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Canyonlands National Park, Utah
Canyonlands National Park is the largest and most magnificent of Utah's national parks. Canyonlands is a bewildering tangle of canyons, plateaus, fissures, faults, pierced by arches and caverns, and penetrated by only a handful of dead-end roads. The 527 square miles of the park are just the core of a much larger wilderness that stretches to the horizon in every direction.
Canyonlands National Park focuses on the Y-shaped confluence of the Green and Colorado rivers, buried deep in the desert forty miles southwest of Moab. With no road down to the rivers, the park therefore splits into three different sections. The Needles, east of the Colorado, is a red-rock wonderland of sandstone pinnacles and hidden meadows that's a favorite with hikers. The Maze, west of the rivers, is a labyrinth of tortuous canyons.
The Island in the Sky offers astonishing views across the whole park and beyond, with several overlooks that can easily be toured by car. Getting from any of these sections to the others involves a drive of at least a hundred miles, so the Canyonlands is not a place that lends itself to a short visit. With no lodging and little camping inside the park, it takes a full day to even have a cursory look at a single segment.
A small part of Canyonlands is separate from the main park - the Horseshoe Canyon Unit, which covers a section of a canyon of Barrier Creek, and has many Indian figures painted on rock walls 2000 years ago.