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National Park Mystery Photo 25 Revealed: It's The Cowboy Camp At Canyonlands National Park

This alcove in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park long was used by cowboys while they tended to cattle on the open range. The cupboard that set up this mystery can be seen along the wall towards the back of the alcove. Kurt Repanshek photo.

Cowboys and the landscape that today is Canyonlands National Park long went together. Early in the 1900s, one cattle company actually grazed from the area now known as Natural Bridges National Monument all the way north into the Needles District of Canyonlands.

According to National Park Service historians, a cattleman known as John Albert Scorup long ran cattle in the canyon country encompassed by those units of the National Park System. He really got things going in 1926, when he and his "partners formed the Scorup-Sommerville Cattle Company, which eventually grew to be the largest in Utah. Their herd varied from 7,000 to 10,000 head and ranged over 1,800,000 acres..."

Now, with such a large herd roaming over such a large landscape, cowboys would stay out on the range. The rock alcoves in the Needles District suited some of the cowboys quite well, especially because of natural seeps that provided running water.

This Mystery Photo was taken of the "cowboy camp" at Cave Spring in the park's Needles District. It actually was used from the late 1800s until 1975, according to the National Park Service.


John Albert Scorup is my husband's grandfather and he knew him well. He's also in the Cowboy Hall of Fame. I guess we need to take a trip and go see the actual place where this photo was taken. Thanks for the entry and photo.

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