A friend was asking about some interesting places to visit on the Colorado Plateau. I gave her some names of trails, canyons, drainages and ridge lines that I thought were fun. When it came time for directions I didn't use the typical cardinal directions, but instead used the location of the three main laccolithic mountain ranges of the Colorado Plateau. Needles to say...she gave me a hard time. Again, needless to say I gave her a little geology lesson concerning these mountain ranges.
In the late Paleogene-early Neogene, igneous rocks intruded into the area, "doming up" the overlying sedimentary rock creating laccoliths across the Colorado plateau. Over time, much of the overlying strata eroded away leaving the root of igneous rock surrounded by steeply dipping sedimentary rock. We just don't see much of a dip in sedimentary rocks in much of the plateau.
These small mountain ranges have captured some of the scarce water vapor that has crossed the arid Colorado Plateau creating many of the systems of canyons we see today.
These mountain ranges are also great landmarks as they can be seen from many parts of the eastern portion of the Plateau. It is comforting when you emerge from a canyon, look to the west and see the Henry Mountains. That and a GPS can get me to the car.
The Abajo Mountains west of Monticello.The Henry Mountains. One of the last areas explored in the US.
Riding towards the La Sal Mountains. Right outside of Moab. These mountains are a beacon all across this portion of the plateau.
Looking south towards the Abajo mountains.