Canyonlands Still Photography & Art Instruction Conditions


Canyonlands National Park
Guided Still Photography and Art Instruction Conditions


  1. Authorized Services – The commercial activity authorized by this authorization is Guided Still Photography and Visual Art Instruction in the front country and on established trails within Canyonlands National Parks. Art refers to Visual Art with drawing and painting instructions only. No other commercial activity is permitted.

  2. Parking and Loading/Unloading– Vehicles transporting over 15+ passengers may only park in legal bus/oversized vehicle parking spaces. If there is no legal bus parking, buses must drop off clients and park in a different location. Guide(s) are required to remain with their clients at all times. Buses may drop off and pick up passengers in a bus loading and unloading zone or, if unable, in a no-parking zone, but only for the duration of time it takes for the entire group together to load and unload.

  • Bus parking locations are Island in the Sky District Visitor Center, Green River Overlook, Grand View Point, and Whale Rock.

  1. Area Use – This authorization is applicable only for the use of the area, terms, and conditions designated herein. The area(s) authorized for use under this authorization must be left in substantially the same condition as it was prior to the activities authorized herein. Vehicle travel is restricted to front-country areas and two-wheel drive roads. Vehicle travel on backcountry 4-wheel drive roads is prohibited under this CUA. This includes the White Rim Road (including Shafer Trail Road), Salt Creek Road, Colorado Overlook Road, Elephant Hill Road (all portions beyond the Elephant Hill parking area), and all roads within the Maze District in Canyonlands NP. Vehicle parking must be in established parking areas.

  2. Approved Locations/Travel – Guided Day Hiking will be on approved trails only. A list of approved trails is attached. When hiking, guides and clients must stay on designated trails to protect biological soil crusts. Please inform all clients and guides of this critical issue. Pedestrian travel off designated trails is prohibited due to public safety and resource sensitivity concerns.

Authorized Trails in Canyonlands National Park for Still Photography & Art Instruction CUA

Island in the Sky District

Needles District

MAZE District

Alcove Spring Trail
Aztec Butte Trail
Buck Canyon Overlook Trail
Gooseberry Canyon Trail
Grand View Point Overlook Trail
Grand View Point Rim Trail
Green River Overlook Trail
Lathrop Canyon Trail
Mesa Arch Trail
Moses & Zeus Trail
Murphy Hogback Loop Trail
Murphy Point Trail
Neck Springs Trail
Shafer Canyon Overlook Trail
Syncline Loop Trail
Upheaval Canyon Trail
Upheaval Dome Overlook Trail
Whale Rock Trail
White Rim Overlook Trail
Wilhite Trail

Big Springs Canyon Trail
Cave Spring Trail
Chesler Park Loop Trail
Confluence Overlook Trail
Druid Arch
Joint Trail
Lost Canyon Trail
Peekaboo Trail (road access from Salt Flat)
Pothole Point Trail
Roadside Ruin Trail
Slickrock Trail
Wooden Shoe Canyon Trail

Horseshoe Canyon Trail

  1. Archeological & Cultural Sites– Compliance with 36 CFR 2.1 is required and includes the prohibition of "Walking on, climbing, entering, ascending, descending, or traversing an archeological or cultural resource...except in designated areas and under conditions established by the superintendent."
    1. All guides and clients are required to follow the park's "House Rules for Visiting Archeological Sites" brochure. Interpretation of Native American lifeways and traditions should be informed by SEUG’s primary interpretive themes and subthemes. These themes are informed by ethnographic studies and consultations with traditionally associated Native American Tribes.
    2. Guides will inform all clientele of the criminal penalties for illegally collecting artifacts or intentionally damaging any archeological or historic property.
    3. If human remains are observed during visits to publicly disclosed archeological sites or along trails, guides will report their location to a Park Ranger before exiting the park.
    4. Guides may lead clients to the following disclosed sites in Canyonlands only:


NEEDLES District

MAZE District

  • Aztec Butte Ruins

  • Murphy Trail and Bridge
  • Murphy Road Corral
  • Neck Spring Trail Corral
  • Wilhite Trail Site
  • Peek-a-Boo Rock Art Panel
  • Roadside Ruin
  • Cave Springs Cowboy Camp
  • Cave Springs Rock Art
  • Chesler Park Cowboy Camp
  • Horseshoe Canyon
  1. Park Entrance Fee – Individuals participating in the activity will pay the individual per-person entrance fee. Annual and lifetime federal recreational land passes are accepted. These passes are good for the owner(s) of the pass plus three additional adults 16 and over who are part of the same party. Children under 16 are not charged. Individuals or groups who have previously paid the entrance fee must show proof of prior payment. The vehicle and driver/guide have free entry into the park. The CUA holder and/or guides may not use personal annual or lifetime federal recreational land passes to gain entry to the park for themselves or their customers when conducting business.

