Utah’s Caineville Desert
What do the moon, mars, dinosaurs, and dirt bikes have in common? They all share an area called the Caineville Desert between Capitol Reef National Park and Hanksville Utah.Southcentral Utah is home to unique and unusual landscapes. The terrain in this region is different from the rest of southern Utah that is known for its red rock rock canyons and cliffs. Mancos Shale mesas in hues of yellow and grey look as though they were carved with a knife dominate the western half of the region near Capitol Reef National Park, while rolling multi-colored hills of Bentonite Clay formed during the Jurassic Period some 150 million years ago are found north of the Henry Mountains and south of Goblin Valley State Park. Buttes, bluffs, and pinnacles create a convoluted landscape that has been compared to an extraterrestrial planet. Hollywood agrees and has used this area as the backdrop for Sci-fi movies including Galaxy Quest, John Carter, and others.
Welcome to Mars!
Capitol Reef Country is known for its terrain that looks extraterrestrial and the area between Capitol Reef National Park and Hanksville won’t disappoint. The Bentonite Hills west of Hanksville known as Utah’s Mars 0ffer earthlings a glimpse of what the red planet might look like. If you visit at the right time, you might see men and women in space suits with the Mars Desert Research Center. The Mars Society must have found the region ideal for simulating the red planet considering The Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), owned and operated by the Mars Society, is the largest and longest running Mars surface simulation facility in the world. The facility houses crews that carry out their mission under the constraints of a simulated Mars mission with most missions two to three weeks in duration. MDRS is not a tourist attraction, please be respectful of this facility. The following statement is published on their website.
“The Mars Desert Research Station is a private research facility. We do not at any time offer tours nor are we open to visitors. People are allowed to pass the campus from Cow Dung Road, and are welcome to stop and park where allowed, and view the station from that spot. We are very sorry for the continued false information that many are given that we allow visitors on campus. Because of the research being conducted here, we are not open to the public at any time.”