Once upon a time on our first trip to the American Southwest, my family made one of our first stops at Bandalier National Monument in northern New Mexico. There the Puebloan people lived in dramatic cliff dwellings looking out over Frijoles canyon where the river meandered under the shade of the Cottonwood trees. The vision of the story of the peoples that lived here working at the riverside while the children played in the cool waters has stayed with me ever since. So whenever I see a Cottonwood lined river valley in the middle of a desert landscape, I always think about those Puebloan peoples living out their lives with the refuge of the Cottonwoods providing shelter from the hot sun. The trees not only provide shade, but important erosion prevention as well as habitat for all kinds of wildlife including birds, insects, deer and beavers. Cottonwoods get their name from their seeds, that burst open into a cotton ball like structure that drift in the wind and fill the air with cottonwood "snow" that spreads the trees into new soil. Arriving in Canyonlands National Park in late October gave me the opportunity to see the Cottonwoods in the late stages of their fall color, a beautiful landscape indeed.