge rhino-like brontotheres, and meat-eating creodonts were found. There are three distinct hiking trails all under a mile in length demonstrating the fossil and geological record. Picnic tables and restrooms make for a restful stay. Drinking water is available from the rest stop May through September.
Journey Through Time Scenic Byway – Oregon ~ Oregon ~
This scenic route goes through parts of the state of Oregon spanning five counties and passing through Dayville, Mount Vernon, John Day, and Prairie City. It consists of Oregon Routes 7, 19, 26, 218 and U.S. Route 97 following much of the John Day River. Its purpose is to take tourists and drivers along the pioneer history of Oregon focusing on geology and paleontological history. It is 286 miles in length. You can start from Biggs along U.S. 97 through Shaniko to Antelope, then east on Oregon 218 to Fossil. Rest stop in John Day Fossil Beds National Monument then take it along Oregon 19 towards Kimberly, then east on U.S. 26 to Dayville, then through Mount Vernon, John Day, and Prairie City onwards east along Oregon 7 to Baker City. This route was established February 19, 1997 as a Oregon Scenic Byway.
One of my favorite parks, Carlsbad Caverns was like Disney World to me as a kid growing up in New Mexico. I certainly visited the caves as often as a Florida kid visits said theme park. As a “Rockhound” and Geology buff, I went there often on my own during high school, fascinated by the depths, the stalagtites, columns, and stalagmites. I still share the fascination at this world class cavern never bored on its fantastic features and creatures.
The Cavern is located about 18 miles southwest of Carlsbad in the Guadalupe Mountains of southeastern New Mexico. Anyone viewing the cave can hike in through the natural entrance, or if hiking disabled can take the elevator down to the bottom via the visitor center. The main chamber of the cavern that is the most famous is called “The Big Room” which is 4,000 feet long, 625 feet wide, and 255 feet high – as a large limestone chamber that is recorded as the fifth largest chamber in North America and the 28th largest in the world. There are over 119 caves and caverns in the park of which three are open to the public for tours but the main large show cave is the prime attraction. Slaughter Canyon Cave, New Cave, and Spider Cave are undeveloped with guided adventure caving tours available by reservation. Lechuguilla Cave has a prestine underground environment with delicate speleotems that once was used by guano miners. There have been over 120 miles of cave passages mapped and explored to a depth of 1600 feet.
The caverns were created roughly 250 million years before present when the area was once a coastline for an inland sea. At this time, there was a major reef called the Capitan Reef abundant with corals, sea creatures, and life. There are fossil records of Permian life including bryozoans, sponges, and other micro-organisms. Once the Permian period came and disappeared, most of the water evaporated leaving the reef buried in evaporites, sediments, and sands. There was great Tectonic action during the late Cenozoic which pushed the reef above ground, then it was hit by erosion, which sculpted the Guadalupe Mountains to how they are today.
As the water drained through the bed of limestone it was within the groundwater zone. The petroleum rserves were far beneath the limestones, and during the end of the Cenozoic, hydrogen sulfide (H2S) seeped upwards from the petroleum into the groundwater, combining with oxygen from the groundwater created sulfuric acid which continued upward dissolving the limestone deposits in its path creating caverns. The gypsum in the cave was the bbyproduct of this process when the sulphuric acid combine with the limestone. As the acidic groundwater drained from the caverns, speleothems deposited within the caverns and exposure to the influx of air into the cavern helped carve the caves we see today. As rain water and snow melt entered the cavern, it picked up carbon dioxide and as it reached the cavern ceiling precipitated and evaporated leaving calcium carbonate deposits that would grow dow from the roof as stalagites, this would create stalagmites, columns, soda straws, draperies, helictites, and popcorn features.
The cavern was first discovered by Euro-Americans in 1898 when Jim White, a teenage at the time, made a homemade wire ladder to climb down within – discovering the magical world before him. He assigned names to many of the rooms and features such as the Big Room, Queens Chamber, Papoose Room, Green Lake Room, Kings Palace, and New Mexico Room for the chambers, and Witches Finger, Totem Pole, Temple of the Sun, Fairyland, Rock of Ages, Giant dome, Bottomless Pit, Iceberg Rock for various formations.
