Cosmic Ashtray: A Geological Marvel in Utah’s Wilderness

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  • Post last modified:March 5, 2024
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Hidden within the rugged wilderness of Escalante, Utah, lies a geological wonder that defies imagination: the Cosmic Ashtray. Also known as the Volcano, Islomania Dome, or the Cosmic Navel, this unique formation beckons adventurers to explore its otherworldly landscape. Let’s embark on a journey to uncover the secrets of this enigmatic pit.

1. The Cosmic Ashtray’s Origins

The Cosmic Ashtray is a massive dome surrounded by what appears to be orange water (which might indeed be water after rain), but is actually bright orange sand. Its name evokes curiosity and intrigue, and rightly so. How did this colossal pit come into existence? Millennia of weathering and erosion sculpted this sandstone marvel, leaving behind a breathtaking spectacle that defies conventional geology.

2. The Trail to the Unknown

Difficulty: Moderate

Length: 8.3 miles (Out & Back)

Elevation Gain: 882 feet

The journey begins along a sandy wash, gradually transitioning to Navajo sandstone hills. While the trail is generally considered challenging, it rewards intrepid hikers with solitude and awe-inspiring views. Here are some essential tips for your adventure:

  • Prepare Well: The Cosmic Ashtray trail is not well-established. Use AllTrails to stay on track.
  • 4WD Required: Access to the trailhead typically requires a 4×4 vehicle due to sandy, rocky, and rutted roads.
  • Bring Supplies: Pack plenty of water, especially during scorching summer months.
  • GPS Essential: The trail lacks markers, so a GPS device is crucial to avoid getting lost.
  • Safety First: Do not venture into the ashtray alone or without a rope. It’s a risky endeavor.

3. The Spectacular Payoff

As you approach the Cosmic Ashtray, the landscape transforms. The pit itself remains hidden until you’re almost upon it. Imagine standing on the edge, gazing into the abyss—a vast, orange bowl that seems to defy gravity. The silence here is profound, broken only by the wind whispering through the sandstone walls.

4. Timing and Conditions

The best times to explore the Cosmic Ashtray are from March through November. Spring and fall offer pleasant temperatures, making the hike more enjoyable. However, even in the cold of February, this geological oddity remains captivating.

Remember, the Cosmic Ashtray isn’t just a pit; it’s a portal to another realm—a place where Earth’s secrets unfold. So, pack your curiosity, respect the land, and venture forth to witness this cosmic marvel.

Discover more hidden gems and natural wonders with Utah’s rugged beauty. 1

John Fowler from Placitas, NM, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons


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