National Park Service Sites in Utah

Petroglyphs on the rock in Canyonlands National Park
Petroglyphs, Canyonlands National Park

Utah is known around the world for the geological wonders that are spread across the state. Thankfully, our Federal Government has seen fit over the years to set aside millions of acres of this incredible countryside and preserve and protect it for us and for future generations. In addition to the geological wonders are thousands of petroglyphs, pictographs, lithic scatters, potshards and masonry ruins left behind by thousands of years of pre-Columbian human habitation. A lot of that has been preserved and protected, too.

Update 2017: With the new Republican-controlled Federal government, significant changes have come down the pike. Donald Trump has issued an executive order directing that the Department of the Interior investigate some of the National Monuments that were designated by Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama with an eye to perhaps reduce or eliminate them entirely. The Utah state government and Congressional delegation have been working for many years to reduce the Federal government's use (and control) of Federally-owned property in the state to allow unfettered conscription of the land by cattle and sheep ranchers, mining companies and OHV enthusiasts. Designation of the monuments allowed the continuation of grazing leases that were already in place at the time but it stopped the mining and worked to reduce the impact of OHVs on the land. The two big ones under the gun in Utah are Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Bears Ears National Monument. Both are primarily BLM properties but Bears Ears does contain portions of Manti-La Sal National Forest and completely surrounds Natural Bridges National Monument. Both monuments have been a major boost to the tourism industry in Utah but in the heart of Grand Staircase-Escalante is what is touted as "the largest coal deposit in Utah." The Utah government is apparently set on reversing whatever gains the Federal EPA has made in their efforts to stop air pollution and reduce the greenhouse effect that is already under way on our world...

A view of multi-colored cliffs on the side of a mesa along the Dead Horse Mesa Scenic Byway
On the way into Island in the Sky, Canyonlands National Park

Update 2020: Zinke rubberstamped Trump's dream and Trump signed off on removing much of both Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments from Federal protection. Native American people are telling me that there are already roads built into back areas of Bears Ears as the energy and mining companies seek to destroy everything in their path to a few more bucks. With Federal approval, of course. Under cover of that, the illegal pot-hunters and looters of ancient American history are enjoying the laissez-faire attitude of the Trump gang as they also go about despoiling sacred sites and ancient cities. A couple of Hopis have told me the illegal pot-hunters are using satellite imagery to locate ancient sites and helicopters to reach them, loot them and get out before any law enforcement can get there. And that law enforcement must be tribal as the only response from Federal agencies involves a hint of lip service and little else. You can tell this bothers me... it's clearly a problem of lack of respect, and that applies to the individuals involved, too: there's a total lack of self-respect and respect for anyone else. Same for the auction houses and the buyers and sellers involved. For them, it's all about the money. Reminds me of TS Elliot's "The Hollow Men." And their world will end with a whimper...

A view of red rock buttresses and cliffs in the Kolob Canyons area of Zion National Park
In the Kolob Canyons area of Zion National Park

National Park Service Sites

Sheep Creek Bay, Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area
Sheep Creek Bay in Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area
Map showing the locations of the National Park Service Sites in Utah
A view of cliff and striated layers of mountain in Capitol Reef National Park
Along the Scenic Drive at Capitol Reef National Park

Photos courtesy of TheArmchairExplorer, CCA-by-SA 4.0 International License
Map courtesy of Cartesia MapArt US Terrain