Canyonlands National Park is a U.S. National Park located in eastern Utah near the city of Moab and preserves a colorful landscape eroded into countless canyons, mesas and buttes by the Colorado River, the Green River, and their respective tributaries. The rivers divide the park into four districts: the Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze and the rivers themselves. While these areas share a primitive desert atmosphere, each retains its own character. The park covers 527.5 square miles (1,366 km2). Canyons are carved into the Colorado Plateau by the Colorado River and Green River. Author Edward Abbey, a frequent visitor, described the Canyonlands as "the most weird, wonderful, magical place on earth—there is nothing else like it anywhere."
Canyonlands is a popular recreational destination. Over 400,000 people visited the park in 2008. The geography of the park is well suited to a number of different recreational uses. Hikers, mountain bikers, backpackers, and four-wheelers all enjoy traversing the rugged, remote trails within the Park. Rafters and kayakers float the calm stretches of the Green River and Colorado River above the confluence. Below the confluence Cataract Canyon contains powerful whitewater rapids, similar to those found in the Grand Canyon.
The Island in Sky district, with its proximity to the Moab, Utah area, attracts the majority (59 percent) of park users. The Needles district is the second most visited, drawing 35 percent of visitors. The rivers within the park and the remote Maze district each only account for 3 percent of park visitation.
Political compromise at the time of the park's creation limited the protected area to an arbitrary portion of the Canyonlands basin. Conservationists hope to complete the park by bringing the boundaries up to the high sandstone rims that form the natural border of the Canyonlands landscape.
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