National Geographic : 1971 Jul
Measuring a mighty pillar (right) in Monu ment Basin, whose stone spires have never been surveyed, hikers let out a line attached to a helium-filled balloon. A dead calm favored their project. The column's height: 305 feet. Grotto with a skylight (far right) shelters the snaggled ruins of cliff dwellings. The Anasazi, or Ancient Ones, tilled corn in the valley below and retreated to the heights at night. Whether fleeing enemies or a prolonged and widespread drought, they disappeared from Utah by about 1300. This canyon, near Salt Creek, also shows evidence of disastrous flash floods at that time. Visitors today know the huge alcove as Paul Bunyan's Potty. The price of solitude: digging out of a grav elly ford on Salt Creek (below), with pockets of quicksand as added hazards. Travelers who risk such obstacles find reward in a winding, watered canyon dappled with the generous shade of cottonwoods and studded with the abandoned cliff homes of the Anasazi.