Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park is located in southern Utah in the United Sates. It occurs near the city of Moab and is divided into four distinct areas. These areas are comprised of the Green River and Colorado Rivers and their tributaries, the Needles, the Island in the Sky, and the Maze. The park holds 337,598 acres of protected land and was established in 1964.

The four areas of Canyonland National Park, sometimes considered only three areas, are all different although they hold a similar desert ecosystem. The Needles area was so named due to the white and red striped rocks that occur throughout the area and is located to the east of the Colorado River. This area contains other geological formations including arches and canyons. The Island in the Sky area of the park lies between the Green and Colorado Rivers on a flat mesa. It holds a natural bench made of sandstone known as the White Rim, which overlooks the rivers 1,000 feet below. To the west of the Green and Colorado Rivers lies the maze area of the park, but this area is isolated and is one of the most remote places in America.

The Needles area of Canyonlands National Park was once home to Ancestral Puebloans and still contains remains of their homes, which were made of stones and mud. Most of the tools and other remnants of these people have been looted, however, but petroglyphs can still be seen in the area, most notably on Newspaper Rock, which can be seen as visitors enter the park. One section of the park, which is not attached to any other area, also holds signs of past Native American inhabitants. This area, known as the Horseshoe Canyon Unit, holds rock panels with art that was made between 2000-1000 BC. The artifacts and tools taken from this area are thought to be among the oldest in American history.

The weather in Canyonlands National Park is typically warm and arid, producing ten inches of rainfall per year and little snowfall. The park holds two weather stations managed by the National Weather Service that are located in the Neck area and the Needles area of the park. In the Needles area of the park, rainfall averages 8.49 inches per year and temperatures in July typically range between 62.4 °F and 95.4 °F.

Canyonlands National Park receives about 440,039 visitors each year. The park provides many activities to these visitors including four-wheeling, hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, kayaking, and rafting. The most popular area of the park is the Island in the Sky area, because it is the closest area to Moab, Utah. At the time the park was created, political negotiations caused the park’s boundaries to occur at Canyonlands basin, but it is thought that future conservation efforts could extend the boundaries to the natural confines in the area.

Image Caption: The mesas of Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park, as seen from the Needles district. Credit: Qfl247/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)