Natural Features & Ecosystems
To many, the most outstanding natural features of Canyonlands are the park's geologic formations. In each of the districts, visitors can see the remarkable effects of millions of years of erosion on a landscape of sedimentary rock.
Two unusual natural features are common in Canyonlands and intrigue both scientists and visitors: biological soil crust and ephemeral pools (potholes). Biological soil crust is a living groundcover that forms the foundation of high desert plant life.
Potholes are naturally occurring basins in sandstone that collect rainwater and wind-blown sediment. These potholes harbor organisms that are able to survive long periods of dehydration, and also serve as a breeding ground for many high desert amphibians and insects. Both of these communities are very vulnerable to human impacts.
Did You Know?
Upheaval Dome contains rock layers unlike any in the surrounding area. Scientists still debate whether this oddity is the remnant of a meteorite impact or a salt dome. More...