When entering the park each time, permittees must identify themselves; show a copy of the CUA, and state that they are transporting visitors. This will enable the entrance station personnel to verify that you are on the approved list for commercial activities and are to be charged the correct commercial fee. If the entrance station is closed, arrangements should be made to pay fees.

Commercial fees paid at one unit of the Southeast Utah Group may not be used to enter another unit. Entrance to another unit of the Southeast Utah Group requires payment of entrance fees to that unit.

  1. Employee Training and Guiding – Trips must be led by a responsible employee who knows the park rules, regulations, and resources; is knowledgeable of the provisions of this authorization, and has the ability to provide competent leadership in the park so that the trips can be conducted professionally. Each group must have one person identified as the group or trip leader who will remain with the group at all times. If the party is divided into more than one group, each group will have a trip leader. Guides will ensure that each member of the group has adequate food and water for the proposed itinerary, appropriate footwear, clothing, and sun protection. An appropriately sized first aid kit that is adequate for the group size and human waste disposal bags (i.e. wag bags) will be carried by each group and all waste shall be disposed of properly. There is no place to dispose of wag bags in Canyonlands NP; these must be transported out of the park. Check here for wag bag disposal sites in Moab, Utah:

  2. Guide Qualifications – The following minimum qualifications must be met by each guide operating within Canyonlands National Park.

    1. The instructor in each commercial group must have a Standard American Red Cross First Aid Card or its equivalent and a current CPR card in their possession while in the park. Copies of cards will be submitted with the authorization application package, or as employees are hired.

    2. Guides must be at least 18 years of age.

    3. Guides must provide interpretation of the park to clients that reflect the park’s interpretive themes and significance statements.

    4. Guides must be trained in basic safety and resource protections, Leave No Trace principles, park rules and regulations, and in the requirement of the CUA conditions.

    5. Guides must brief clients on respectful etiquette when visiting archeological sites.

  3. Group Size – Group size is limited to 15 people, including clients and guides.

  4. Climbing – The use of ropes, hardware, protection, and rock anchors is not authorized. Activities that would require the use of such equipment are not authorized.

  5. Packrafting – The use of packrafts is not authorized. Activities that would require the use of such equipment are not authorized. Commercial river use is by authorized concessioners only.

  6. Camping – Commercial companies may make no more than two group site reservations per year. No other camping is authorized.

  7. Visual Artist Set Up– Artists must set up on bare rock surfaces, with or without an easel whenever possible. Completely dry washes are allowed but the artist must take extreme care to not leave any trace behind. A tarp must be used under the artist at all times to ensure no spillage or drops will cause damage to any Park resources. Setting up on open areas of sand or vegetation is prohibited with this CUA. Altering the landscape such as removing (or adding) tree branches or vegetation or clearing an area of rocks, or disturbing cairns, or soil for any purpose is prohibited. The use of props, models, or sets is prohibited.

  8. Light painting – Light painting activities of any kind are not authorized under this CUA. The use of artificial light sources for purposes other than personal route-finding or minimum-impact camping—that is, to light up landscapes, rock formations, or other park features—is prohibited.


Conditions for SEUG Authorizations

Arches & Canyonlands National Parks, Hovenweep & Natural Bridges National Monuments


  1. Permits/Licenses – The holder must obtain all permits or licenses of State or local governments, as applicable, necessary to conduct the business activities specified above and must operate in compliance with all pertinent Federal, State, and local laws and regulations.

