In the late 1800s, the most important industry in the Western United States was the cattle and sheep business. Ranchers would roam the countryside looking for pastures where their livestock to graze. Around 1890, they began bringing their herds into Canyonlands National Park (though it wasn’t a park at the time). Since the area was so remote, the cowboys began setting up permanent backcountry camps where they would sometimes stay at for months with their animals.

Cave Spring Camp was one of the most important backcountry camps and to this day is well-preserved in Canyonlands’ Needles District. It was a perfect location as it features several alcoves and a natural spring (a annual water source in this arid land is crucial). The ranchers’ original kitchen is still there, as well as the fence that kept the horses out of their sleeping area. If you look closely in some of the caves you can see handprints and pictographs left there by Native Americans who lived or visited the area centuries before.

The park service has created a nice hiking trail that passes through the alcoves and gives you a nice tour of the camp. Trey’s favorite part of the short hike was the two ladders he had to scramble up.

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