So now all of you who claim that winter is too cold to go adventuring into Canyonlands, let me show you how much fun we had in one day. This is basically part one and only about the Roadside Ruin. Immediately past the Visitor Center within Canyonlands National Park - The Needles District, on the left hand side of the paved road, is a pull-in area for the Roadside Ruin. This is a 3/10s of a mile loop walk featuring plant life, outstanding views and a Native American granary.
At the trailhead there is an informational board and a box containing a trifold pamphlet; also a sign indicating no pets on this natural trail (no, it's not paved or concreted!) Take in the views of one of the desert towers called "The Six Shooters" and see as far as Island in the Sky and Junction Butte which is along the White Rim Trail.
|Island in the Sky
|Junction Butte - along the White Rim Trail
|Six Shooter (right side)
Along the trail will be wooden posts with a number, the number corresponds to the description in the pamphlet. Wondered what the Native Americans ate or processed for every day use; now you'll find out.
#1 - Indian Ricegrass - gathered, dried and ground into meal.
#2 - Peppergrass - the seeds were dried and ground; they have a hot peppery taste and were used as a spice.
#3 - Big Sagebrush - the bark was pounded and twisted to make cordage (rope); depending on the variety of sage, it was also used for seasoning, tea and medicinal purposes.
#4 - Fremont Barberry - yellow dye from the roots, the wood is hard enough for making tools and the pretty yellow flowers will ripen into edible berries.
#5 - Four Wing Saltbush - the seeds are edible; the ashes of the wood were used as a baking powder.
Now here comes #6, The Granary, which is hidden inside a small alcove which offered excellent protection from the elements and hungry wild life. Granaries were storage bins for grains, corn, seeds and nuts; occasionally food items have been found in granaries, but most are empty.
There is a wooden fence which should not be climbed over to get to the granary; the stonework is fragile and do you really want to be known as the one who destroyed it? Nope; and, of course, we don't want to see your name or initials scratched into the rock. Bubble busting time...no one cares about your name!!! Want your name immortalized? Write a blog!
View from the Granary.
#7 - Narrow Leaved Yucca - sharp spines of the yucca were used as needles; the fiber was made into cordage (rope), woven into sandals and mats; flowers and fruit are edible while the roots were used as a soap.
#8 - Utah Juniper - the bark is fibrous which provided diapers and cradleboard padding; the berries were brewed for a medicinal tea, or dried, strung into beads.
*9 - Pinyon Pine - the seeds can be eaten raw or roasted, using in baking and cooking; they are quite similar to Italian pignoli (pine nuts).
The trail is often marked with a cairn (small tower built of stones) to keep you from losing your way. Surprisingly, you can lose your way on trails within the park if you do not follow the cairns, or lose sight of the trail itself. We did a bit of wandering over the slickrock, found potholes full of water with signs of living creatures that have come up from the dried soil within. The views, however, are spectacular!
#10 - Prickly Pear Cactus - the cactus 'leaf" can be split open to use as a pad on a wound or cut; the fruit is sweet, juicy, can be eaten as is, or makes an incredible jelly!
...and then we were walking back to the pull-in and our vehicle. We had a bit of a snack; oh, don't forget your water! This was a short walk, but with all of Utah, you will dehydrate and not even know is occurring; always have water with you!
Now I need to work on the photos for part two of our winter day at Canyonlands - The Needles District.