Friday, August 5, 2016

LepSoc 2016 - Day 3

I left Orem before sunrise and drove south to Moab, where I took, quite possibly, the fastest tour through Arches National Park. It was the 4th of July, so even though I arrived early, the traffic was already getting backed up and there was little to no parking at all of the trail heads, and limited parking at most of the viewpoints. Also, I wanted to go butterflying in the La Sal Mountains just south of Moab and there was a threat of thunderstorms later in the day so I was anxious to go there. The La Sal Mountains are visible from much of Arches National Park, and as I watched a tiny puff of white grow larger and larger, my trip through the park went faster and faster! I absolutely loved the area around Moab and inside the park, the rock formations were amazing, although I was a little surprised that I was actually more fascinated by the columns, balanced rocks, and other formations instead of the arches themselves.

Driving through the mountains southeast of Orem, Utah, on the way to Moab
Driving through the mountains southeast of Orem, Utah, on the way to Moab
I was amazed to see such a barren moonscape about an hour north of Moab, it was very sparsely vegetated!
Information about the two large rock formations and surrounding area (following pictures), along the road to Canyonlands National Park (I didn't go all the way there, I turned around at this viewpoint to go to Arches). Click to view full size.
Wind- and sand-swept rock at the viewpoint
Juniper at the viewpoint
Interesting rock next to the viewpoint parking lot
Monitor and Merrimac rocks (see sign above)
Monitor and Merrimac rocks (see sign above)
Entrance to Arches National Park
Sign in front of the visitor center
Massive rocks near the entrance of Arches National Park
View of La Sal Mountains
"The Tower of Babel"
"The Three Gossips" (left) and "Sheep Rock" (right)
"The Three Gossips"
I think this is looking back at "The Three Gossips", or else this is another rock formation I forget the name of.
"The Organ" or "The Pipe Organ", can't remember which, but it was HUGE!
Part of "Garden of Eden"
Part of "Garden of Eden"
Part of "Garden of Eden" (I thought it looked more like a bunch of giant termite mounds :)
I think this was the Turret Arch, or else it was the South Window, all in the same area
North Window Arch
View looking across the park
Other interesting rock formations
Delicate Arch (the most famous one!), it was over a mile hike if you wanted to go to the base of the arch, I didn't have time and the parking lot was crowded, if you look closely you can see a lot of people around the base of the arch.
La Sal Mountains Loop, Moab, UT
Thorybes pylades Northern Cloudywing, 1 male
Erynnis persius Persius Duskywing, 3 males
Pyrgus communis Common Checkered Skipper, 4+
Poanes taxiles Taxiles Skipper, 4+ males, 4+ females
Papilio zelicaon Anise Swallowtail, 2 males
Papilio rutulus Western Tiger Swallowtail, 35+
Papilio multicaudata Two-tailed Tiger Swallowtail, 4+ males, 1 female
Pieris marginalis Margined White, 1 male
Pontia protodice Checkered White, 1 female
Colias eurytheme Orange Sulphur, 16+
Colias philodice Clouded Sulphur, 3 males
Lycaena helloides Purplish Copper, 1 male
Callophrys gryneus Juniper Hairstreak, 1
Satyrium behrii Behr's Hairstreak, 1
Satyrium calanus Banded Hairstreak, 1 male, 1 female
Strymon melinus Gray Hairstreak, 1
Plebejus melissa Melissa Blue, 15+
Icaricia icarioides Boisduval's Blue, 1 male
Phyciodes cocyta Northern Crescent, 1 male
Euptoieta claudia Variegated Fritillary, 1
Speyeria cybele Great Spangled Fritillary, 10+ males
Nymphalis antiopa Mourning Cloak, 1
Limenitis weidemeyerii Weidemeyer's Admiral, 1 female
Cercyonis oetus Dark Woodnymph, 2 males

Yet another National Forest to check off my list! Entering the La Sal Mountains south of Moab
There were a gazillion swallowtails everywhere, I don't think I've ever seen so many! I lost count after a couple dozen.
Nervously watching the building clouds, but was happy that they stayed on that side of the mountains and left me with one of the two best butterfly days of my entire trip!
Panorama of Castle Valley from somewhere on the north end of the mountain loop I was driving
I went up a side road towards the end of the day just to do a bit more exploring, and stumbled upon some dinosaur tracks! It wasn't advertised on any maps because they want to keep people from vandalizing them.
View of Bull Canyon and Castle Valley, southeast of Moab
Bull Canyon
Dinosaur tracks! There are at least two in this photo
Dinosaur tracks, you can barely make out 5 or 6 footprints straight towards the bushes
Dinosaur footprint - these were so big that my feet would have fit from the heel to one of the toes with room left over
The beginning of my drive through Castle Valley
Looking back at the La Sal Mountains
Look familiar? That's because Castle Valley has been a filming location for several movies, including at least two John Wayne movies and an episode of MacGyver. I didn't know that until I drove through here and thought it looked familiar and had to look it up. It's a little reminiscent of Monument Valley on the Utah/Arizona border (where I want to go some day), which is where many other westerns were filmed.
Another part of Castle Valley. There was much more awesomeness as I continued out along the river, but I wasn't able to stop for photos, the road became windy and there weren't any good pullouts.

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