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Desert Southwest Gallery

Utah hosts many of America's most scenic desert parks. Canyonlands, Arches, Natural Bridges, Hovenweep, Capital Reef, Horseshoe Canyon, Escalante, and the Lake Powell / Glen Canyon National Recreation AreaCanyon Lands Inset are all located in the southeastern corner of Utah.

The Colorado River cuts across the land from the northeast to the southwest, where the Glen Canyon dam impounds the river at artificial Lake Powell before allowing it to flow into the Marble and Grand Canyons.

Author Edward Abbey wrote passionately about this region, but his polemics against "industrial tourism" served to advertise the region's recreational attractions more than any chamber of commerce could have hoped. Today, Moab (at the upper right of the map) is a mecca for adventure tourists who come to climb the cliffs, drive off-road vehicles, hike the slickrock country, raft the Colorado, and mountain bike in the beautiful, rough terrain.

Utah's Canyon Country

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A map of the Grand Canyon has difficulty conveying the size of the feature. Flowing from the northeast to the southwest, the Colorado River runs 277 miles Grand Canyon Insetthrough the canyon -- at its deepest, the river bed is 6000 feet below the rim, and at places the rims are 18 miles apart. The canyon's depth causes different climates at the rim and the river bed. The north rim at the right center of the map is the high, forested Kaibab Plateau that receives rain and snowfall, while the depths are hot desert.

A popular recreation area with spectacular scenery, Grand Canyon National Park encloses most of the canyon. Trails allow visitors to descend to the river bed either from the busy South Rim or the quieter North Rim.

John Wesley Powell's 1869 expedition was the first to traverse the canyon's entire length by boat. Their four-week trial fighting rapids while suffering from scarce provisions gave the world its first glimpse of the canyon's geologic treasures. Modern rafting expeditions regularly retrace Powell's route through a billion years of exposed geologic history.

The Grand Canyon

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All maps and content Copyright (c) 1999-2001 James R. Irwin.