Tourists were taken down into the caverns well before 1932 by means of a switchback ramp down to 750 feet and it was in 1932 that the visitor center was opened including an elevator for visitors who wore out easy or had difficulties walking down into the depths. They also built a cafeteria down below, gift shop, and restrooms. Millions of visitors now visit the caverns annually. The Guadalupe Room was discovered in 1966. Additional chambers and rooms were discovered in 1985 when new exploration techniques were invented discovering the chambers known as the Spirit World and the Baloon Ballroom. In 1993 a series of new smaller passages were explored that took the explorers well over a mile further discovering additional rooms outside of the New Mexico Room and being catalogued as “Chocolate High”. The bottom was discovered to the Bottomless Pit at 140 feet deep. In October 2013, a new large chamber was found hundreds of feet aboe the main area of the Spirit World and called “Halloween Hall” at 100 feet diameter with more than 1,000 bat bones on the floor.
They built a bat flight seating area so visitors could watch the bats fly out of the cave each evening with programs included and explanations of what is happening. There are often morning programs as well so that visitors can see the bats return to the cave. Most of the cave’s inhabitants are the Mexican free tailed bats who fly out each evening from the natural entrance to the nearest water sources. There have been recorded over 17 different species of bats in the park. The populations were estimated in the millions but much of the population has declined in recent years due to the use of DDT in the local surroundings by farmers and ranchers.
A recreation area detached from the park called “Rattlesnake Springs” picnic area is a natural oasis as a wooded riparian area in the desert, home to over 300 species of birds. The area is developed with landscaping, wildlife habitats, and picnic tables for visitors.
This amazing oasis in the middle of the desert outside of Carlsbad New Mexico is amongst my world’s favorite locations and cooling off zones. I grew up with the Cave and the pools from childhood, hanging out there with friends from high school, partying in the pools above, stealthily camping and cave exploring long before there were required permits and restrictive gates or access. It has changed quite a bit, but very much improved for recreation and protecting the natural resources on location. It is a day-use only site. The site has pavilions, picnic tables, water, and restrooms accessible. There are established hiking trails from the site. It is open from 8:30 am until 6 pm with a $5 per vehicle parking fee.
The site is a astonishing dream-like 150′ waterfall than pours over canyon walls with a stalactite/stalagmite filled cavern behind it, dumping down into crystal clear natural swimming pools beneath. It is one of a series of waterfalls found in this canyon lost within the Lincoln National Forest that are spring fed through a series of streams and pools until reaching its drop-off. Most of the river’s water disappears into cracks, gravel, and bedrock and reappears in springs further down the canyon eventually joining the Pecos Valley underwater aquifer.
The geology of the area is a remnant reef system known as the Capitan Great Barrier Reef dating from the Permian period around 250 million years ago when the region was the edge of an inland sea. The name of the falls has never been proven, but legend has it that the cave behind the falls was used by Sitting Bull to hide. The Apache called the area “gostahanagunti” meaning “hidden gulch”. In 1940, the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed number of stone buildings that are now part of the parking lot and picnic area. THere is a time capsule dated March 24, 1999 embedded into one of the buildings. The park was closed from APril 27, 2011 through April 6, 2012 after wildfires in the are destroyed the area making it unsafe.
There are numerous sacred pools above the falls which are great for swimming in. In order to explore the cave behind the waterfall or any of the other caves in the area, one needs proper equipment and obtain a permit.
The site is easy to get to, though quite a distance from Carlsbad so be ready for some bumpy dirt roads. Take US highway 285 north from Carlsbad, turn west on NM 137 for 20 miles to county road 409, turn right and continue to the site. Another turn-off is right across the highway from the turn-off to Bradford Lake State Park.
Garden of the Gods is a unique natural geological park that is located in Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs … and is a Registered National Natural Landmark. It’s open from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. in the summer and 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the winter. The park boasts over a million visitors a year or more.
History and Mythology
Where the Great Plains grasslands meet the low-lying pinon-juniper woodlands of the American Southwest at the base of the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains a geological upheaval occurred along the Trans-Rocky Mountain Fault system creating these spectacular features over a million years ago. Horizontal ancient beds of sandstone, limestone, and conglomerates were pushed and tilted vertically when the tectonic plates pushed together. Glaciations, wind, and water erosion shaped the features over hundreds of thousands of years.
