Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park is an American national park located in southeastern Utah near the town of Moab. The park preserves a colorful landscape eroded into numerous canyons, mesas, and buttes by the Colorado River, the Green River, and their respective tributaries. Legislation creating the park was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on September 12, 1964.

The park is divided into four districts: the Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze, and the combined rivers—the Green and Colorado—which carved two large canyons into the Colorado Plateau. While these areas share a primitive desert atmosphere, each retains its own character. Author Edward Abbey, a frequent visitor, described the Canyonlands as "the most weird, wonderful, magical place on earth—there is nothing else like it anywhere."

In the early 1950s, Bates Wilson, then superintendent of Arches National Monument, began exploring the area to the south and west of Moab, Utah. After seeing what is now known as the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park, Wilson began advocating for the establishment of a new national park that would include the Needles. Additional explorations by Wilson and others expanded the areas proposed for inclusion into the new national park to include the confluence of Green and Colorado rivers, the Maze District, and Horseshoe Canyon.[1]

In 1961, Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall was scheduled to address a conference at Grand Canyon National Park. On his flight to the conference, he flew over the Confluence (where the Colorado and Green rivers meet). The view apparently sparked Udall's interest in Wilson's proposal for a new national park in that area and Udall began promoting the establishment of Canyonlands National Park.

Utah Senator Frank Moss first introduced legislation in Congress to create Canyonlands National Park. His legislation attempted to satisfy both nature preservationists' and commercial developers' interests. Over the next four years, his proposal was struck down, debated, revised, and reintroduced to Congress many times before being passed and signed into law.[2]

In September 1964, after several years of debate, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Pub. L.Tooltip Public Law (United States) 88–590, which established Canyonlands National Park as a new national park. Bates Wilson became the first superintendent of the new park and is often referred to as the "Father of Canyonlands."[3]

^ "National Park Service: A Conversation with Bates Wilson". Archived from the original on 2017-08-17. Retrieved 2017-08-16. ^ Smith, Thomas (1991). "The Canyonland National Park Controversy". History To Go. Retrieved 2020-11-12. ^ "Bates E. Wilson (U.S. National Park Service)". Retrieved 2020-11-06.
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