  2. Employee/Agent Responsibility – The holder shall insure that all company employees and vehicle operators entering the park are informed of the conditions of this authorization. (The holder may be cited for any authorization violations committed by their employee and/or agent.) A copy of the entire Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) must be present and accessible at all times while conducting business in the park. A digital copy may only be used if it is stored on a tablet device with a screen size of at least 7 inches.
  3. Vehicle Markings – All vehicles must display company information that meets the following minimum requirements:

    1. Company name.

    2. Number issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) if applicable.

    3. Markings must appear on both sides of the vehicle.

    4. The letters must contrast sharply in color with the background on which the letters are place

    5. Markings must be legible, during daylight hours, from a distance of 50 feet when the vehicle is stationary.

  4. Business Operations – This authorization does not authorize the permittee to advertise, solicit business, collect any fees, or sell any goods or services on lands owned and controlled by the United States. The Authorization is for incidental business operations when there are no fixed commercial facilities within a national park area, the commercial activity originates and terminates outside the park, no money changes hands on park lands and no commercial solicitation occurs on park lands.
  5. Damages – The permittee will leave the area(s) authorized for use under this permit in substantially the same condition as it was prior to the activities authorized herein. The permittee shall pay the United States for any damage resulting from this use which would not reasonably be inherent in the use which the permittee is authorized to make of the land described in this authorization.

  6. Equal Employment Opportunity/Nondiscrimination – The permittee will comply with all provisions of Executive Order No. 11246 of September 24, 1965, as amended by Executive Order No. 11375 of October 13, 1967, and of the rules, regulations, and relevant orders of the Secretary of Labor.
  7. Insurance – The holder shall purchase at a minimum the types and amounts of insurance coverage as stated herein and agrees to comply with any revised insurance limits the Superintendent may require during the term of this authorization. The Superintendent shall not be responsible for any omissions or inadequacies of insurance coverage and amounts if such proves to be inadequate or otherwise insufficient for any reason whatsoever. The holder shall provide the Superintendent a Certificate of Insurance at the inception of this authorization and annually thereafter and shall provide the Superintendent thirty (30) days written notice of any material change in the holder’s insurance program hereunder. We suggest that you always consult with your insurance agent to make sure you have adequate coverage. All liability policies shall specify that the insurance company shall have no right of subrogation against the United States Government or shall provide that the United States of America is named as additional insured.

General Liability – The holder shall obtain general liability insurance in at least the amount of one million dollars ($1,000,000).

Automobile Liability – The holder shall obtain automobile liability insurance for commercial transportation of passengers in accordance with the minimum liability coverage limits specified by the State of Utah. Currently, minimum statutory commercial automobile liability insurance limits are as follows.


Single Purpose Activities (includes day and overnight hiking, photography and art classes, and group camping)


Commercial Vehicle Insurance – Passenger Transport (bodily injury and property damage)

Minimum per Occurrence Liability Limits*

Up to 6 passengers


7 – 15 passengers


16 – 25 passengers


26+ passengers


Liability Insurance Lapse or Cancellation – In the event that the holder’s liability insurance has lapsed or cancelled for any reason, the authorization to operate in the park shall be suspended until new insurance is in place.

  1. Closures/Cancellations – In the event of park closures or temporary delays this authorization does not grant the holder or clients any special privileges for entry into the park. Park staff may not be approached in the park for additional information regarding closures while performing their duties. The National Park Service reserves the right to:

  1. Limit the operation of authorization holders in specific areas or during specific time periods

  1. Schedule use of or close any trail, road, or other areas of attraction.

  1. Information about closures can be found at:

  1. Idling – Drivers of motor vehicles are prohibited from idling their engines except while actively loading or unloading passengers.

  2. Leaders/Guides – Each group must have one person identified as the group or trip leader who will remain with the group at all times. If the party is divided into more than one group, each group will have a trip leader. The trip leader will inform the group of all park rules and regulations and has responsibility for the group. Guides must wear company clothing and/or nametags to be identifiable.

  3. Orientation – The trip leader must provide an orientation to clients. The orientation must include basic hiking etiquette (e.g., passing other hikers), Leave No Trace principles, a resource message explaining human impacts to biological soil crusts (Don’t Bust the Crust!), park rules and regulations, safety procedures, litter, human waste, and emergencies. Each participant should be supplied with a map of the park area. Orientation materials can be found in this permit including:

  • Park Significance Statements and Interpretive Themes

  • Wilderness and Backcountry Client Orientation

  • House Rules for Visiting Archeological Sites

  1. Monitoring – The permittee is subject to monitoring of their activities by NPS personnel to ensure compliance with the terms of this agreement, federal laws, rules, requirements, policies, park regulations, and any park-specific management plans. Vehicle, operator, license, and authorization compliance inspections may occur at any time by National Park Service personnel.

