Upheaval Dome and Syncline Loop
Key information: Upheaval Dome and Syncline Loop
- Inspect or walk around the remarkable Upheaval Dome, a probable a meteor impact crater.
- An amazing place.
- Walkopedia rating87
- Natural interest18
- Human interest2
- Negative points0
- Total rating87
- Length: Your choice
- Maximum Altitude: N/A
- Level of Difficulty: Variable
The Upheaval Dome is a very peculiar feature in the north-west of the Island in the Sky. A ring of huge, bright and often sheer sandstone cliffs surrounds a great hole some 5km across (depending how you measure), with what looks like a white miniature mountain range, actually underlying shale, at its centre, with spires of what look like vitrified rock or volcanic plug protruding. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upheaval_Dome for excellent information and aerial photos, which show concentric rings, which aren’t apparent as you approach by road, as you drive in through a wide gap in the outer ring.
There are two theories, either that it is the heavily eroded remains of a meteor impact crater, and this is borne out by aerial photos and recent research, or an upheaval pushed by the great salt layers that underlie the area, which gave the area its name.
A must is the short walk from the roadhead to the two Upheaval Dome Overlooks perched on the inner ring, which give a fascinating view of the heart of the crater. The dramatic bare, smooth sandstone ridge of the Whale is also very worthwhile.
The famous walk here is the Syncline Loop, a demanding 13km/8mile circuit which runs between the rocky rings, much of the time in spectacular dry red sandstone canyons; as a result, you will not get much sense of the overall Dome, so will need to divert to the Outlooks en route. You can also walk in to the weird white centre of the Dome; and out west through the great gap in the cliffs and down the Upheaval Canyon trail to the Green River. This is tough walking, and can take 6-8hrs, so plan carefully. Bring lots of water. Some scrambling using a cable required; those with a poor head for heights, beware.
This can be tough walking in hot, dry conditions. Come fully prepared, including carrying plenty of water.
The book is Canyonlands and Arches National Parks by Bill Schneider for Falcon Hiking Guides. Find this and other relevant books on Amazon.
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Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.
Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.
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