This geologic feature was seen as sacred grounds by the original inhabitants of the area, potentially visited and used for spirituality possibly over 3,000 years ago to present. As early as 1330 B.C.E. evidence of human occupation has been found from petroglyphs, fire rings, pottery, and stone tools have been left behind. The Ute Indians claim that their people always had lived where Garden of the Gods Park now stands and their people were created there and around Manitou.
The Kiowa, Apache, Shoshone, Pawnee, Cheyenne, and Arapaho also claim their peoples visited or lived here. It was known as a pivotal crossroads and meeting place for many indigenous peoples and nomadic tribes gathered together for peace. Rivaling tribes were said to even have laid down their weapons before entering the shadows of the sandstone features.
Two sets of petroglyphs were found here – the first hidden in a crevice on the east side of South Gateway Rock depicting a circular shield-like figure divided into four parts with a rain cloud terrace image, a Thunderbird image, zigzag lines, and image of wheat or corn and a faint flower-like image with a dozen dots forming a semi-circle over its top which some experts said was done recently in the last 100 years copying Indian designs from a book. The other petroglyph is pecking in the rock discovered in the 1980’s and estimated to date to 1500 C.E. most likely an Ute Indian design potentially depicting a deer, a third of a buffalo head, and maybe a stone tool seemingly telling a story.
Alleged Native American legends of the site have been told, their authenticity unknown. Marion E. Gridley wrote in “Indian Legends of American Scenes” telling a tale about a great flood that covered all the mountains nearby Pikes Peak. As the waters receded, the Great Spirit petrified the carcasses of all animals killed by the flood into sandstone rolling them down into this valley as evidence of the Great Flood.
The second was written by Ford C. Frick saying “… in the nestling ales and on the grassy plains which lie at the foot of the Great White Mountain that points the way to heaven lived the Chosen People. Here they dwelt in happiness together. And above them on the summit of the Mighty Peak where stand the Western Gates of Heaven, dwelt the Manitou. And that the Chosen might know of his love the Manitou did stamp uon the Peak the image of his face that all might see and worship him … but one day as the storm clouds played about the Peak, the image of the Manitou was hid .. and down from the North swept a barbaric tribe of giants, taller than the spruce which grew upon the mountain side and so great that in their stamping strides they shook the earth. And with the invading host came gruesome beasts – unknown and awful in their mightiness – monstrous beasts that would devour the earth and tread it down … and as the invading hosts came on the Chosen Ones fell to the earth at the first gentle slope of mountain and prayed to Manitou to aid it. Then came to pass a wondrous miracle, the clouds broke away and sunshine smote the Peak and from the very summit, looking down, appeared the face of Manitou himself. And stern he looked upon the advancing host, and as he looked the giants and beasts turned to stone within their very steps … “
If this site was in Australia or Europe, it would be named castles and fortresses associated with Gods, Deities, Spirits, or Faeries.
Westerners first discovered the features in 1859 by two surveyors who were here to build Old Colorado City. M.S. Beach, one of the surveyors thought it would be a great location for a beer garden. The other surveyor replied to him stating “A Beer Garden? Why this is fit place for the Gods to assemble. We will call it Garden of the Gods”. General William Jackson Palmer who was known for his contributions of building Colorado Springs convinced his colleague Charles Elliot Perkins to buy the 240 acres embracing the features. In 1909 his children donated the land to the city of Colorado Springs.
The original family that donated the land to the public required that it would always remain free, and that is what it remains today. Garden of the Gods stands as a great park for hiking, walking, bicycling, rock climbing, picnicking, special events, and weddings … The park has it all … protected as 1,387 scenic acres … and presents itself as a unique tourist / information center, with a theater and gift shop near the entrance. Within are 15 miles of trails ranging in various levels of difficulty from beginner to advance for hiking and exercise.
A historical video greets you at the welcome center and tells the tale that began in the 1870’s when the railroads carved westward, when General William Jackson Palmer founded the city of Colorado Springs and upon discovering this natural beauty, urged his friend Charles Elliott Perkins, the head of Burlington Railroad, to make his home where the park now stands. He lived there until he finished his railway from Chicago to Colorado Springs. His railroad project wasn’t a success and never made its destination in the springs.
