Islomania Dome

Categories: Hiking

Hidden away in a remote corner of southern Uah, Islomania Dome is one of the most unique places in the world. It goes by several other names as well, including Esca-Volcano and the Cosmic Navel. But what is it?

Islomania Dome is a very unlikely work of art produced by wind and water. Started off by a long gone stream that ate itself into a hole, wind took over from there and created massive 200 foot wide  bowl of orange sand with a 30 foot high mini butte of rock standing over one side. The lip is sometimes 80 feet above the lowest park but the sand is constantly being blown around in bowl.

There is no official way to get there but the most popular routes, which are the shortest, are about 7-9 miles round trip and cross miles of open sandy desert with no shade. The hike should not be done in the heat of the summer.

The first few miles on the eastern route are fairly monotonous truding over sand dunes and through gulleys while looking at the same view for several hours. I get tired of that so i tried to stick to the rocks, which kept pulling me higher.

Some of the thousands of iron nodules scattered across the region.

I finally rounded a bend to a new vista.

Looking back at those same trees later in the day. The snow capped Henry Mountains are in the distance.

Of course i had seen pictures of the dome before I went but i was still impressed at my first glimpse as I walked towards the edge of the pit.

A fantastic contrast of white and orange. Looks like a dish of orange sorbet.

 A 180 panorama. It’s bigger than it looks. I think everybody says that. The tower is around 30 feet high. You can lay the Statue of Liberty down across the sand, and then you can let it get buried, and then you can re-enact Planet of the Apes.

Looking down from the top. One of the weird things about it is it’s on the side of a larger peak. In the far distance right of center in snowy Navajo Mountain on the other side of Lake Powell. You may see it in some other pictures farther down.

There’s a way to climb down into the bottom of the bowl but the sand blows around in the bottom and when i was there it looked like it had blown away enough from the last hand carved step that i might not be able to get out. Not being able to get out would be really bad in such a remote place. I’d heard conflicting reports about whether or not you needed a rope to get down but it’s obvious when you get there that a rope is a very good idea. So, unable to guarantee my safety in the bottom i decided to explore the rim.

Some great wind swept textures.

This cool hoodoo was leaking iron and manganese.

A close up of the swirling gold and rust colors.

First shade of the day!

So i assume this was the old streambed that carved the bowl.

If you look very very closely you might be able to discern the footholds carved into the rock on the left side.

One more view, from the opposite side, where you would descend to the sand.

Islomania definitely lived up to the hype but it was time to find all the things i had never seen a picture of before.

I had decided to take a different route back, over the west side of all the peaks i had passed on the way in. This meant climbing into and out of at least 4 other small canyons.

The first canyon i encountered this amazing sand dune that terminated cleanly onto barren rock.

Amazing polygon patterns that had been recently revealed.

There was a lot of water in the area in pockets and long pools. I am guessing there had been a big storm and water coming down the canyon had washed away the end of the dune.

I just thought it was really cool. I’ve never seen a sand dune sitting by itself on a wide open clean rock surface like this.

Moving up the canyon looking for a less steep way to climb out.

Up canyon looking back at the dune in the distance.

Traversing some amazing highlands full of tons of stuff i didn’t have time to see.

Some interesting repeating slabs.

This canyon looked interesting lower down.

Believe it or not this is a different canyon than the one above, but the very next one to the north.

Back to the sandy lowlands.

A nice sunset with alpenglow on the Henry Mountains.

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