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This paper provides an overview of botanical investigations in southeastern Utah, but is not so-restricted geographically. It grew out of the discovery of decades-old manuscripts on the flora of what became Canyonlands National Park in 1964, but from those typescript copies the coverage grew outward geographically and backward in time to the earliest inhabitants of what is today known as the Four Corners Region of the American Southwest. Reviewed is the account of utilization of the region and its natural resources by aboriginal inhabitants who were familiar with all of it. That early, and to an extent, continuous occupation was ultimately interdicted by peoples mainly of European origin, some of whom made the place their own by occupation and utilization, but some of whom were botanically inclined and attempted to understand and inventory the unique portions of the interesting floras encountered in this arid land of plateaus and exposed geological strata. Designation of a portion of the land wherein two rivers run into it and only one emerges as a national park changed the focus of the region from mere occupation to observation of its wonders, and the present paper is devoted to a review of the botanical wonders of the canyons of the Colorado Plateau, and more specifically those concerning the plant compliment of the Canyonlands.

Table of Contents

About the Author


Map of Canyonlands National Park




Field Botany 1950

A March Through Time

The Arches Expedition - 1963

Natural Bridges National Monument 1964

Canyonlands National Park 1964

A Flora of Canyonlands National Park

Phytogeographic Considerations


Annotated Checklist of the Canyonlands Flora

Cow Canyon

Previous and Subsequent Footprints

Navajo Basin or Canyonlands

The Navajo–Kaiparowits Project – 1971–1975

Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument

Hanging Garden

Other Miscellany


Appendix – Memory of Bates Wilson

An Afterthought

Publication Date



botanical collections, Canyonlands National Park, field botany, flora, grazing effects


Botany | Desert Ecology

Botanists in The Canyonlands of the Colorado Plateau – 1950–1983 & Prior