Connect  •  Explore  •  Collaborate  •  Stewardship

The Friends of Arches and Canyonlands Parks recognize the importance of the National Park Service’s need to build community relationships and partnerships. The Friends offer several programs that will engage the public in caring for and connecting to the land, as well as raise awareness of the importance of protecting these sensitive places.

Volunteer Stewardship
Youth Education
Night Sky
Voices of Canyonlands
Volunteer Stewardship


The Volunteer Stewardship Program

The Volunteer Stewardship Program assists the National Park Service by coordinating volunteer activities. There are several opportunities for volunteer stewards to provide an extension to the parks “boots on ground” philosophy to enhance the visitor’s experience. For more information on volunteer opportunties contact us.  

Volunteer opportunities include:

Cultural and Historic Resource Monitoring – Site Stewardship

Volunteers assist the Cultural Resource staff with monitoring and documenting archaeology sites located within the four national parks of southeast Utah. The stewards will monitor their assigned sites for impacts and provide important data that allow the cultural resource staff to maintain an on-going log of natural or human caused changes, and to intervene as necessary to prevent further long-lasting impacts. Watch a news story on the Site Stewardship Program: Environmental "guardian angels."

Graffiti Monitoring

Volunteers will assist the Park Service with monitoring graffiti found on the natural resources within the parks. This includes words, colors, or shapes drawn, carved, scratched, or painted on the rocks, historic relics, or man-made structures. Volunteers will work closely with the Arches Interpretative staff and receive specific graffiti removal training. Where graffiti is an on-going problem, volunteers will be assigned a date to visit a specific area of Arches, and be asked to visit their site on a quarterly basis (especially in the Spring and Fall) to locate and report new graffiti. Volunteers will be visible and will be required to interact with visitors and educate the public on the laws regarding vandalism in the park. Watch a news story: Volunteers work to clean up growing graffiti problem. Read an Op Ed in the Salt Lake Tribune: Corps of volunteers needed in Utah’s parks.

Trail Stewards

Volunteers will be assigned a specific trail within one of the four National Parks in southeast Utah. They will monitor their assigned trail at least twice per year to insure the trails are properly marked, look for any hazardous issues, and to interact with visitors.

Weed Warriors

On an annual basis, for one to three days in late summer or early fall, the Volunteer Stewards will work closely with the Natural Resource staff to assist with invasive weed removal in Arches, the Needles District of Canyonlands, and the Potash boat ramp. Volunteers will work closely with staff to identify a variety of invasive weeds including ripgut brome, puncture vine, russian thistle, tamarisk, and russian olive. Volunteers will be required to hand pull, chain saw, and cut to remove the weeds. The weeds will be piled and debris cleaned up.

Special Projects/Events

Volunteers will be asked to participate in special park projects and events as needed. On occasion the park service will conduct special events such as the Arches Quarter Release and Public Lands Day. There also may be an opportunity to participate in one-time projects in which the park will need extra helping hands to assist in the completion of the project. All volunteers on the Friends Volunteer Stewardship roster will be asked to assist if available.  
Youth Education


Photo courtesy of the National Park Service

Youth Education Programs

The Friends organization supports programs that encourage visiting youth, diverse populations, and local residents to care for their surrounding parks. The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow and we will provide young people with opportunities to explore and form their own connections to the landscapes, and grow as lifelong stewards of national parks.  

Youth programs include:

Youth Art in the Parks “Look Where We Live”

On an annual basis 4th and 5th grade classes will learn landscape art lessons as part of the school curriculum. The Friends will conduct in classroom education on the legacy of Bates Wilson and his influence on young people’s connection to the parks. The children will then take a field trip into the national park and apply their learning into art.  Their artwork will be on exhibit during the month of January. See the outcome of the 2013-14 class here.  

Bates Wilson Youth Camp

One of the core values of the Friends is to connect youth to the national parks. We recognize that natural places are vital for children, their children, and continuing generations. The Camp takes place for three days and two nights every autumn. This camp is offered for youth in 8th through 12th grades. There are a variety of objectives envisioned to ensure that camp participants obtain an experience that is meaningful and engages them in the discovery of the amazing landscapes that can be found in the National Parks of the Southeast Utah Group. Interested students must complete an application to be considered for the camp. There is a $50 registration fee to reserve space in the camp. The Friends underwrites the full cost of the camp. Deadline for application is September 30, 2016. Bates Wilson Camp Application 2016 (pdf)    Quotes from 2014 Camp Attendees (pdf)  

Engaging Urban Youth in Southeast Utah Parks

In celebration of the National Park Service's Centennial the Friends, in partnership with the National Park Conservation Association and Youth Works Salt Lake City, will implement a new youth camp emphasizing underserved urban high school age youth.  Most of these kids have not been to a national park or to the southern Utah majestic red rock landscapes. This camp will focus on outdoor education, service projects and discussions with various land managers and outfitters on potenital job opportunities in natural resource management.  The camp will take place in the spring and will include camping, meals, visits to the southeast Utah national parks for ranger led nature hikes and providing service projects within the parks.

Latinos In Action (LIA) Moab Adventure

The Friends will partner with the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, O.A.R.S. and Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hiking and the Outdoors (HECHO) in offering the first annual LIA Moab Adventure.  In early summer LIA will travel to Moab for a weekend filled with camping, whitewater rafting, Firery Furnace ranger led hike in Arches National Parks, and information discussion with a variety of special guests that will engage latino youth in the wonders of canyon country.  
Night Sky


Photo courtesy of the National Park Service

Night Sky

The Friends supports the preservation of the night skies and works closely with the National Parks Dark Skies Program.

During the summer months, the Park provides an Astronomy Ranger Program under the spectacular starry skies. During the Spring and Fall the Friends in coordination with the Park Services sponsors night sky viewing within the national parks. Special guests such as Seth Jarvis, the Director of the Clark’s Planetarium in Salt Lake City come to the park to conduct “Star Parties” for the visitors and local communities. The Friends works with local groups in sponsoring night sky programs geared towards educating the residents and visitors of the importance of maintaining the dark skies.

Watch this video on the Colorado Plateau Dark Sky Cooperative

Voices of Canyonlands


Voices of Canyonlands

The Friends of Arches and Canyonlands Parks through a grant from the Utah Humanities Council and Utah State History sponsored this project to conduct oral histories of those involved with the establishment of Canyonlands National Park.  The recorded interviews were transcribed and are housed with the NPS and the Friends archives.  These important oral histories were presented at the Moab Information Center and on local radio shows.  Interviews included Caroline, Julia and Alan Wilson; Lloyd Pierson, Ray Tibbetts, Karl Tangren, KC DenDooven, Supt. Kate Cannon, Heidi Redd and others.  Topics included the surrounding political climate, the attributes that made it qualify, the field work that had to take place, discoveries of arches, ruins, rock art, etc.  There was a special emphasis on Bates Wilson, the first superintendent and “father” of Canyonlands NP.  Thanks to Howard Berkes at NPR we were able to include the voice of Bates Wilson from a 1982 interview.

The oral histories were combined with narration, music and sound effects into two entertaining and educational audio features centered on a theme of “The Spirit of Canyonlands.”  Canyonlands was designed as America’s first “wilderness” national park.  It was not a historic battleground, building or developed landscape.  It is unique in the park service.

Check back here soon to listen to the audio features.