His homestead eventually became his summer home in 1879. He purchased 480 acres and never actualized building on it, leaving the land in its natural state and for the public. When he died in 1907, he made arrangements for the land to be a public park, and this was enacted by his children in 1909 forever as the Garden of the Gods “where it shall remain free to the public, where no intoxicating liquors shall be manufactured, sold, or dispensed, where no building or structure shall be erected except those necessary to properly care for, protect, and maintain the area as a public park.” That is exactly what they’ve done …. and its a beautiful place to be.
One of my favorite parts of Colorado is its great diversity in the ranges of the Rocky Mountains. One of those hotspots of “oddity” is the vast Sahara-like desert of sand dunes in the San Luis Valley. Of course California, New Mexico, and Arizona has tons of sand dunes – but Colorado’s is very unique, especially at the foot of snow-covered mountain peaks and being the tallest dunes in the United States. This geologic feature extends 5 x 7 miles with a grand height of 700 feet above the valley floor (over 7,600 feet above sea level). As early as 440,000 years ago, the dunes were formed from the Rio Grande River’s and associated tributaries flowing through the San Luis Valley. Over a period of several thousand years, and continually growing today, the westerly winds blow the sand over the Rockies and down along the river flood plain, collecting sand, and depositing them on the east edge of the San Luis Valley before the winds rise up and over the Sangre de Cristo mountain range shaping these huge stable dunes. There are also some parts of the dunes where patches of black sand can be found made up of magnetite deposits as crystalline iron black oxide. Medano Creek winds through the dunes as it is fed by melting snow from the mountains. It extends roughly 10 miles, flowing from spring and early summer from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and disappears into the floor of the valley. An unusual feature of the creek is that it never finds a permanent and stable streambed causing small underwater sand dunes that act like dams are continuously formed and destroyed, causing what seems like “surges” with “waves of water” flowing downstream with intervals of a few seconds to a few minutes, and can appear as large as a foot in height with an appearance of an “ocean wave”. The geological area is known as a “High Desert” with summer temperatures not typical of normal high desert lands, varying from high and low temperatures of exceedly cold nights (even below zero). There are also alpine lakes and tundra in the park, with six peaks over 13,000 feet in elevation, ancient spruces, pine forests, aspens, cottonwoods, grasslands, and wetlands. The park is also notated as being the quietest park in the United States. The park, is managed by the National Park Service, and has been a place of enjoyment under their reigns since November 2000 with over 85,000 acres. In 2004 it became known as the “Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve”. It can be reached west from Mosca along country road 6 North, or from the south along CO road 150. The park hosts a great visitor center, a campground, four wheel drive trails, restrooms, and picnic areas. The park is great for hiking, wading, sand castles, sandbox play, sunbathing, sand sledding, rough play, skimboarding, photoshoots, and ATV sports. Rating: 5 stars out of 5. Visited 7/12/2008. 2/16/2017. Review by Thomas Baurley, Leaf McGowan, Leafworks and Technogypsie Research/Review Services.
USC 3-D @ Three Rivers * Rachel Palmer – “Welcome Home” * South Riverfront Park Address : 312 Laurel Street, Columbia, SC * North Riverfront Park Address : 4210 River Drive, Columbia, SC *
A great little statue/monument that sits near the Christopher Columbus statue at the Columbia Canal in the Riverfront Park. Shows sedimentary layers of the rivers with deposits and artifacts. Beautifully sculpted and presented. A great piece for any geologist, archaeologist, or history buff. Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
By far, my most favorite place in Australia, Narooma is a panoramic sensation for the beach enthusiast. Think the historic Highway 101 Coastal Oregon route meets the Bahamas and you have “Narooma”. The Aborigine suitably called this area “Clear blue waters” and nothing more could be true. Crystal clear waters. A town of about 3,000 and a strip of geological wonders along the beach, this captures the contrast of earth and water perfectly. The rocks found near Narooma include the Narooma Chert that dates to Cambrian times. There are also underwater remains of a submarine volcano with pillow lava offshore. The Island known as “Montague Island”, now a National Park and Wildlife Refuge, is 8 kilometers offshore from Narooma and was one of the islands sighted by Captain Cook in 1770. The island has 8 known rainforests on it. The area brought white settlers for timber, gold, and fishing. It was declared a port in 1884, opened its first school in 1886, and its first post office in 1889, and originally was only accessed via the sea. By the 20th century, it became a major tourist destination and boomed in oyster farming. Then saw construction of the first major bridge to be constructed on the Princes Highway, improving access by road. In 1937, industry boomed again with a local cannery opening its doors to process tuna and salmon which eventually saw a drought of salmon causing the cannery to close its doors. Narooma was also home to the annual Great Southern Blues and Rockabilly Festival held in October until it moved to Batesman Bay in 2010. Rating 5 stars out of 5.
