Utah is lucky to have so many national parks. In addition to the obvious conservation benefits, these parks provide recreation and additional income for many people. The history of the National Park Service – which today oversees nearly 450 natural, historical, recreational, and cultural areas – is quite fascinating. We at the Lodge at Red River Ranch thought we’d share a few of the highlights, especially about the formation of Utah’s National Parks.
• The idea for the creation of public land for “public use, resort and recreation” is credited to the artist George Catlin, who traveled widely throughout the Great Plains.
• In 1872, Yellowstone became the first national park.
• The second and third national parks, Sequoia and Yosemite, were formed in 1890.
• The Antiquities Act of 1906, signed by President Theodore Roosevelt, added historical and cultural locations to the list of protected areas.
• In 1916 President Woodrow Wilson formed the National Park Service to regulate and maintain all national public lands.
• Zion National Park was awarded national park status in 1919. Some of the land had previously been part of Mukuntuweap National Monument.
• Bryce Canyon National Park was formed in 1928.
• President Franklin D. Roosevelt reorganizes the National Park Service in 1933 to strengthen its status and consolidate its national holdings. This reorganization adds National Recreation Areas to the purview of the National Park Service.
• The first National Natural Area is formed in 1933 – Cedar Breaks Canyon in Southern Utah.
• Canyonlands National Park was formed in 1964.
• The second great reorganization of the National Park Service occurred in 1966. The mission of the National Park Service was clarified and new preservation regulations were adopted.
• Arches National Park was incorporated in 1971.
• The youngest national park in Utah, Capitol Reef, was formed in December 1971.
• The Glen Canyon National Recreation Monument – better known as Lake Powell – was established in 1972.
• President Clinton dedicated the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in 1996.
This is, of course, just a few of the headlines of the National Park Service in Utah. We encourage you to learn more, and to get outside and enjoy nearly a hundred years of preservation.