UtahWilderness.org

Canyonlands Basin Region

Proposed Wilderness in the Canyonlands Basin Region

Click on the image above to view a gallery of the Canyonlands Basin Region.

The creation of Canyonlands National Park in 1964 protected the core of the Canyonlands Basin, a 1,200-square-mile amphitheater ringed by the Orange Cliffs. But the park does not span the entire basin from rim to rim.

Today, along the eastern rim of the Canyonlands Basin, more than 200,000 acres of wild lands remain outside the park, chiefly on BLM lands. Geographically, geologically, and aesthetically, they are an integral part of the Canyonlands Basin and hold some of its finest attractions.

Northeast of the park lies the “Gooseneck,” the famous hairpin turn in the Colorado River gorge that dominates the view from Dead Horse Point State Park. The Gooseneck is one of the most photographed features of the entire Canyonlands Basin. It is a river runner’s doorway to Canyonlands National Park. Yet it remains outside the park boundary, and therefore is open to development.

Southeast of the Colorado River, along the eastern wall of the Canyonlands Basin, lies the Indian Creek roadless area. Indian Creek Canyon is the redrock fantasia that fills the view from Needles Overlook — a wonderland of hoodoos, spires, and knobs. It is rich in archeological sites, and it provides critical habitat for a small but growing population of desert bighorn sheep. A popular hiking area, it offers overflow camping when the Park Service campground at Squaw flats is full. Indian Creek Canyon is as intriguing as any place within Canyonlands National Park, yet it, too, lies outside the park boundary.

Southeast of Indian Creek lies lovely Harts Draw, the route of the Macomb expedition. Graced with soaring natural bridges, a perennial stream, and abundant wildlife, Harts Draw complements Canyonlands National Park but, lacking formal protection, it is open for development.

Also excluded from the park are most of the familiar landmarks along its southeastern border, including Bridger Jack Mesa, Lavender and Davis canyons, and Sixshooter Peaks.

Farther south, at the headwaters of Indian Creek, the great forested island of Shay Mountain rises above the Needles district. Most of Shay Mountain lies on the Manti-La Sal National Forest and forms a 70,000-acre roadless area lacking formal protection. West of Shay Mountain, and due south of the park, are the colorful slickrock knolls and grassy parklands at the head of Salt Creek Canyon and Butler Wash.

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