In the 1950s and early 1960s, Arches National Monument Superintendent Bates Wilson advocated the creation of a National Park in what is now Canyonlands. Wilson led government officials on jeep tours which featured lengthy talks over campfires and hearty dutch oven dinners. Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall joined one of these tours in 1961, and took the campaign to Washington.
In 1962, the Canyonlands park bill was introduced by Utah Democratic Senator Frank Moss (in photo above). Also that year, the U.S. Department of the Interior published a paper entitled A Proposed Canyonlands National Park containing evocative passages such as:
"Rock -- carved, colored and clothed by weather -- controls the character of our land. Nowhere is the relationship between earth's framework and the forces that shape it more dramatic than in the plateau and canyon country of the American Southwest."
On September 12, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Public Law 88-590 establishing Canyonlands National Park. Canyonlands expanded to its current size of 337,598 acres on November 12, 1971 when the Maze, the Land of Standing Rocks, as well as Davis and Lavender canyons were added to the park (Public Law 92-154).
Last updated: October 21, 2019