Welcome to My Canyonlands National Park Photo-Poetry Journal

If you look closely at the image, you'll spot my friend on our first day out, relaxing beneath one of my favourite monuments in the Needles District of Canyonlands. We're on the trail to Peekaboo Springs, a 10-mile round trip from our campsite in the park's Squaw Flats Campground.

Every spring, while my home in Alberta, Canada has lost its snow, but hasn't recovered from winter’s ravages, well before our own stands of poplars and elm have leafed out, I pack my car and drive 1200 miles south to visit Southern Utah's spectular canyon country. In april, the cottonwoods are just getting their first blush of string's light green leaves.

The national parks I visit are famous with thousands of visitors: Canyonlands, Arches, Bryce, Capitol Reef and Zion to name a few. Less famous but as interesting because of their low visitation rates and more wild hiking prospects, are canyons in the Cedar Mesa Region: Natural Bridges National Monument, Grand Gulch, Owl & Fish, Road, McCloyd, Lime, Johns, Slcikhorn, to name a few. Most people drive through, look around, maybe stay overnight, and then drive on to the next park. But many also stay a few days an hike through the spectacles of "the Needles" – sandstone monuments that have been being shaped though the millenia since the last ice age.

All of these parks form part of the upper watershed of the Colorado River which flows through only a few miles from where my friend is sitting. Downriver, the Colorado meanders through the Escalante Region and the even more famous Grand Canyon.

The dark clouds in the background portend rain, although rain is rare in this country. Water that falls on my friend will either evaporate or if there's a storm, it will race off the sandstone into a tiny wash and eventually flow into the Colorado.

From early April to mid-May and from mid-September to late October, the weather in these parks, depending on each park's elevation, averages about 20 C (68 F), perfect for hiking. The flower season arrives in early april and the exotics, cactus and yuccas, bloom in late April through mid-May.

The images on this website were taken in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. The park has 3 other districts: Island in the Sky, The Maze and Horseshoe Canyon. If you don't know where these parks are located you can use the location links to see where you are and where my friend is sitting.

The poetry is called haibun, a mix of prose and haiku. It's derived from the writing of the 18th century poet-monk Matsuo Basho who is famous in Japan and other parts of the world.

~ Ray Rasmussen


En Route to Peekaboo Springs