near Bushmills, Northern Ireland Tied into the legendary faerie lore with being created by Finn Mac Cool as a causeway to walk between Ireland and Scotland, the area is rich in myths and legends. A World Heritage site (UNESCO 1986), operated by the National Trust, the Giant’s Causeway consists of over 40,000 interlocking basalt columns that were caused by the result of a ancient volcanic eruption 50-60 million years ago. Intense volcanic activity caused highly fluid molten basalt to intrude through the chalk beds forming an extensive lava plateau. As the lava cooled quickly, contraction began with some in vertical directions that reduced the flow thickness, and horizontal contraction that was accommodated by cracking through the flow varying by lava speed forming the columns. In the heart of County Antrim on the northeast coast of Northern Ireland, the site is not very far from the infamous village of Bushmills. The site was discovered in 1693. It is considered to be the fourth natural wonder in the United Kingdom. Each of the hexagonal columns form stepping stones that lead from the cliff foot onward into the sea where they surface again into Scotland. Some of the columns reach heights upwards of 36 feet high. Most of the columns are hexagonal, though some have four, five, seven, and eight sides. Areas of solidified lava in the cliffs are up to 28 meters thick in some places. The area is infamous for the columns, stepping stones, myths, legends, the Giant’s Boot, and the Organ, the Giant’s Eyes, the Shepherd’s Steps, the Honeycomb, the Giant’s Harp, the Chimney Stacks, the Giant’s Gate, the Camel’s Hump, as well as a panoramic seaside view and beaches. Rating 5 stars out of 5.
Mauna Kea means “Mountain of the Deity Wakea” or “White Mountain”. It is one of the major 5 shield volcanoes that creates the Hawaiian Islands. The others in this chain are Kohala, Hualalai, Mauna Loa, and Kilauea. It is inactive. It is often called “White Mountain” because of it being consistently covered with snow during winter. Its peak reaches 13,803 feet above sea level but looms 33,476 feet above the ocean floor making it the world’s tallest mountain by that measurement if you disclude the ocean. Doing so, makes it taller than Mount Everest.
Mauna Kea is home to the infamous and highest of cinder cones known as Pu’u Wekiu or Pu’u o Kukahau’ula, which is the highest point in the state. This volcano is in the post-shield stage of volcanic evolution transitioning from the shield stage roughly 250,000 years ago. During its shield stage it is theoreticized to have appeared similar to Mauna Loa as a smooth shield volcano with a large summit caldera. The summit was entirely covered by a massive ice cap during the Pleistocene ice ages and displays evidence of four periods of glaciation over the last 200,000 years that ended around 11,000 years ago with the last glaciation. Its dense rock at its summit, called the “Mauna Kea Adz Quarry” is believed to have formed when lava erupted under a glacier. Towards its top is the seventh highest lake in the U.S. called “Lake Waiau”. Also at the summit is a celestial observatory that has been considered the best astronomical site in the world since it resides above 40% of the Earth’s atmosphere and 90% of the water vapor allowing for an exceptional clear view of the night sky. Local legends place Mauna Kea as the home of the snow Goddess “Poliahu” and many other deities making it an important mecca site for prayer, burials, consecration of children, and traditional celestial observations.