  2. Trails & Walkways – All clients must stay on established trails and walkways to prevent damage to fragile desert soils. Please inform everyone of this critical issue. Pedestrian travel off designated trails is prohibited due to public safety and resource sensitivity concerns. Altering the landscape such as removing tree branches or vegetation or clearing an area of rocks, cairns, or soil for any purpose is prohibited. No building or other structures will be erected under this authorization within the parks. The construction, moving, or dismantling of rock cairns or other trail/route markers is prohibited.

  3. Noise – Permit Holder and clients will maintain a normal talking voice noise level. The use of musical instruments or amplified music is prohibited.

  4. Food and Trash – All garbage, including food scraps and cigarette butts, must be removed from park areas. Feeding wildlife is prohibited, as it poses risks to both humans and wildlife. Guides must collect all trash generated on the tour and dispose of it outside the park.

  5. Health and Sanitation – The permittee will comply with applicable public health and sanitation standards and codes. Any suspected outbreak of human illness, whether employees or guests, must be reported within 24 hours to the Public Health Consultant at 505-988-6040 and the park at e-mail us. A suspected outbreak of human illness is two or more persons with common symptoms that could be associated with contaminated water, food sources, or other adverse environmental conditions (i.e., gastrointestinal illness, zoonotic disease, etc.). Motor coaches with restrooms must keep restrooms unlocked and available to passengers. Restrooms shall be clean and regularly maintained.

  6. Water – Purified drinking water can only be obtained at the visitor center. Clients and guides should carry adequate water with them. One quart (one liter) per person is recommended. Be certain that no one becomes dehydrated.

  7. Rescues & Emergencies – The permittee shall notify the nearest National Park Service contact station or uniformed employee of an emergency or for lost or missing clients. While self-rescue is encouraged in cases where no additional resources are needed, the National Park Service retains the authority to make the determination to employ additional resources when the situation warrants.

  8. Reporting Accidents – An accident resulting in personal injury, death, or property damage shall be reported to the Superintendent as soon as possible, and no later than 24 hours after the occurrence. [36 CFR 2.33, 3.4, 4.4] All motor vehicle accidents resulting in injury, personal/government property damage, or injury to park wildlife or resources must be reported to park law enforcement immediately by dialing 911. Commercial operators must remain on the scene until the arrival of law enforcement officers.

  9. Violation Reporting – If the guide, driver, owner, company, or any other affiliated employee associated with the tour receives a citation for violating CUA conditions in the park, this citation must be reported to the Commercial Services office as soon as possible—no later than 24 hours after occurrence—at e-mail us Visit to review the CUA Suspension, Restriction, Revocation, and Application Denial Policy for Arches National Park.

  10. Commercial Vehicle Inspections – The permittee shall cooperate fully regarding the inspections of commercial vehicles within the park. Commercial vehicle safety inspections are conducted unannounced for visitor safety. Vehicles are checked for safety and mechanical deficiencies, and compliance with current state and federal laws and regulations.

  11. Suspension or Revocation of DOT Authority – If for any reason, the permittee’s Department of Transportation authority is placed in any status other than “Active”, this Authorization will be immediately suspended.

  12. CUA Annual Report (NPS form 10-660) – Within sixty (60) days after the end of each year or at the end of your business season, the holder shall submit an annual report that summarizes total in-park visitor use and includes gross revenues for the year. For the purpose of this authorization, gross revenues are defined as “the total amount received, realized by, or accruing to the business operator for all sales of goods and services provided by the business operator for payment by cash, barter, or credit pursuant to the privileges granted by the authorization. This includes income from subsidiaries or other operations located outside of lands administered by the National Park Service to the extent that they support operation authorized by the authorization. A new CUA will not be issued to prior-year CUA holders until a complete and accurate Annual Report has been submitted for the prior year. The CUA Annual Report (NPS form 10-660) is available on the park’s CUA website.

