One of the famous national parks in the United States of America is the Canyonlands National Park which is primarily located in the southeast of Utah and is precisely near to the Moab town. The national park is surrounded by a beautiful landscape, comprising of Green River, Canyons, Buttes, Mesas and the famous river of Colorado. Historically President Lyndon Johnson passed the legislation of park creation on 12th September, 1964.
If we analyze geographically the park is divided into four different districts, the names of these districts are as follows
1) The island in the sky
2) The Needles
3) The Maze
4) The combined Rivers
All the four districts are unique in their characters and provide the visitors with unique experience, a famous author Edward Abbey once while describing the Canyonlands said that
“The most Weird, Wonderful, Magical place on the earth-There is nothing else like it anywhere”
Canyonlands is a very popular and well known destination for recreational activities. According to statistics around 40,000 people belonging to different walks of life have visited the destination since 2007. According to another statistic the park made a world record of number of visitors in 2014 which was 542,431 visitors in a year.
There are many reasons behind such a huge number of visitors visiting the park; one of the most important reason is that the geography of the park is such that it can be used for many recreational activities. Common recreational activities which can be done in the park are Hiking, Mountain Biking, backpacking and four wheel drives, all these recreational activities become a possibility due to the location of the park comprising of rugged and remote trails.
The recreational stuff is unlimited in the park, for example kayakers and rafters can enjoy their time in the calm waters of Colorado and Green River which is above the confluence. Similarly white water rapids can be found in the cataract canyon which is below the confluence. However since Colorado River does not contain any large impoundment, the management does not determine the flow of the river, rather snow melt determines it. One of the biggest attractions for the people visiting the park is The Island in the Sky District which is located in the area of Utah. Similarly the second most visited district is the Needles District, 3 percent of the park visitors are attracted towards the Maze district.
Geography of the Park:
The two famous rivers which are Green River and Colorado River syndicate inside the park, which further divides the park into three districts which are already mentioned above namely, Island in the sky, The Maze and The needles. The Colorado River passes through Canyon underneath its confluence inside the Green River.
Island in the Sky:
The district of Island in the sky is pretty broad, at the northern side of the park is level mesa which lies between the river of Colorado and Green River with numerous ignores from the White Rim, a sandstone seat 1,200 feet (366 m) beneath the Island, and the streams, which are another 1,000 feet (305 m) underneath the White Rim.
The district of Needles is at the eastern side of Colorado River, the district is dominated by rock pinnacles and this is the reason behind its name, there are many other natural rocks in the district such as gardens, canyons and potholes. There are many arches available as well in the Needles district, However these arches are not similar to the Arch National Park, rather these arches are located in the back country canyons and four wheel drive is required if one wants to reach them. Historically this area was once the residence of Ancestral Puebloans and even today many traces of it can be seen and found. The tools and items which the people of this historical area once used can still be seen even today, though many of these items and tools have been stolen by unidentified people or looters.
The location of the Maze district is the western side of Green and Colorado rivers, the area is the most difficult to reach and it requires a lot of effort to approach this location, in fact the area is considered United States most inaccessible location.
There is another area of the park which is located in the main unit’s north west, the area is called the Horseshoe Canyon Unit, this area is popular for its historic rock art panels developed by hunters in the Archaic era, the area is originally known as the barrier canyon and the dwellings, pictographs, murals and artifacts are considered oldest in United States Of America.
The south eastern part of Utah is linked to Plateau of Colorado which is basically a high desert; due to its location the temperature is not constant rather there is a lot of fluctuation. The most popular season for visit is the spring season which is April till May and also fall (mid-September till October). During these seasons the day time lows average is 30 to 50 F and the daytime highs average is 60 to 80F.
As far as summer season is concerned, it is considered difficult and hard for strenuous exercise, the reason is that temperature can go above 100F, same is the case with Monsoon season which brings with it storms often resulting into floods. In the winter season the low average is 0 to 20F and the high average is 30 to 50 F. Sometimes mild snow fall can also come in winter season which make the roads and local trails blocked.
Geology of Canyonlands National Park:
If you are talking about the show case of Geology then the ideal example for that is Canyonlands National Park, all the districts of the park are an ideal specimen of erosion worth millions of years. The Canyonlands National Park Geology is explained in the below mentioned headings which are primarily related to two main aspects of Geology which are Erosion and Decomposition.
The landscape of today is the one of erosion, since this area raised slowly the adjoining rivers which once use to deposit residue on the lowlands started to remove these residue from the developing plateau. Due to this phenomenon the Colorado and the green rivers started to carve into the layer cake (geologic) which revealed the suppressed residue which ultimately resulted in the creation of Canyonlands.
A careful study further reveals to us the fact that the only cause behind the erosion were not only the rivers, some other factors were also involved for example the thunderstorms of summer brought with them rains of heavier nature that scrub the landscape. There are some layers which erode faster than other layers.
The dissolving of the softer rocks causes the layer of the harder rock to form shelves which are exposed; these shelves give the canyon walls an appearance which is stair step. It happens once in a blue moon that the lump of the rock which is harder protects the weaker layer which is under it. A good example of this process is the Monument Basin.
The rocks which are seen now days In the Canyonlands belong to far off mountain ranges like the Appalachians and ancestral Rockies. These rocks have been breaking from these mentioned ranges from millions of years and are being carried here via water and wind, which ultimately created deposits becoming sedimentary rock layers. Similarly the large deserts of sand and dune field were developed by the thick layers brought by strong winds. There were many layers which were laid down by rivers as well.