National Geographic : 1952 Jun
742 Roadside Warnings Stop Ben Cornwall near Hite, Utah These signs are posted on the route from Natural Bridges to Hite. Sand, engulfing wheels, may stall motorists. Flash floods, built by cloudbursts in mountains, can destroy cars. Here the road descends into White Canyon. Bags hanging from the station wagon carry reserve water for the hot, dusty trip. I thought we had done enough for one trip. But any new place intrigues me, and Charlie, with his steadily puffing corncob pipe, can be persuasive. Soon we were all bundled back into the station wagon and driving northwest for Fremont, Utah. Here we paused to pick up a guide, Perry Jackson, and his jeep. Turning off the main road, we began to work our way along the base of the Thousand Lake Mountain. For 27 miles we inched the car over boulders, down stream beds, across dunes, and through treacherous stretches of soft sand. Cathedrals in Color Soon on the horizon appeared a panorama of great, bulky monoliths, hundreds of feet high and startlingly colored (pages 708-9 and 734). Isolated from the surrounding cliffs and mountains, each butte stood alone on its dissected gray base, dominating its own "cathedral close." Setting up camp in an abandoned range rider's shack, we started, despite threatening weather, a photographic attack on this strange landscape. It was not simple. The terrain was anything but accommodating. But the more we saw of Cathedral Valley, the more we agreed with Charlie Kelly that this was the way to end our long journey through the Four Corners Country. Those who come after us will have it easier. New roads are being built, and more will fol low. But with such advances will come new dangers, too-the risk of tourists' careless "pot hunting" and vandalism, the risk of commer cial exploitation of Nature's perishable offer ings. Scenic Treasures Need Protection Some geologists and naturalists feel that a sensible precaution would be to make National Monuments of areas like the Valley of the Goblins, the Needles, Monument Canyon, and Cathedral Valley. This would first require acquisition by the Government of those scenic treasures not al ready in the public domain. Then a presi dential proclamation could put them under the protection of the National Park Service, which now watches over some 23,700,000 acres in the public interest. Such control would make it possible not only to surround these scenic spots with cer tain legal safeguards against wanton damage, but also to provide them with ranger service, with access trails, and with every feasible means of lessening further accidentally initi ated erosion-such as reckless climbing among the Goblins can set in motion. That day, we trust, will come. The Four Corners Country represents a geologic heri tage which, once squandered, can never be replaced.