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November/December 2005

Utah Hikes: The Case For Glen Canyon

Drought is giving Glen Canyon--and those who love it--a second chance. Here are four spectacular reasons why we should protect this Southwest wilderness by making it America's next national park.

Moqui Canyon

A lush ramble past thousand-year-old Anasazi ruins

“There is a way up!” shouts Flagstaff archaeologist Neil Weintraub. From the bottom of Moqui Canyon, we’d spied a set of Anasazi granaries on a narrow ledge 350 feet above. I’d assumed we couldn’t reach them, but Neil knew better. After a tricky scramble, we find one granary in perfect condition, with wood slats still in the roof and the fingerprints of its builder pressed into the mud mortar.

Neil guesses the structure is a thousand years old. “I can see why they lived here,” he says, looking down at the now-thriving canyon bottom. There are fertile silt banks for growing crops, willow for making baskets, a perennial stream, and shady alcoves for housing and food storage.

With its vortex of major river drainages, Glen Canyon was the heartland of an ancient Puebloan society for tens of thousands of years. A pre-dam survey conducted in the 1950s found more than 2,000 archaeological sites. Moqui itself was a hub, with 150 ruins and rock art sites in just 12 miles of canyon.

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