Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Part 2: More Wilderness Area Exploration and Turtle Rock

Tom and I went back to the Red Cliffs but he directed us to a different section of the reef, south of our last hike there. The hike began with similar views but after climbing over a few small cliffs and crossing a stretch of sandy plateau we arrived at an overlook into a canyon, with views of mountains beyond. Continuing south, we skirted the rim for awhile and and found multiple really neat examples of Liesegang rings – which are mineral deposits (here, mostly iron oxide) in the sandstone – before reaching a series of petrified sand dunes. Rising from the landscape like mounds, petrified dunes are characterized by either layers of sandstone that appear swirled or as hills that are cracked. Either way they are beautiful and fantastic, and the first ones I had seen since my hike in Coyote Buttes a year and a half ago.

After climbing around there for awhile and taking a snack break we continued on, dropping into a wash for a few miles seeing a rock that looked exactly, amazingly, like a turtle. Finally, after the wash joined with a larger canyon we hiked halfway up the side to look at a tunnel for an old water line and then made our way back.

A different angle of the Red Cliffs, Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah

A different angle of the Red Cliffs, Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah

Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah

Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah

Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah

Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah

Walking in the reef, Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah

Walking in the reef, Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah

Abby surveying, Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah

Abby surveying, Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah

Liesegang rings in the sandstone, Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah

Liesegang rings in the sandstone, Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah

Liesegang rings in foreground with petrified dunes, red sandstone reef, and Pine Mountains in background, Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah

Liesegang rings in foreground with petrified dunes, red sandstone reef, and Pine Mountains in background, Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah

Pronounced Liesegang rings of iron oxide with heavily eroded sandstone, Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah

Pronounced Liesegang rings of iron oxide with heavily eroded sandstone, Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah

Petrified sand dunes (now sandstone), Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah

Petrified sand dunes (now sandstone), Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah

Petrified sand dunes, Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah

Petrified sand dunes, Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah

Petrified sand dunes, Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah

Petrified sand dunes, Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah

Petrified sand dunes, Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah

Petrified sand dunes, Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah

Liesegang rings on a deposited boulder atop petrified sand dunes, Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah

Liesegang rings on a deposited boulder atop petrified sand dunes, Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah

Abby and I at the top of a swirled rock, Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah

Abby and I at the top of a swirled rock, Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah

Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah

Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah

Break time, Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah

Break time, Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah

Turtle rock in the wash, Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah

Turtle rock in the wash, Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah

The wash goes wide and deep, Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah

The wash goes wide and deep, Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah

Tom climbing through piles of rocks in the wash, Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah

Tom climbing through piles of rocks in the wash, Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah

Old water line tunnel, Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah

Old water line tunnel, Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah

Another shot of the tunnel, Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah

Another shot of the tunnel, Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah