USGS Logo Geological Survey Bulletin 1327
The Geologic Story of Canyonlands National Park


How to See the Parks

The question of how to see the park has no simple answer, for the park is too vast and complex to comprehend by a quick visit to any one of its many and varied parts or by any one means of transportation. Some, as did Major Powell, view it only from the rivers—by boat plus a few back-breaking climbs up the bordering canyon walls. Others see only the small parts reachable by passenger cars. The more venturesome see vastly more by jeep, foot, or horseback. And a few prefer to view it as the birds do—from the air. Many, those who put aside their magazines long enough, get bird's-eye views without half trying, for Canyonlands is beneath the principal air routes connecting Los Angeles with Grand Junction and Denver. Actually, a full appreciation of all the wonders and beauties of the park is possible only by combining all these approaches and methods of locomotion, but only a few fortunate souls such as Bates Wilson have thus been able to inspect virtually every square foot of it.

The task clearly before me, then, is how best to present such a complex wonderland to you, the reader. The method I selected, after considerable thought and a few false starts, is to begin at the top—the high mesas—and work my way downward much as the rivers have done in carving out this fantastic area, to some of the broad benchlands beneath the mesas and eventually to the river channels and deep canyons. Although the approach I selected may not be the best, and admittedly is but one of several that comes to mind, I hope it gets the job done.

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Last Updated: 28-Dec-2006