  13. Allocation – The National Park Service will retain the option to establish user allocation in future years in the event that the volume of use may increase to levels where specific controls or use limits must be imposed.

  14. Exclusive Use – The CUA holder may not reserve or attempt to exclude park visitors from any area of the park.

  15. Guide Orientation Video – It is the responsibility of each commercial guide to keep the members of your group safe while also providing a worthwhile experience. All tour guides must watch the “Commercial GUIDE Orientation & Training” video:

  16. CUA Use – Only one CUA may be used for each guided tour when entering the park and for permitted incidental activities.


General Authorization Conditions

1. False Information: The holder is prohibited from knowingly giving false information. To do so will be considered a breach of conditions and be grounds for revocation: [RE: 36 CFR 2.32(a) (3)].

2. Legal Compliance: The holder shall exercise this privilege subject to the supervision of the area Superintendent. The holder shall comply with all applicable laws and regulations of the area and terms and conditions of the authorization. The holder must acquire all permits or licenses of State or local government, as applicable, necessary to provide the services described above, and, must operate in compliance with all applicable Federal, State, and local laws and regulations, including, without limitation, all applicable park area policies, procedures and regulations. All vehicles/vessels/aircraft are required to be registered and the operators are required to have the proper licenses to operate them commercially, as required by law or regulation.

3. Rates: The holder shall provide commercial services under this authorization to visitors at reasonable rates satisfactory to the area Superintendent.

4. Operating Conditions: The holder shall provide the authorized commercial services to visitors under operating conditions satisfactory to the area Superintendent.

5. Liabilities and Claims: This authorization is issued upon the express condition that the United States, its agents and employees shall be free from all liabilities and claims for damages and/or suits for or by reason of any injury, injuries, or death to any person or persons or property of any kind whatsoever, whether to the person or property of the holder, its agents or employees, or third parties, from any cause or causes whatsoever while in or upon said premises or any part thereof during the term of this authorization or occasioned by any occupancy or use of said premises or any activity carried on by the holder in connection herewith, and the holder hereby covenants and agrees to indemnify, defend, save and hold harmless the United States, its agents, and employees from all liabilities, charges, expenses and costs on account of or by reason of any such injuries, deaths, liabilities, claims, suits or losses however occurring or damages growing out of the same.

6. Insurance: Holder agrees to carry general liability insurance against claims occasioned by the action or omissions of the holder, its agents and employees in carrying out activities and operations under this authorization. The policy shall name the United States of America as additional insured. Holder agrees to have on file with the park copies of the above insurance with the proper endorsements.

7. CUA Fees: At a minimum, the holder shall reimburse the park for all costs incurred by the park as a result of accepting and processing the application and managing and monitoring the authorized activity. Administrative costs for the application process must be paid when the application is submitted. Monitoring fees and any additional costs incurred by the park to support the commercial activity will be paid annually or on a more frequent basis as determined by mutual agreement between the Holder and the area Superintendent.

8. Benefit: No member of, or delegate to, Congress, or Resident Commissioner shall be admitted to any share or part of this authorization or to any benefit that may arise from this authorization. This restriction shall not be construed to extend to this Contract if made with a corporation or company for its general benefit.

9. Transfer: This authorization may not be transferred or assigned without the written consent of the area Superintendent.

10. Termination: This authorization may be terminated upon breach of any of the conditions herein or at the discretion of the area Superintendent.

11. Preference or Exclusivity: The holder is not entitled to any preference to renewal of this authorization except to the extent otherwise expressly provided by law. This authorization is not exclusive and is not a concession contract.

12. Construction: The holder shall not construct any structures, fixtures or improvements in the park area. The holder shall not engage in any groundbreaking activities without the express, written approval of the area Superintendent.

13. Reporting: The holder is to provide the area Superintendent upon request a statement of its gross receipts from its activities under this authorization and any other specific information related to the holder’s operations that the area Superintendent may request, including but not limited to, visitor use statistics, and resource impact assessments. The holder must submit annually the CUA Annual Report (NPS Form 10-660) and upon request the CUA Monthly Report (NPS Form 10-660A).

14. Accounting: The holder is to maintain an accounting system under which its accounts can be readily identified within its system of accounts classification. This accounting system must be capable of providing the information required by this authorization. The holder grants the United States of America access to its books and records at any time for the purpose of determining compliance with the terms and conditions of this authorization.

