Vien R. Guenther
Hiking at Fisher Towers - Utah
Updated: Oct 11, 2020
Moab, Utah, is one of our favorite places to visit, but only in spring or fall when the weather is cool - an ideal time to explore the desert country. For those who haven’t been in Utah, you would probably think of desert and associate it with sand dunes, but no, out here it is a different world. You will find unique shapes of red rock formations (fins, pinnacles, spires) and landscapes all over the area. You can let your imagination go wild looking at those formations as you see them. One that stands out even from afar is the Fisher Towers. The giant spires look like a ruined castle, but wait till you hike there, it’s even more spectacular. The immensity of the towers makes you feel small – in my case, even smaller, literally.
Fisher Towers is one of the most scenic landscapes you can find when approaching Moab along the scenic Colorado River Road. The spectacular towers are remnants of flood plain deposits created some 225 million years ago. Fisher Towers contain layers of sedimentary rocks in various shades of red-brown, red-purple, and maroon. This is the result of varying amounts of hematite (iron oxide).
The towers' lower part is formed of the Permian Cutler formation, from the Early Permian geological period, and the upper, darker part consists of the Moenkopi formation, from the Lower Triassic period. Erosion still continues to shape the towers and rock formations. The sandstone, which is more resistant to erosion, protects the softer Cutler formations.
Fisher Towers, named for a miner who lived near the area in the 1880’s, is administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). This area is world-renowned for photographers, climbers and hikers. Look up and you will usually find climbers up on one of the towers. We don’t climb but we hike, good enough adrenaline rush for me and my husband.
For hikers, the trail is an easy (moderate to some) 2.5 mile hike one way, or about 5 miles round trip, from the trailhead along the base of the towers and spires. Make sure to bring plenty of water, it can get hot even in spring. One time we had to give our extra bottle of water to a couple who looked like they were about to collapse from thirst. Some people don’t read signs or are just simply stubborn. The sign is there for a reason. There is no water source at Fisher Towers. There is a campground near the trailhead, but no water is provided there as well. Always bring extra water.
Along the trail you will find other interesting rock formations. The trail is well maintained and the best part is looking at the scenic overlook of Professor Valley and the Colorado River, where many old western movies were filmed.
The towers each have names: Corkscrew Tower, Ancient Arts Tower, King Fisher Tower, Echo Tower, Cottontail Tower, and the highest of them all - the Titan. The Titan Tower is 900 ft high and was first climbed by three men from Colorado in 1962. The late Layton Kor, a well-known American climber, climbed the Titan.
The Colorado River is the most famous river in the southwestern United States. It begins as a small creek in the high mountains of the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, from where it finds its way across seven southwestern states and parts of Mexico, where it ultimately empties into the Gulf of California; but most years it doesn't even reach that far because it gets used up for irrigation and other water usage by the populated areas of the southwest.
Along the way, the river has formed some of the most spectacular canyon country found anywhere on earth, including what you see in the picture above, as well as Canyonlands National Park and of course the famous Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.