Akaka Falls * Akaka Falls Rd * Off Hwy 19, Honomu, HI 96728 * (808) 974-6200 * (near Hilo, Big Island, Hawaii) *
My first day on the Big Island, my friend Kawika took me to these amazing sheer pits of ‘awe’ known as ‘Akaka Falls. A 442 foot tall waterfall descending down into a deep gorge as part of the Kolekole Stream. Located within ‘Akaka Falls State Park just 11 miles north of Hilo at the end of Highway 220. Because the waterfall plunges down into a very rocky and scenic gorge, the local Hawaiians named it ‘Akaka which means “A rent, split, chink, separation; to crack, split, scale”. The folklore surrounding these falls involve P?haku a Pele that, when struck by a branch of lehua ??pane, will call the sky to darken and rain to fall (Pukui, Elbert, & Mookini, 1974). You can also see Kah?n? Falls along this trail. The trail is a self-guided .4 mile hike through dense tropical vegatation leading to these two natural wonders of Hawaii. Lots of Hawaii’s botanica dot and dress up the trail as tropical flowers, vines, and trees. Kahuna Falls is the lesser of the two, plummeting 400 feet. The Park itself has a nice parking lot, rest rooms, and often will find locals selling arts and crafts. On my visit on August 6, 2009; there was an amazing artist painting local scenery. Rating: 5 stars out of 5. Must visit location on the Big Island.
Thurston Lava Tube Volcano National Park, Volcano, Big Island, Hawaii While visiting a friend who lives in Volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii we took a late night cruise through the Thurston Lava Tube … which was absolutely fascinating. Not the first tube for me to go down as I’ve been in some in Washington and New Mexico, but have to say I’m always impressed by them. I could picture placing a underground home in one someday. So what are lava tubes? They are natural conduits formed when an active low-viscosity lava flow develops a continuous hard crust which thickens and forms a roof above the still-flowing lava stream. It is a geological tube through which lava travels or once has travelled through beneath the surface of a lava flow that is expelled out by a volcano during an eruption. They are either actively draining lava from a source or are extinct meaning lava has cooled off and left a long cave-like tunnel. This is an extinct tube. As lava leaves the point of eruption in continuous extremely hot channels with cool surroundings that develop walls around them as the surrounding laval cools and the channel melts its way deeper – they often get deep enough to crust over forming an insulating tube that keeps the lava molten and acts as a conduit for the flowing lava. Pahoehoe flows are where lava is flowing in an unchanneled fanlike manner as it leaves the volcanic source taking a lava tube to lead back to the eruption point. These are areas of surface-moving lava that has cooled forming a smooth or rough ropy surface. Once the flow hardens, it starts to block its source, and only the subsurface lava is still hot enough to break out at a point creating a new source or underground channel known as a pahoehoe tube. Each tube often exhibits step marks called ‘flow ledges’ or ‘flow lines’ on the interior walls that show the various depths that the lava flowed. Most tubes have pahoehoe floors commonly covered with breakdown from the ceiling. Lavacicles (stalactites) or lava tube speleothems form in either splash, shark tooth, or tubular varieties as well as tubular lava helictites (drip stalagmites) are often formed in the tubes. Beads of lava that extrude from small holes that ran down the wall are known as ‘runners’. Sometimes crystalization occurs in the tubes forming crusts of small crystals from mineral deposits in the flows. Lava tubes have been measured to be up to 14-15 meters wide and as deep as 1-15 meters below the surface – they can extend for miles in many instances. For example, the Mauna Loa tube runs over 30 miles from its eruption point. The Thurston Lava Tube is part of Hawaii’s Volcano National Park and is easy to access within the park for a nice excursion it’s definitely worth seeing. The Park was established in 1916 and remains an active Volcanic area. Active eruptive sites include the main caldera of K?lauea and a more active but remote vent called Pu?u ????. K?lauea and its Halema?uma?u caldera are traditionally considered the sacred home of the volcano goddess Pele, and Hawaiians visited the crater to offer gifts to this Goddess. This tube is named after the Thurston family, the first western visitors to the site. They were English missionaries, William Ellis and American Asa Thurston in 1823. Their grandson, Lorrin A. Thurston, was the driving force to establish this park in 1916. There is an undeveloped stretch of this Lava tube that extends an additional 330 meters beyond the developed one show in these pictures and it dead-ends into the hillside. While blocked by a chain link fence to keep unwary visitors from entering, the easily traversed stretch is open to the public and accessible through a gate in the fence. Rating: 5 stars out of 5.
