"Cairns and cryptobiotic crust" Top 5 Page for this destination Canyonlands National Park Warnings Or Dangers Tip by goodfish
Canyonlands National Park Warnings and Dangers: 12 reviews and 15 photos
Cairns, those little pyramids of stones along the trail, are there for two reasons:
A. To keep you from getting lost and/or away from dangerous or unstable places
B. To keep you off cryptobiotic crust
"Cryptobiotic" means "hidden life" and these lumpy, living colonies of microorganisms, algae, lichen and whatnot help keep the desert surface from washing or blowing away, and give plant life a fertile, friendly place to germinate and grow. It's very fragile and some types take many, many years to form. Step on it and you've just wiped out 10 - 100 years of growth. It usually looks like a bumpy black fungus covering large or small areas of ground but some kinds are difficult to recognize, unless you know what you're looking for, or are just starting to form.
So please, please help keep the desert healthy and beautiful and don't hike, bike or 4-wheel off clearly indicated trails, paths or roads.
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