Four Storylines. Many stories.

Alma & Van Zant Purcell


The land on which we stand is old—very, very old—about I.7 billion years old! Humans have walked on this vast and varied landscape for millennia. The Indigenous peoples of the Moab Valley and southeastern Utah moved seasonally seeking water, shelter, and other resources required to sustain their communities—until forced from their traditional lands upon the arrival of Europeans. Undaunted explorers and well-funded expeditions opened the region to settlers seeking to establish roots, leading to inevitable conflict. The diverse experiences and perspectives of human life are told here through stories, songs, artifacts, and pictures. Have a look!


Today, millions of people are drawn to this magical and mysterious landscape — even though the Macomb Expedition’s geologist described it as “nothing but bare and barren rocks of rich and varied colors shimmering in the sunlight.” Some visitors cite a spiritual connection to this landscape, at once marveling at its scale, colors, and shapes. Others see challenge in its untamed beauty: towers to climb, trails to conquer, and new paths to discover. Still others strive to express their emotions in words and images. Whatever your reason for visiting the canyonlands, we invite you to share your experience with us.

Hoodoos in Arches


Adjacent to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, Moab has become world-famous for its spectacular scenery and easy access to mountain biking, hiking, climbing, canyoneering, river rafting, and 4-wheeling. Recreational opportunities, vibrant arts, and a growing community make Moab a repeat destination for many – including some who become part- or full-time residents. Consequently, Moab’s challenges are familiar in many small Western towns: loss of basic industry and family-wage jobs, traffic congestion, lack of affordable housing, and a growing increase in outdoor activities that degrade parks and other public lands. Residents now are debating ways to reduce the impacts of these challenges.


For centuries, indigenous peoples have lived in the region, its geology, soil, and climate supporting their hunting and farming practices. Today, the American people own almost 65 percent of the land in Utah, with its national parks and forests, rivers, lakes, and rangeland. These public lands are managed by federal agencies to support the region’s farming, ranching, mining, and tourism industries. However, each enterprise changes the landscape, strains the ecological balance, and increases competition for limited water resources. How do gateway communities like Moab maintain the needs of their local and regional economy without harming the natural amenities that attract residents and visitors alike?