Epic Desert Road Trip Part 2: Arches & Canyonlands National Parks


Posting by Caroline Seitz

We entered the surreal world of Arches National Park, UT on Friday October 22, 2010.  It was as if we had been transported to an alien world. Bizarre rock formations appeared through the misty, rainy desert day like something out of a dream.alien-rock-225x300Arches National Park comprises 119 square miles of protected land containing over 2000 natural sandstone arches.


Even though it was cold and raining, we braved the elements and spent a few hours hiking in the park.


Most of the arches in the park have names.  The arch pictured below is “Landscape Arch.” This arch is 290 feet long but only 6 feet thick in its thinnest section. It is nearing the end of its “lifespan” – it could collapse at any moment.


The most famous arch in the park is Delicate Arch – the arch that is featured on the Utah license plate.  Below, Will is pointing to the famous arch.


Many of the arches seemed like portals into other dimensions or worlds.  Like the Star Trek Episode “City on the Edge of Forever”  – I thought if I went through this arch, I would be transported to an alternate reality.


Was that an alien creature on the other side of the portal?


No, just a beautiful raven. After exploring the arches in the freezing cold, we need to refuel ourselves and have lunch.


After our delicious lunch, we loaded up into the car and headed out to Canyonlands National Park.


Canyonlands is a totally different experience from Arches.  Easy access and day hikes are a big part of Arches, but Canyonlands is a much larger and formidable park.  Although the main roads are paved and well maintained, most of the 530 square miles of Canyonlands are only accessible via off-road vehicle, horse, raft, or foot.



One of my favorite books,  Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness by Edward Abbey features both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks (before they were National Parks) as prominent “characters” in the story.  Abbey is able to capture the essence of the look, feel, and even smell of the area.   He also echoes many of my own thoughts of the desert:  “Strolling on, it seems to me that the strangeness and wonder of existence are emphasized here, in the desert, by the comparative sparsity of the flora and fauna: life not crowded upon life as in other places but scattered abroad in spareness and simplicity, with a generous gift of space for each herb and bush and tree, each stem of grass, so that the living organism stands out bold and brave and vivid against the lifeless sand and barren rock. The extreme clarity of the desert light is equaled by the extreme individuation of desert life-forms. Love flowers best in openness and freedom.”will-pointing-canyon“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.” – Edward Abbey

Next, we’re headed to Mesa Verde National Park, CO.

Fall Changes at Reptiles Alive

Fall is always an exciting time at Reptiles Alive.

We all feel a sense of relief and accomplishment that we have made it through another super busy summer.  We presented approximately 500 shows in June, July & August at libraries, festivals, and tons of summer camps.  Whew!  It is always nice to get the break in September to re-group and get ready for the school year.

The emails and phone calls from PTA representatives and teachers begin flooding into our office as the new school year gets started.  Assemblies, classroom visits, and family fun nights are all being scheduled now, so our office staff works hard to keep up with all the bookings.  If you are interested in booking a program for your school give us a call at 703 560-0257 or send us an email at reptilesalive@gmail.com.  You can find out all about our programs for schools on our Schools Page.

Although we may not be quite as busy doing weekday shows in September as in other months, our weekends are always booked solid for us with all the fall festivals and birthday party shows and we do a lot of scout programs in the evening. You can check out which festivals we will be at on our Public Events Calendar.

More fall changes at Reptiles Alive include a new school assembly show called “Wetlands Alive!”, a new Honduran milk snake that has not yet been named, and a new assistant Animal Keeper we just hired – Amaya Perez.  Look for more information about the new show, animal, and keeper in future blog posts.

Happy Fall Everybody!!


Creature Feature: American Toad

American Toad

Anaxyrus americanus  (formerly Bufo americanus)

Reptiles Alive Name: Tony & Walkertoad-300x239

Hissstory: Tony was found on RA Wildlife Educator Tony’s driveway in May of 2009.  Walker was found in the RA tortoise yard in August of 2010.

RA Diet: Meal worms, crickets, and earthworms.

Natural Diet: Insects and small animals including baby snakes and other frogs.

Range: The northeastern and mid-Atlantic United States north into Canada.  American toads are native to the Washington DC area.

Habitat: Toads can be found nearly anywhere there is shallow water in which to breed including suburban and urban parks, yards, and gardens.

