- Canyonlands National Park
Infobox_protected_area | name = Canyonlands National Park
iucn_category = II
locator_x = 69
locator_y = 85
location = San Juan, Wayne, Garfield, and Grand counties,
nearest_city = Moab
lat_degrees = 38
lat_minutes = 12
lat_seconds = 0
lat_direction = N
long_degrees = 109
long_minutes = 56
long_seconds = 0
long_direction = W
area = 337,597.83 acres
September 12, 1964
visitation_num = 392,537
visitation_year = 2006
National Park Service
Canyonlands National Park is located in the American state of
Utah, near city of Moab and preserves a colorful landscape eroded into countless canyons, mesas and buttes by the Colorado River and its tributaries. The rivers divide the park into four districts: the Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze and the rivers themselves. While these areas share a primitive desert atmosphere, each retains its own character. [cite web
title= Canyonlands National Park
accessdaymonth= 28 April
National Park Service
quote= Canyonlands preserves a colorful landscape eroded into countless canyons, mesas and buttes by the Colorado River and its tributaries. The rivers divide the park into four districts: the Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze and the rivers themselves. While these areas share a primitive desert atmosphere, each retains its own character and offers different opportunities for exploration.] The park covers 527.5 mi² (1,366 km²). Canyons are carved into the
Colorado Plateauby the Colorado River and Green River.Fact|28 April|date=April 2008
Island in the Sky is a broad and level
mesato the north of the park between Colorado and Green river with many overlooks from the White Rim, a sandstone bench convert|1200|ft|sigfig=3 below the Island, and the rivers, which are another convert|1000|ft|sigfig=3 below the White Rim.
The Needles district is named after the red and white banded rock pinnacles which dominate it, but various other forms of naturally sculptured rock such as canyons, grabens, potholes, and a number of arches similar to the ones of the nearby
Arches National Parkcan be found as well. Unlike Arches National Park, however, where many arches are accessible by short to moderate hikes or even by car, most of the arches in the Needles district lie in back country canyons and require long hikes or four-wheel-drivetrips to reach them.
This area was once home of the
Ancestral Puebloan Indians, of which many traces can be found. Although the items and tools they used have been largely taken away by looters, some of their stone and mud dwellings are well-preserved.Cite web|url=http://www.nps.gov/cany/historyculture/nativeamericans.htm|title=Native Americans|accessyear=2008|accessmonthday=August 21|publisher=U. S. National Parks Service|year=2008|author=U. S. National Parks Service|format=.pdf] The Ancestral Puebloans also left traces in the form of petroglyphs, most notably on the so-called Newspaper Rock near the Visitor Center at the entrance of this district.
The Maze district west of the Colorado and Green rivers is the least accessible section of the park, and one of the most remote and inaccessible areas of the United States.Cite web|url=http://www.nps.gov/cany/planyourvisit/maze.htm|title=Maze|accessyear=2008|accessmonthday=August 21|publisher=U. S. National Parks Service|year=2008|author=U. S. National Parks Service] Cite web|url=http://www.us-parks.com/canyonlands/the_maze_district.html|title=Canyonlands National Park - The Maze District|accessyear=2008|accessmonthday=August 21|publisher=United States National Parks and Monuments Guide|year=2008|author=United States National Parks and Monuments Guide]
A detached unit to the north, Horseshoe Canyon unit, contains panels of rock art made by hunter-gatherers from the Late Archaic Period (2000-1000 B.C.) pre-dating the Ancestral Puebloans.Cite web|url=http://www.nps.gov/cany/historyculture/pouchreport.htm|title=Horseshoe Canyon|accessyear=2008|accessmonthday=August 21|publisher=U. S. National Parks Service|year=2008|author=U. S. National Parks Service|format=.pdf] Cite web|url=http://www.apogeephoto.com/mag1-6/mag2-4rh.shtml|title=The Great Gallery of Horseshoe Canyon|accessyear=2008|accessmonthday=August 21|publisher=Apogee Photo Magazine|year=2000|author=Robert Hitchman] Cite web|url=http://www.nps.gov/cany/planyourvisit/upload/HorseshoeBook.pdf|title=The Archeology of Horseshoe Canyon|accessyear=2008|accessmonthday=August 21|publisher=U. S. National Parks Service|year=2008|author=U. S. National Parks Service|format=.pdf] Originally called Barrier Canyon, Horseshoe's artifacts, dwellings, pictographs, and murals are some of the oldest in America. It is believed that the images depicting horses date from after 1540 A.D., after the Spanish re-introduced horses to America.
