On September 12, 1964, Pres. Lyndon B Johnson signed the legislation creating the park.
Fifty years later, to the day, friends and supporters of the park, along with a host of current and former employees, marked the occasion.
Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley offered the keynote address.
Brinkley, a professor at Rice University, re-counted the creation of the park and what it has meant in the subsequent years.
Brinkley is working on a biography of Stuart Udall, who was Secretary of the Interior when the park was created.
In addition to Brinkley’s remark’s, Tugg Bates, the son of Wilson Bates, Canyonland’s first superintendent, recounted his experiences related to the creation of the park.
Bates first became aware of the area in 1950, on a pack trip led by Ross Musselman.
Bates said that over the next 9 1/2 years, he spent a lot of time in the canyonlands and met only five other people in the park, including local cowboys, and local guides Kent and Fern Frost.
Other participants at the event included dancing by the Native American performers from the Utah State University campus in Blanding, a prayer by San Juan County Commissioner Bruce Adams, and remarks by Jen Jackson Quintano, who recently published a biography of Bates entitled Blow Sand in His Soul.
The possible unilateral designation by Pres. Obama of the Greater Canyonlands National Monument was not mentioned during the event.