Native American History
Discover the fascinating history of Canyonlands, where the ancient Fremont and Anasazi civilizations once thrived. Marvel at their legacy through stunning pictographs and petroglyphs found in Horseshoe Canyon and Salt Canyon. Explore the remnants of the Anasazi's granaries, including the remarkable Keyhole Ruin, believed to date back to the 12th century. Witness the later occupation of the canyons by Ute and Navajo Indians until the arrival of cattlemen in the late 1800s. Follow in the footsteps of legendary explorer John Wesley Powell as he ventured through the awe-inspiring Green and Colorado rivers within Canyonlands. Experience the park's rich heritage and natural beauty across its three distinct districts: Island in the Sky, Needles, and Maze-Standing Rock.
In the early 1900s, Mormon settlers arrived in what is now Canyonlands National Park and formed a settlement known as Spanish Valley. They worked to transform the desert landscape into an agricultural oasis by planting fruit trees, vineyards, and hayfields. Several historic structures remain from this period including several one-room schoolhouses and the former home of engineer Waldo Wilcox, now a museum. The Mormon settlers also used the area's natural resources, setting up a fish hatchery and building roads, bridges, and irrigation systems. Their influence can still be seen in the park today as many of the trails they used to access their settlements are now popular hiking routes. Today, Canyonlands National Park remains an iconic example of how humans can live harmoniously with nature.
Establishing the Park
In the 1960s, the National Park Service began to take an active role in establishing Canyonlands as a national park. In September of 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed legislation declaring Canyonlands National Park as America’s 15th national park. Since then, it has become one of Utah’s most popular tourist destinations, drawing nearly 500,000 visitors yearly.
Discover the stunning Island in the Sky, the northernmost district of Canyonlands. This expansive mesa, nestled between the Green and Colorado Rivers, offers breathtaking views and unforgettable experiences. Explore popular attractions like Upheaval Dome, Shafer and White Rim Trails, Grand View Point, and Monument Canyon.
Venture south to the captivating Needles district east of the Colorado River. You'll encounter incredible landmarks such as Angel Arch, Druid Arch, Paul Bunyan's Potty, the Grabens, Elephant Hill, and Needles here. Immerse yourself in the rich history of the Fremont people and the Anasazi, with numerous artifacts found in Salt, Davis, and Lavender Canyons.
Further west, you'll discover the enchanting Maze-Standing Rocks District. Marvel at natural wonders like Elaterite Basin, Elaterite Butte, the Maze, Standing Rocks, the Doll House, the Fins, and Ernie's Country. Each one offers a unique and awe-inspiring experience.
Please note that inner roads do not connect the Canyonlands districts. To explore another district, you'll need to exit the park. The park remains undeveloped in some areas, making hiking the only way to access certain sites. The park's headquarters is located in Moab, with visitor centers conveniently located in each district.