Capitol Reef National Park, Wayne County, Utah
Photographer: Michael Vanden Berg
A claret cup cactus is neighbor to a basalt boulder in Capitol Reef National Park. Utah’s impressive topography directly influences temperature and precipitation and consequently shapes Utah’s flora and fauna. The state’s substantial elevation differential—over two vertical miles between the highest and lowest points—contributes to a variety of habitats and a great diversity of species. Mountains force air to flow up in a process called “orographic lifting,” which causes air to cool and humidify, and enhances precipitation.