Canyonlands National Park is located in the American state of Utah, near city of Moab and preserves a colorful landscape eroded into countless canyons, mesas and buttes by the Colorado River and its 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 mi² (1,366 km²). Canyons are carved into the Colorado Plateau by the Colorado River and Green River.
Island in the Sky is a broad and level mesa to the north of the park between Colorado and Green river with many overlooks from the White Rim, a sandstone bench 1,200 feet (366 m) below the Island, and the rivers, which are another 1,000 feet (305 m) below the White Rim.
The Needles district is named after the red and white banded rock pinnacles which dominate it, but various other forms of naturally sculptured rock such as canyons, grabens, potholes, and a number of arches similar to the ones of the nearby Arches National Park can be found as well. Unlike Arches National Park, however, where many arches are accessible by short to moderate hikes or even by car, most of the arches in the Needles district lie in back country canyons and require long hikes or four-wheel-drive trips to reach them.
The Great Gallery, Horseshoe Canyon
This area was once home of the Ancestral Puebloan Indians, of which many traces can be found. Although the items and tools they used have been largely taken away by looters, some of their stone and mud dwellings are well-preserved. The Ancestral Puebloans also left traces in the form of petroglyphs, most notably on the so-called Newspaper Rock near the Visitor Center at the entrance of this district.
The Maze district west of the Colorado and Green rivers is the least accessible section of the park, and one of the most remote and inaccessible areas of the United States.
A detached unit to the north, Horseshoe Canyon unit, contains panels of rock art made by hunter-gatherers from the Late Archaic Period (2000-1000 B.C.) pre-dating the Ancestral Puebloans. Originally called Barrier Canyon, Horseshoe’s artifacts, dwellings, pictographs, and murals are some of the oldest in America. It is believed that the images depicting horses date from after 1540 A.D., after the Spanish re-introduced horses to America.