15. Minimum Wage: The holder is required to adhere to Executive Order 13658 – Establishing a Minimum Wage for Contractors, as applicable. The implementing regulations, including the applicable authorization clause, are incorporated by reference into this contract as if fully set forth in this contract and available at Exemption: Under Executive Order 13838, Executive Order 13658 shall not apply to contracts or contract-like instruments entered into with the Federal Government in connection with seasonal recreational services or seasonal recreational equipment rental for the general public on Federal lands, but this exemption shall not apply to lodging and food services associated with seasonal recreational services. Seasonal recreational services include river running, hunting, fishing, horseback riding, camping, mountaineering activities, recreational ski services, and youth camps.

16. Visitor Acknowledgment of Risks (VAR): The holder is not permitted to require clients sign a waiver of liability statement or form, insurance disclaimer, and/or indemnification agreement waiving the client’s right to hold the CUA holder responsible for accidents or injury occurring on NPS property. The holder is permitted to request or require a client to sign a form or statement acknowledging risk and/or indicating that certain prerequisite skills may be needed to participate in the commercial activity. The holder must provide the park with the current copy of all forms and/or statements used for this purpose and obtain written approval by the park to use the form and/or statement. A sample Acknowledgment of Risk form may be obtained by contacting the CUA office at 435-719-2123 or by going to the park CUA webpage at

17. Intellectual Property of the National Park Service: Except with the written authorization of the Director of the National Park Service, the Holder shall not assert any legal claim that the Holder or any related entity holds a trademark, tradename, servicemark or other ownership interest in the words "National Park Service", the initials "NPS", or official name of any unit or part thereof, including but not limited to any facility, logo, distinctive natural, archaeological, cultural, or historic site, within the National Park System, or any colorable likeness thereof, or the likeness of a National Park Service official uniform, badge, logo, or insignia.

18. Nondiscrimination: The holder must comply with Applicable Laws relating to nondiscrimination in providing visitor services to the public and with all equal employment opportunity provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, as amended.

19. Notification of Employee Rights: The holder must comply with all provisions of Executive Order 13496 of January 30, 2009, (Notification of Employee Rights Under Federal Labor Laws) and its implementing regulations, including the applicable contract clause, codified at 29 CFR part 471, appendix A to subpart A, all of which are incorporated by reference into this authorization as if fully set forth in this authorization.


Canyonlands' Significance Statements & Interpretive Themes

Significance Statements

Park significance statements express why Canyonlands National Park resources and values are important enough to merit national park unit designation. The following significance statements have been identified for Canyonlands National Park (please note that these statements are in no particular order):

  1. Canyonlands National Park and its expansive natural setting exhibit an array of striking geologic landscapes composed of canyons, mesas, buttes, and spires formed from multiple and varying sedimentary rock formations.

  2. Canyonlands National Park protects the confluence, significant reaches, and associated ecosystems of two major western rivers, the Green and Colorado, which have shaped the complex natural and human histories of the park and surrounding region.
  3. Canyonlands National Park contains world-class archeological sites and districts, including the Great Gallery, which is the type-site for Barrier Canyon-style rock art.
  4. An assemblage of roads, many associated with a history of mining and ranching activities, continue to provide visitors with exceptional recreational opportunities to access the backcountry of Canyonlands National Park.
  5. Canyonlands National Park provides incomparable opportunities to view superlative scenery from various perspectives above the rivers and then descend into the midst of these scenic landscapes to experience remote wildness and solitude.
  6. The diverse natural landscapes and rich cultural history of Canyonlands National Park provide outstanding opportunities for the scientific study of natural ecosystems and how they are affected by human use and climate in different settings over long periods of time.

Interpretive Themes

Interpretive themes are often described as the key stories or concepts that visitors should understand after visiting a park. They define the most important ideas or concepts communicated to visitors about a park unit. Themes are derived from—and should reflect—park purpose, significance, resources, and values. The following interpretive themes have been identified under individual topics for Canyonlands National Park:

The vast and diverse geologic landscapes of Canyonlands National Park are a result of the power of the Colorado River, the persistence of gravity, and the promise of intermittent rainfall in an arid environment.

