Upheaval Dome, Canyonlands National Park, Utah | 52 Hike Challenge – Hike 29

When deciding which hikes to do with our limited time at Canyonlands National Park, we couldn’t pass up a quick walk out to the rim of the Upheaval Dome. Scientists and geologists debate what actually caused this geologic anomaly in the relatively stable area and it became my Hike 29.

The Upheaval Dome

The showstopper feature that is this hike’s namesake is a 3-mile diameter dome that you can overlook from various viewpoints. This geologic feature has an interesting greenish-white tint which contrasts against the orange-red soil all around.

The Theories

There are two main theories for what caused this strange dome in the high desert. One theory is also the source of the feature’s name. This theory states that salt layers left behind by evaporating seas become fluid under immense pressure from rocks above. This liquid salt “bubbles” to the surface in an “upheaval”. The second theory that seems to have a bit more (yet still inconclusive) support is that this is actually the top of an impact crater, made visible by erosion.

The Hike

It was a very hot day and we had quite a few hikes planned (along with a side trip to Zion that same day), so we chose to do the short Upheaval Dome Trail (although we did go almost to the second, further viewpoint when we missed a sign!). The hike is well-groomed trail and marked. There is little to no shade so sunscreen is a must, as is water. This hike only has about 100 feet of elevation change, but I found that it felt like much more given the heat, sand, sun, etc. However, if you prepare appropriately this hike is a can’t miss simply because of the awe-inspiring and, frankly, weird scenery.

Have you hiked to the Upheaval Dome? What do you think caused this geologic feature? Tell me in the comments!

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