Tag Archives: national parks

Garden of Eden, Arches National Park

Photo shows a view of the rock formations at the Garden of Eden area in Arches National Park, Utah (1960-1980).

The Garden of Eden is located in Arches National Park near Moab, Utah. With no designated trails it is more of an open hiking area where visitors can explore its various fins and geological structures including Serpentine Arch and Owl Rock. You can see medium sized arches and tiny baby arches just starting to form all over this area.

Digging for Fossils

Two workers digging around exposed fossils at Dinosaur National Monument.

Dinosaur National Monument is famous for its remarkable dinosaur quarry. Today, visitors have the opportunity to see the bones in-situ, which means that bones have been carefully exposed but left in the ground as they were found. However, in the early 1900s, the Carnegie Quarry was very active and many dinosaurs were removed, studied, and put on display. The Carnegie Quarry represents the one of the most ecologically complete assemblage of Late Jurassic dinosaurs in the entire world. Type specimens of distinct species of existing dinosaur genera first named by Edward Cope and Charles Marsh, originate from the Carnegie Quarry. Dinosaur fossils from Carnegie Quarry are housed in museum collections all over the world.

Rainbow Bridge National Park, Lake Powell

View of Rainbow Bridge across Lake Powell.

Spanning 275 feet, the Rainbow Bridge is the largest natural bridge in the world. It was formed by the action of Bridge Creek as it flowed down from the Navajo Mountain Gradually, an amazing sandstone arch was formed. The Paiute and Navajo tribes named the bridge Nonnezoshe which means “rainbow turned to stone.” For centuries, the Rainbow Bridge was considered a sacred spot by the Native American tribes who in habited the area.

After World War II, the popularity of river running in Glen Canyon made Rainbow Bridge more accessible to more people. By 1963, the gates on the Glen Canyon Dam were closed. This caused the waters of Lake Powell began to rise, which in turn facilitated more frequent motor boat access to Rainbow Bridge. As a result, thousands of people began to visit the Rainbow Bridge National Monument each year. Although this was great for tourism, the Native Americans who inhabited the outskirts of Rainbow Bridge Utah were not pleased. In an attempt to protect the religious sites against Lake Powell’s rising waters, in 1974 neighboring Navajo tribes filed suit in U.S. District Court against the Secretary of the Interior, the Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation and the Director of the National Park Service. The Court ruled against the Navajo.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Rock formations at Bryce Canyon National Park
Image of men on a cliff in 1932.

Bryce Canyon National Park lies on the eastern edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau in south central Utah. Bryce Canyon National Monument (administered by the U.S. Forest Service) was originally established on June 8, 1923 to preserve the “unusual scenic beauty, scientific interest, and importance.” On June 7, 1924, the monument’s name was changed to Utah National Park and it was transferred to the National Park Service. On February 25, 1928 Utah National Park was changed to Bryce Canyon National Park. Subsequent legislation enlarged the park to its current size of 35,835 acres.

Bryce is famous for its unique geology, consisting of a series of horseshoe-shaped amphitheaters carved from the eastern edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau in southern Utah. The erosional force of frost-wedging and the dissolving power of rainwater have shaped the colorful calcium-rich mudstone of the Claron Formation into bizarre shapes including slot canyons, windows, fins, and spires called “hoodoos.” Tinted with colors too numerous and subtle to name, these whimsically arranged rocks create a wondrous landscape of mazes, offering some of the most exciting and memorable walks and hikes imaginable.

Ponderosa pines, high elevation meadows, and fir-spruce forests border the rim of the plateau and abound with wildlife. This area boasts some of the world’s best air quality, offering panoramic views of three states and approaching 200 miles of visibility. This, coupled with the lack of nearby large light sources, creates unparalleled opportunities for stargazing.

Dinosaur National Monument

Dinosaur Quarry Visitor Center, Dinosaur National Monument. Photo by: R. Alan Mebane. 1959. Gift of National Park Service. Used in U.H.Q. July 1960.

Dinosaur National Monument preserves a wide variety of resources both from the past and today. The geological and paleontological resources that exist in the park provide glimpses into environments millions of years ago and some of the plant and animals that lived then. The Carnegie Fossil Quarry is world renowned and specimens from it are featured in museums across the globe.

Today, the diversity of life in Dinosaur’s rugged environment is a reflection of climate, geography, and the complexity of the landscape itself. The monument provides habitat for more than 1,000 native species of plants and animals and includes more than 200,000 acres of river canyons, mountains, and basins. Elevations range from under 4,750 feet (1,448 meters) near the Quarry to over 9,000 feet (2,743 meters) at Zenobia Peak. Twenty-three exposed geological strata combine with elevation and topography to create the many habitats that support plant and animal life.

Arches National Park

Delicate Arch at Arches National Park

Arches National Park acknowledges the peoples who are traditionally associated with these landscapes: Hopi Tribe, Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians, Las Vegas Paiute, Moapa Band of Paiute Indians of the Moapa River Reservation, Navajo Nation, Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, Pueblo of Zuni, Rosebud Sioux, San Juan Southern Paiute, Southern Ute Indian Tribe, Ute Indian Tribe of Uintah and Ouray Reservation, and Ute Mountain Ute Tribe.

Capitol Reef National Park

The area of Capitol Reef has been a homeland to people for thousands of years. Archaic hunters and gatherers migrated through the canyons. The Fremont Culture solidified around 500 CE (Common Era), from food foraging groups, to farmers of corn, beans and squash. Petroglyphs etched in rock walls and painted pictographs remain as sacred remnants of the ancient saga. Explorers, Latter-Day-Saint (Mormon) pioneers, and others arrived in the 1800s, settling in what is now the Fruita Rural Historic District. They planted and nurtured orchards of apples, pears, and peaches. The National Park Service preserves the stories of those who came before.