Canyonlands, the largest of Utah’s five national parks, is neatly split into thirds by the intersection of the Green and the Colorado Rivers. Both rivers have carved thousand-foot-deep canyons through the high surrounding desert, and the view of their confluence at the center of the park is one of Canyonlands’ most impressive sights. Both of the famous rivers have now been largely tamed by a series of dams built over the last sixty years, but from this prospective one can still see the same wild scene that John Wesley Powell saw during his historical voyage down the Green and Colorado Rivers in 1869.
In July of that year, while his party was camped on the north side of the confluence, Powell and one of his men climbed above the rivers to a point just south of the present day overlook trail. In the following passage, first printed in Scribner’s Monthly in 1875, Powell describes what he saw: "From the north-west came the Green in a narrow, winding gorge. From the north-east came the Grand [Colorado] through a canyon that seemed, from where we stood, bottomless.... Wherever we looked there was a wilderness of rocks- deep gorges where the rivers are lost below cliffs, and towers, and pinnacles, and ten thousand strangely carved forms in every direction, and beyond them mountains blending with the clouds." (The Canyons of the Colorado, reprinted by Outbooks, Golden, Colorado, 1981)
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