Canyonlands National Park’s Green and Colorado rivers are the lifeblood of the region and provide a stage upon which the history of exploration and development of the American West unfolds.

The remote nature of the backcountry of Canyonlands National Park provides opportunities for visitors to discover and enjoy the wildness and solitude of the desert.

The climate, diverse geology, and life forms of Canyonlands National Park form a rich, interconnected desert ecosystem.

The petroglyphs, pictographs, granaries, and other traces of ancestral Puebloans found in Canyonlands National Park serve as windows into the region’s rich human history, and help us better understand and appreciate the lives of these prehistoric people and their relationship with the land.

Past human activities have influenced and shaped what we see and experience in Canyonlands National Park today.


Wilderness & Backcountry Client Orientation


  • The goal of wilderness orientation is to provide an education designed to promote and perpetuate public awareness of and appreciation for the park’s wilderness character, resources, and ethics.

  • Education should focus on fostering an understanding of the concept of wilderness that includes respect for the resource and the ability to adhere to appropriate, minimum-impact techniques.

  • Encourage the public to use and accept wilderness on its own terms-that is the acceptance of an undeveloped, primitive environment and the assumption of the potential risks and responsibilities involved in using and enjoying wilderness areas.

  • Southeast Utah Group wilderness is natural, untrammeled, and undeveloped and provides outstanding opportunities for solitude and primitive, unconfined recreation. It also contains a treasure trove of cultural resources. These five essential qualities of wilderness character form the foundational setting from which a broad spectrum of wilderness values is derived.

    • Natural: Wilderness maintains ecological systems that are substantially free from the effects of modern civilization.

    • Untrammeled: Wilderness is essentially unhindered and free from modern human actions that control or manipulate the community of life.

    • Undeveloped: Wilderness retains its primeval character and influence and is essentially without permanent improvements or modern human occupation.

    • Solitude or Primitive and Unconfined Recreation: Wilderness provides outstanding opportunities for solitude or primitive and unconfined recreation

    • Other Features: Wilderness may also contain ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, scenic, or historic value.


Minimum Impact Practices

Biological soil crust forms the most common ground cover in Moab, UT, and the surrounding area. This living crust retains moisture, prevents erosion, and contributes nutrients to desert plants. Biological soil crust is very fragile and takes decades to form. When hiking, always walk on marked trails, rock, or in sandy washes. Footprints and tire tracks break the bonds holding the crust together and can last for years. All vehicles and bikes must stay on designated roads. Never drive or ride over roadside vegetation or soils.


  • Plan Ahead and Prepare

  • Travel on Durable Surfaces

    • Use wash bottoms and Slickrock when traveling off-trail.
    • Do not walk through undisturbed soil crust or vegetation.
    • Do not follow unofficial trails. Travel on designated trails only.
  • Dispose of Waste Properly

    • Make all efforts to use the toilet at the trailhead prior to heading out

    • Bring a wag bag for emergencies and dispose of human waste properly

    • Keep an eye on micro trash.

  • Leave What You Find

    • All natural and cultural items in the park are protected. Respect the cultural heritage of past populations

    • Observe archaeological and cultural sites from a distance and do not enter the immediate area.

    • Do not build or knock down rock cairns. Do not etch, scratch, or otherwise mark on rocks.

  • Respect Wildlife

    • Keep all food and trash secure. Do not leave packs unattended, ravens and rodents will tear into packs. Do not feed wildlife. High winds spread trash.

    • Learn about wildlife through quiet observation and from a safe distance. Do not disturb wildlife or plants.

  • Be Considerate of Others

    • Keep your group small. If you have a larger group, divide it into smaller groups, if possible, to minimize your impact.


  • Heat, intense sunlight, low humidity, and high elevation require you to adapt to harsh desert conditions. Carry and drink at least one gallon of water each day per person; more if involved in strenuous activities. Avoid overexposure to intense sun. During hotter times of the year, save strenuous activity for mornings or evenings.

  • Storms and flash floods can hit suddenly and without warning. During a lightning storm avoid lone trees, cliff edges, and high ridges. Return to your vehicle if possible. Crouch low to the ground. Flash floods can occur without warning. Never try to cross a wash during flood conditions.