Size: On average. American toads grow  2-3.5 inches, however, the largest on record was 4 and 3/8 inches.

Lifespan: Can live up to ten years.

Reproduction: Toads breed March-July. Females choose the males with the best song.   She then lays the eggs in long spiraling strands in vernal pools and roadside ditches.

Conservation: If you have a toad living in yard, consider yourself lucky!  Toads provide pest control by eating a huge amount of insects daily. One American toad can eat up to 1,000 insects every day!!  Protect toads you find and provide shelter for toads in your yard to encourage them to stay.

Cool Facts: You can’t get warts from touching a toad – but you can get poisoned!  The warts on a toad’s body are actually poison glands.  When a toad feels threatened, thick sticky white poison will ooze out of the warts.  The poison isn’t strong enough to seriously hurt a human – but if you eat a toad, you will probably get a bad stomachache.  So, don’t eat toads!

Exploring Myakka River State Park

Located nine miles east of Sarasota FL, Myakka River State Park is one of the oldest and largest Florida state parks and protects one of the state´s most diverse natural areas.  On April 19, my Dad and I headed out for a day of hiking and picnicking with the hope of seeing a few cool Florida herp species.

We were in luck!  Wildlife was everywhere at this beautiful park.  At the picnic grounds, however, it was obvious that a few people had broken the rules against feeding wildlife because we were mobbed by cunning gray squirrels and even vultures as we enjoyed our delicious chips and sammies.


Black Vulture at the Picnic!

Squirrels and vultures were not the only non-herps we saw that day however.  A Florida invader made his presence known as Dad and I hiked through the jungle.

Next, we found an animal that is native to both Florida and Virginia.

Florida’s most famous herp was abundant in the lakes and ponds in the park.

We also saw tons of anoles – mostly Cuban anoles which are an introduced species that has been displacing the naive Carolina anole from Florida.

After spending time hiking around the forest floor, it was time to head up, up, up into the canopy. We took a walk through the treetops and then climbed a 74-foot tower for an eagle’s-eye view of natural Floridian hammocks and wetlands.


Dad and Caroline at the top of Florida

Whew, after all the hiking and climbing, we were both pretty tired. So we headed back to the house for some relaxing. And I found one more animal.


Caroline and Catfish

For more information on visiting Myakka Lake State Park, visithttp://www.floridastateparks.org/myakkariver/default.cfm

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We had a great experience with Reptiles Alive for my daughter’s 6th birthday party. Rachel arrived exactly on time, set up quickly, and immediately engaged the group of curious children. We had an impromptu dance party while waiting for last minute guests and Rachel was very accommodating. The children LOVED the show!! And my soon-to-be 11 year old wants them to come for his birthday! I highly recommend Reptiles Alive for your next event!read more

Kelly Maguire

Kelly Maguire

22:57 12 Mar 18

We just had Reptiles Alive come to our preschool and the kids loved it!! We had 4 shows over 2 days to accommodate all our children and everything went great! Caroline was very easy to work with and quick to respond to all my emails. She was our presenter too and was early each day and ready to go when the kids arrived. She really geared her show towards our audience (2-5yr olds) and had them laughing and answering her questions and touching the animals. It was perfect… we would definitely book them again!!read more

Lauren Dolinski

Lauren Dolinski

20:47 01 Mar 18

We booked Reptiles Alive for our son’s 7th birthday party. Miss Rachel put on an amazing show for the 20 kids we had over. The highlight was when my son and I had the chance to hold a long and surprisingly heavy boa constrictor named Sunflower. The show was both educational and fun for the kids, and it kept them captivated for a full hour – priceless!!read more

Rick Jandrain

Rick Jandrain

01:53 06 Feb 18

Rachel is an awesome instructor and very good with many kids. The reptiles were fascinating. This was a great birthday party for my daughter and her second grade class.read more

Robert McKeon

Robert McKeon

23:26 26 Feb 18

We invited Reptiles Alive for our birthday party. Ms. Rachel did a wonderful job to educate the kids about the fun facts of Reptiles and also kept them entertained and focused. It’s not a easy job facing a bunch of 7-year-old boys and 3-year-old preschoolers. We highly recommend Reptiles Alive show. It’s fun and full of knowledge!read more

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Tianchan Niu

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