Upheaval Dome   |  PDTillman, Wikimedia Commons

Canyonlands Upheaval Dome Overlook

A short, steep hike to get the best view of perhaps the most interesting geological feature in Utah.

Start: Upheaval Dome Parking Area

Distance: 1.6 miles; out-and-back

Difficulty: Moderate

Maps: USGS Upheaval Dome; Trails Illustrated Island in the Sky

Finding the trailhead: Drive 6.5 miles south of the Island in the Sky Visitor Center and turn right (west) onto Upheaval Dome Road. Go another 4.8 miles to the Upheaval Dome Picnic Area at the end of the road. The trailhead is at the west end of the picnic area.

Trailhead GPS: 38.426315, -109.926110

This is a great way to observe and study the geological wonders of the Upheaval Dome area without taking the arduous 8.3-mile Syncline Loop Trail. In fact, you get a better view of the mysterious crater from this short trail.

The entire Syncline area has a fascinating—and controversial—geological history. Some geologists call Upheaval Dome “the most peculiar structural feature in southeastern Utah.” The origin of the dome is the source of endless debate. For some mysterious reason, rocks formerly buried a mile underground are now on the surface in the crater. The two most common theories—the “salt dome” theory and the “meteorite impact” theory—are explained in a brochure available at the visitor center. 

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