Cimarron Canyon State Park Cimarron, New Mexico * http://www.emnrd.state.nm.us/prd/CimarronCanyon.htm * A beautiful canyon that is bisected by historic Highway 64 extending from Cimarron to Taos. The State Park is located three miles east of Eagle Nest, New Mexico. The park resides in the Colin Neblett Wildlife Area. The Canyon is a very popular location for trout fishing, especially in the Cimarron River and its tributaries – Clear Creek and Tolby Creek. It is also a very popular camping, cross country skiing, and hiking location. The park extends for eight miles. The Palisades Sill are amongst the most popular photo spots in the Canyon. Elk, Deer, Bear, Turkey, Grouse, songbirds, and mountain lions are common inhabitants. Definitely a nice road stop along Highway 64. Rating: 3 stars out of 5.
Rio Grande Gorge and Bridge Taos, New Mexico * http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=610 * One of New Mexico’s most famous and picturesque gorges and bridges. The Rio Grande Gorge is 800 feet deep and ten miles long, running from northwest to southeast of Taos, New Mexico, through the basalt flows of the Taos Plateau volcanic field. One of the world’s most popular white water rafting locations, steep pocketed rock climbing hot spots, and home to numerous petroglyphs. Along its bottom runs the historic Rio Grande river with hidden hot springs and ancient ruins. The bridge and gorge has been home to numerous movies and film shoots including Terminator Salvation, Natural Born Killers, Twins, She’s Having a Baby, and Wild Hogs. In fact, during our visit here, traffic got stopped while we watched an RV race up and down the bridge being filmed for some upcoming movie. The bridge that expands this gorge has won awards from the American Institute of Steel Construction as the “Most Beautiful Steel Bridge” in 1966.
It is a cantilever truss steel bridge crossing the Rio Grande Gorge. It sits 650 feet above the Rio Grande which makes it the fifth highest bridge in the United States. It spans roughly 1,280 feet across with highway 64 running over it. The bridge has been the site for many suicides, some of which are notoriously famous. It is also the hotspot for Bonnie and Clyde type road warriors for proposals as stemmed from the classic scene in Natural Born Killers. Definitely a nice road stop along Highway 64. Rating: 5 stars out of 5.
The wedding of Mickey and Mal: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=icDP1EsCs8c
Malad Springs and Gorge * Idaho, United States
One of my favorite little canyons off the Interstate while cruising through Idaho on my many adventures to Seattle from Colorado. The Malad River is the shortest river in the World. It is a tributary of the Snake River and is formed by the confluence of the Big Wood River and the Little Wood River near Gooding, Idaho. It flows south and west for about 11.5 miles where it joins the Snake river near Hagerman. The river creates a very deep gorge called the “Malad Gorge” where it flows through the Malad Gorge State Park, where it tumbles down an amazing waterfall. The Gorge is 250 feet deep and 2.5 miles long. Its a definite not-to-miss sight in Hagerman. Definitely a must see. Rating: 5 stars out of 5.
“The forces of erosion are sculpting more than just arches. Balanced Rock clearly shows the various layers responsible for this amazing defiance of gravity. The caprock of the hard slick rock Member of the entrada sandstone is perched upon a pedastal of mudstone. This softer Dewey Bridge member of the Carmel formation weathers more quickly than the resistant hard rock above. Eventually the faster eroding Dewey Bridge will cause the collapse of Balanced Rock. ” NPS Marker.
Red Rocks Canyon Open Space Manitou Springs, Colorado
A beautiful open space off of highway 24 across from Old Colorado City, and inbetween Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs, is a free hiking and picnicking space. People started using this canyon as early as the Archaic period (ca. 7,000 B.C.E.) from evidence found archaeologically. Because it was close to Fountain Creek – it was an ideal space for settlement. During the late 1800’s the area was raped for building supplies needed for pioneering Old Colorado City and its surrounding communities, such as Manitou Springs. Gypsum, sand, and sandstone was quarried from these hills … the Kenmuir Quarry was most popular in the area until the early part of the 20th century. In 1886, the Colorado-Philadelphia Company Mill used the land to refine the ore shipped by train from the gold mines in Cripple Creek and became one of the largest mills of its kind in the United States until the Golden Cycle Mill was built in the early 1900’s. In the 1920’s – John George Bock purchased the property with intent on building a resort there with a community center, high-rise tower, commercial center, and a golf course – by 2002 their family only succeeded in building a few residences, outbuildings, two doze mobile home sites, a 53 acre landfill, and 2 gravel quarries. In 2003, the City of Colorado Springs purchased the property from the Bock’s to be used as a public open space.