Black and white photo of boats from a 1921 USGS Expedition in Cataract Canyon.
Boats from a 1921 USGS Expedition of Lower Cataract Canyon, led by E.C. LaRue

NPS Archives: E.C. LaRue, USGS c. 1921


Diverse Cultural Histories

Canyonlands has been home to people for over 10,000 years. Traditions and ways of life developed and changed as cultures interacted with each other and the landscape. People moved and migrated. They communicated stories and passed on knowledge. Canyonlands is a living, dynamic cultural landscape that many still call home today.

American Indians
Humans first visited Canyonlands over 10,000 years ago. Nomadic groups of hunter-gatherers roamed throughout the southwest from 8,000 BCE to 500 BCE (Before Common Era). Ancestral Puebloans thrived: farming and living in what is now Canyonlands. The descendents of these groups―modern day Native American tribes, continue their relationship with this landscape.

Non-Indigenous Settlement and Exploration
For early explorers, Canyonlands offered more of an impediment to travel than a destination.

Miners & Ranchers
From the 1880s to 1975, local ranchers used much of Canyonlands for winter pasture. Cowboys searched the canyons for good feed and water.

Park Founders
In the 1950s and early 1960s, Arches National Monument Superintendent Bates Wilson advocated the creation of a national park in what is now Canyonlands.

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    Last updated: November 20, 2020

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