A subsiding basin and nearby uplifting
mountain range(the Uncompahgre) existed in the area in Pennsylvaniantime. Seawater trapped in the subsiding basin created thick evaporitedeposits by Mid Pennsylvanian. This, along with eroded material from the nearby mountain range, become the Paradox Formation, itself a part of the Hermosa Group. Paradox salt beds started to flow later in the Pennsylvanian and probably continued to move until the end of the Jurassic.cite book |author=Harris, Ann C. |title=Geology of National Parks |publisher=Kendall Hunt Publishing Co. |year=1998 |pages= |isbn=0-7872-5353-7] Some scientists believe Upheaval Domewas created from Paradox salt bed movement, creating a salt dome, but more modern studies show that the meteoritetheory is more likely to be correct.
A warm shallow sea again flooded the region near the end of the Pennsylvanian.
Fossil-rich limestones, sandstones, and shales of the gray-colored Honaker Trail Formation resulted. A period of erosionthen ensued, creating a break in the geologic record called an unconformity. Early in the Permianan advancing sea laid down the Halgaito Shale. Coastal lowlands later returned to the area, forming the Elephant Canyon Formation.
alluvial fans filled the basin where it met the Uncompahgre Mountains, creating the Cutler red beds of iron-rich arkose sandstone. Underwater sand bars and sand dunes on the coast inter-fingered with the red beds and later became the white-colored cliff-forming Cedar Mesa Sandstone. Brightly-colored oxidized muds were then deposited, forming the Organ Rock Shale. Coastal sand dunes and marine sand bars once again became dominate, creating the White Rim Sandstone.
A second unconformity was created after the Permian sea retreated. Flood plains on an expansive lowland covered the eroded surface and mud built up in tidal flats, creating the
Moenkopi Formation. Erosion returned, forming a third unconformity. The Chinle Formation was then laid down on top of this eroded surface.
Increasingly dry climates dominated the Triassic. Therefore, sand in the form of sand dunes invaded and became the
Wingate Sandstone. For a time climatic conditions became wetter and streams cut channels through the sand dunes, forming the Kayenta Formation. Arid conditions returned to the region with a vengeance; A large desertspread over much of western North Americaand later became the Navajo Sandstone. A fourth unconformity was created by a period of erosion.
Mud flats returned, forming the
Carmel Formationand the Entrada Sandstonewas laid down next. A long period of erosion stripped away most of the San Rafael Group in the area along with any formations that may have been laid down in the Cretaceousperiod.
Laramide orogenystarted to uplift the Rocky Mountains70 million years ago and with it the Canyonlands region. Erosion intensified and when the Colorado River Canyon reached the salt beds of the Paradox Formation the overlying strata extended toward the river canyon, forming features such as The Grabens. Increased precipitation during the ice ages of the Pleistocenequickened the rate of canyon excavation along with other erosion. Similar types of erosion are ongoing, but occur at a slower rate.
* U.S. Department of the Interior (2003). "The National Parks: Index 2001–2003". Washington, D.C.
* [http://www.nps.gov/cany/ National Park Service: Canyonlands National Park]
* [http://www.canyonlandsfieldinst.org/ Canyonlands Field Institute] nonprofit support group
* [http://www.cnha.org/ Canyonlands Natural History Association] a not-for-profit organization established to assist the scientific and educational efforts of the National Park Service
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