Salt Creek Canyon is one of those special places in Canyonlands National Park where water is generally available throughout the year. The canyon is a green oasis in the midst of a redrock desert, and the combination of the two ecosystems makes this hike unique. The trail alternately winds across the sage-covered benches above the creek, then drops down to carve a path through the willows and cottonwoods that grow nearer the water. The backdrop for the canyon greenery is a mural of red, white and black Cedar Mesa Sandstone, etched and sculpted into pinnacles, alcoves, natural arches, and a million other unusual shapes.
Perhaps the most interesting features on the canyon walls are the ancient cliff dwellings and rock art that were left behind by the Anasazi and Fremont Indians centuries ago. The cliffs are littered with their ancient pictographs, and dozens of prehistoric granaries and other structures lie hidden away in the dark recesses of the sandstone. Theirs was a farming culture, and they must have found the sandy, flat-bottomed canyon an ideal place to grow their crops. Salt Creek Canyon was also a grazing area for cattle during the first half of the twentieth century, and relics of the old ranching activity can still be seen occasionally along the trail.
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