Hike and gape at Utah’s looming Fisher Towers

A climber gets there photo taken on top of the Corkscrew Summit on the Ancient Art Tower at Fisher Towers along Utah Route 128, (the old River Road as locals call it).Development of the Towers as a climbing area started in the 1960’s.The Towers are about 16 miles northeast of Moab, Utah.



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A climber gets there photo taken on top of the Corkscrew Summit on the Ancient Art Tower at Fisher Towers along Utah Route 128, (the old River Road as locals call it).Development of the Towers as a climbing area started in the 1960’s.The Towers are about 16 miles northeast of Moab, Utah.

Hiking in Fisher Towers in Utah.



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Hiking in Fisher Towers in Utah.

Professor Valley, Utah.



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Professor Valley, Utah.

QUICKREAD

TAKE MORE TIME IN MOAB

If you’re intrigued by Fisher Towers and want to explore more of the area, visit Canyonlands and Arches national parks and Dead Horse Point State Park. Then, mosey into Moab for one of the town’s many and varied summer activities, including:

■ The 20th annual Moab Arts Festival is May 26–27 at Swanny City Park. Hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. May 26 and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 27, and admission is free. For information, go to moabartsfestival.org or call 435-259-2742.

■ The annual Canyonlands Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA) Rodeo and Carnival is May 31 through June 2. For information, call 435-259-4852.

■ The Desert Rocks Music Festival is June 7–10. The multi-genre music and arts festival focuses on spreading eco-friendly and socially conscious ideology and hosts more than 75 bands, DJs and performers. For information, go to desertrocks.org or call 801-414-5595.

■ Fee Free Day in the national parks is June 9, and includes Arches and Canyonlands national parks. For information, go to nps.gov.

■ The Moab Music Festival, Aug. 30 to Sept. 10, features 13 music performances — classical, jazz and traditional — presented over two weeks. They include Grotto Concerts, Music Walks and outdoor concerts at resort properties, in Star Hall and at private homes. There also will be four school assemblies for Grand County School District students, two free ticketed Open Rehearsal Conversations and one free Family Picnic Concert on Labor Day. For information, go to moabmusicfest.org or call 435-259-7003.

■ The Moab Century Tour, Sept. 21–23, is a bike ride encompassing 40-, 65- or 100-mile options. This weekend of road cycling includes a warm-up ride Friday and recovery ride and yoga Sunday. For information, go to skinnytireevents.com or call 435-260-8889.

■ The 24 Hours of Moab, Oct. 5–7, is a mountain bike team relay race held for 17 years in an area known as Behind-the-Rocks. For information, go to grannygear.com or call 304-259-5533.



Oh, there’s a logical, scientific explanation, all right: varying amounts of hematite. That’s why the rocks are the colors they are.

But really, there’s no word for the color. It’s not red, exactly, nor is it purple. Maroon is not quite it, either. Without the right descriptor, then, the only thing to do is look.

Or gawk, in fact. Visitors to eastern Utah’s Fisher Towers Recreation Site, located 20 miles northeast of Moab on Utah Highway 128, spend the majority of the 2.2-mile hike looking up, mouths agape.

They can’t be real, those striated, dimpled, impossible towers. They loom and soar, jabbing at the enormous desert sky in a phantasmagoria of shapes.

The imagination runs amok: Look there, on top of that tower. Is that a dog shaking hands with a banker? Maybe they just signed a contract? Maybe they just bought the genie lamp perched above them? But then you move two steps and the shapes change. It’s like cloud-gazing.

The trail winds and undulates, a moderate hike that offers time to ponder, well, time. The tops of the towers are lower sandstone members of the Triassic Moenkopi Formation, a mere 245 million years old. Beneath that, sandstone, mudstone and conglomerate of the Permian Cutler Formation, about 290 million years old.

That explains the wrinkles, then, rock resembling paper that’s been unfolded and crumpled again and again and again. The mind boggles, the senses take over.

There’s always something blooming. In spring, it’s bushes of wild yellow flowers that smell sweet and rosy and earthy. The scent fills the valley. There are blossoms red and white, and you scramble for a botanical primer.

Lizards dart and the wind blows — an ancient wind, impervious and busy, charging the towers and ramparts. It adds interest to the hike, a “yikes!” feeling when the drop-off is more than a foot or two.

But you keep going, drawn upward to a castle of redrock, a vision in colors impossible to describe.

How to get there: From Grand Junction, travel 55 miles west along Interstate 70 and exit at Cisco, Utah (exit 204). Travel about 2 miles on U.S. Highway 6/Utah Highway 128 and turn south on Utah Scenic Byway 128. Go about 12 miles to mile marker 21 and turn east toward Fisher Towers Recreation Site. Go 2.2 miles on the graded dirt road to the trailhead.

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