Natural Resources Monitoring at Canyonlands National Park

Red rock landscape with sedimentary layers visible in rock formations
Chesler Park, Needles District.

NPS/A.W. Biel

The Northern Colorado Plateau Network monitors air quality, big rivers, climate, land surface phenology, landbirds, landscape dynamics, springs and seeps, upland vegetation and soils, and water quality at Canyonlands National Park. The results of that monitoring provide park managers with scientific information for decisionmaking.

Canyonlands National Park was established on September 12, 1964, "to preserve an area . . . possessing superlative scenic, scientific, and archeological features for the inspiration, benefit, and use of the public." The park preserves one of the last relatively undisturbed areas of the Colorado Plateau. Carved out of vast sedimentary rock deposits, this landscape of canyons, mesas, and deep river gorges possesses remarkable natural features that are part of a unique desert ecosystem.

Elevations range from approximately 1,189 meters (3,900 feet) on the Colorado River south of Cataract Canyon to 2,188 meters (7,180 feet) above Big Pocket in the Needles District. The climate is arid, characterized by hot, dry summers and cool to cold winters. Temperatures can reach as high as 110°F and as low as -16°F. Normal annual precipitation is 235 millimeters (9.27 inches). Although shrublands are the most diverse community type, the park is spatially dominated by upland woodlands. Upland herbaceous communities occur primarily in the Needles District. Wetland and riparian shrublands are found along the park's two major river corridors, the Colorado and the Green.

Increasing recreational use, adjacent land-use impacts, and exotic plant species invasion are the park's main natural resource management concerns. However, ambient noise levels are the lowest in the country and the night sky resources are outstanding.

Quick Reads

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    Publications and Other Information

    Several protocols are monitored at the network scale. For reporting on air quality, climate, land surface phenology, landbirds, landscape dynamics, and water quality, please visit Monitoring Reports.

    Park Briefs

    Park briefs summarize completed and upcoming monitoring for a given year.

    Source: Data Store Saved Search 514 (results presented are a subset). To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.

    Monitoring Reports

    Upland Vegetation and Soils at Canyonlands NP

    Source: Data Store Saved Search 455 (results presented are a subset). To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.

    Inventory Report and Brief

    Vegetation Classification and Mapping of Canyonlands NP

    Source: Data Store Collection 4284 (results presented are a subset). To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.

    Inventory Reports

    Bats, Climate, Invasive Exotic Plants, and Vascular Plants at Canyonlands NP

    Source: Data Store Collection 4285 (results presented are a subset). To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.

    Last updated: May 21, 2018