  • Winter temperatures drop well below freezing. Hypothermia is a hazard in fall, winter, and spring. Carry warm, dry clothing, and be prepared to spend a night out. Carry storm gear and a flashlight. Snow can cover rock cairns, making route finding nearly impossible after a storm. Extra traction devices for shoes are highly recommended when snow and ice cover the Slickrock.

  • Be careful near cliff edges, especially when conditions are wet or icy. Avoid loose rock. Remember, Slickrock is easier to climb up than down.

  • Stay with companions in the backcountry; separation can mean getting lost. Carry a map and compass and know how to use them. Do not count on a cellular phone to summon help, as cellular service will not reach many areas of the canyon country. If you become lost, stay where you are and wait for rescue. Wandering will endanger your life and make finding you difficult.


House Rules for Visiting Archeological Sites in Southeast Utah

The parks of the Southeast Utah Group contain sacred areas and the ancestral homeland of over thirty traditionally associated American Indian Tribes. The parks also contain sites important to descendants of non-indigenous immigrant settlers. Help the National Park Service preserve the cultural heritage of these communities by following these eleven simple rules—just like when you visit your grandma's house...

  1. Visit only where you are invited. In order to ensure the survival of these places, the park can only allow public visitation at cultural sites that can withstand the cumulative impacts caused by such traffic. When in doubt, please inquire at a park's visitor center about which sites are approved for public visitation.

  2. Don't go where you haven't been invited. When you encounter a site that is not on the public visitation list, enjoy it from a safe distance but do not enter or walk across the site. National Park Service regulations prohibit the public from entering these sites because they are either too fragile to enter or culturally taboo to visit. Please consider the challenges faced in protecting such resources, and the injury caused by the careless disregard of house rules. Help protect the sense of wonder experienced when encountering an unlisted site by not taking or posting site coordinates or geotagged photographs on social media.
  3. Keep your feet off the furniture and never rearrange it. Cultural sites, even those designated as places to tour, are very fragile. Walk carefully and stay on established trails or durable surfaces like exposed bedrock. Don't rearrange rocks on a site, even if they appear to be displaced. Avoid leaning or sitting on walls of any height.

  4. Look but don't touch. Oils from your skin damage pictographs (rock paintings) and petroglyphs (rock carvings). Never deface rock writing or grinding areas by scratching or rubbing the rock surface. It is illegal, destroys irreplaceable information about the past, and is disrespectful to others. Graffiti is vandalism!

  5. Eat outside, not in the living room. Eating in archeological sites is strictly prohibited because crumbs attract rodents that may nest within the site. Make sure that you pick up and carry out all of your trash and garbage.
  6. Don't steal anything. Many indigenous people understand these places to still be in use by their ancestors, so please don't wreck their houses or take their possessions. Leave all artifacts—including small fragments of pottery and stone chips—right where you find them. Don't collect historic cans, bottles, or other evidence of cowboy or mining camps. We appreciate your help with keeping the parks tidy but do not "clean up" any trash that could be older than 50 years.

  7. No slumber parties. Camping or sleeping in or near archeological sites damages them and leaves a mess. Smoke from campfires stains walls and cliffs, and the charcoal can contaminate earlier site deposits.

  8. Don't pee or poop in the parlor... or any other room. Never dig into the ground. Doing so might disturb fragile archeological deposits or destroy features and is illegal without an archeological permit. Human waste left at archeological sites is unsightly, and unsanitary, and could contaminate cultural deposits used in archeological research. Remember to dispose of waste at least 200 feet from archeological sites, dry washes, camps, trails, and water. Or better yet, pack it out!

  9. Listen and learn from your host. Ask questions like: Why were people here? How did they interact with the land? What did they eat or drink? Bring any questions you have back to the park's visitor center.

  10. Join the Neighborhood Watch. Let a ranger know if you see a disturbance on a site that looks fresh and manmade, or if you see someone digging, defacing park resources with graffiti, surface collecting, or metal detecting. Do not approach people engaged in illegal activities; instead, take pictures if possible and report your observations to a ranger as soon as you can.

  11. Most importantly—BE RESPECTFUL. Many sites are sacred or culturally important. Think about how you'd like someone else to act around your ancestors or when visiting your home or place of worship.

Thanks for being a courteous guest!

Last updated: March 29, 2023

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