You are currently viewing 12 Unbelievable Issues To Do In Canyonlands Nationwide Park Utah

12 Unbelievable Issues To Do In Canyonlands Nationwide Park Utah


This publish might include affiliate hyperlinks. We might obtain a small fee, for gratis to you, if you happen to make a purchase order. Learn Disclosure.

In terms of exploring one of the best scenes of nature in Utah, look no additional than Canyonlands Nationwide Park. This expansive desert panorama is the place you’ll discover flat mesa’s, towering rocky pinnacles (referred to as Needles) and Native American rock work.

Evidently, there are many issues to do in Canyonlands Nationwide Park in Utah, you’ll be happy you made a cease right here.

people standing on boulders

We loved two days exploring this nationwide park, and really feel we uncovered a lot of its high points of interest and locations to see.

On this information, we share our high tips about one of the best issues to do in Canyonlands Nationwide Park together with one of the best hikes, scenic drives, tips on how to get there, the place to remain, and extra!

The place is Canyonlands Nationwide Park?

Canyonlands Nationwide Park is considered one of 5 nationwide parks in Utah. The closest city is Moab, which is located about 30 miles away from the Islands of the Sky District, and 60 miles from The Needles District.

The added bonus of its location is that it’s also close to Arches Nationwide Park, which suggests you’ll be able to cross off Arches and Canyonlands Nationwide Park that are two extremely various nationwide parks on the similar time!

Canyonlands is a rugged, untamed land with largely unpaved roads and primitive trails. In the event you search journey, you’ll find it in abundance right here.

Instructions to Canyonlands Nationwide Park

It takes slightly below an hour from Moab to get to the Islands of the Sky District. It takes over an hour (relying on the place you depart from in Moab) to get to the Needles District.

Moab to Canyonlands is 30 miles and takes 40 minutes to drive. From Arches Nationwide Park to Canyonlands, it’s 26 miles and takes half-hour to drive.

3 Districts of Canyonlands Nationwide Park

woman standing on edge of cliff with canyon views
Islands within the Sky District – view from Mesa Arch Path

Canyonlands is exclusive in that it’s separated into three districts stretching throughout 527 sq. miles.

These three districts are created by the Colorado and Inexperienced Rivers carving their means by means of the canyon.

They meet up on the confluence and proceed shifting down south.

The Inexperienced and Colorado Rivers kind a Y by means of the nationwide park creating:

  • Islands within the Sky within the north
  • the Needles District within the Southeast
  • and the Maze District within the Southwest.

There isn’t a option to recover from the rivers to maneuver between every district from inside the park, it’s important to drive by means of the backcountry. This provides a problem to your go to because it means it’s important to exit and drive the good distance round to get to both part.

The Maze Canyonlands is called for the puzzle the oddly formed towers, aztec butte, craters, and mesas create.

Right here you can find solitude, silence and loads of journey and challenges to beat. Within the Maze Utah, you’ll discover Horseshoe Canyon which has a few of North America’s most vital rock artwork at The Nice Gallery.

So plan your journey accordingly.

woman taking photos of canyonland vista
The Needles District

Issues to do in Canyonlands Nationwide Park: Islands within the Sky District

Beneath are a number of the finest issues to do in Canyonlands Nationwide Park within the Islands within the Sky District.

1. Hike The Mesa Arch Path

people looking at mesa view
  • Distance: 0.5 miles
  • Rated: Straightforward

Top-of-the-line issues to do in Canyonlands Nationwide Park Island within the Sky is the Mesa Arch hike. It’s solely 0.5 miles return and is gorgeous, attention-grabbing and straightforward!

I liked the arch and the view behind it into the canyon and in the direction of the La Sal Mountains. Being in style, you could must line as much as get your picture taken in entrance of the arch – it’s one of the in style Canyonlands hikes!

Be sure you safely lean over the rock for a sheer drop view into the canyon. To the best sits a big rock I like to recommend climbing up for views above and over Mesa Arch.

Dawn at Mesa Arch is supposed to be the factor to do. In case you are tenting at Canyonlands it can make dawn at Mesa Arch simpler.

2. Hike Grand View Level Path

group of people looking at views of canyonland
  • Distance: 2 miles spherical journey
  • Rated: Straightforward

The Grand View Level Overlook Path begins with shut up views of the White Rim, which is a sandstone bench 1,200 ft beneath the Island.

One other 1,000 ft beneath this are the rivers. You gained’t be capable to see them shadowed by the canyon cliffs.

Be sure you step away from the sting and watch younger kids on the path as there aren’t any protecting fences and also you comply with the mesa edge virtually the whole means.

On the finish of the path you’ll be able to see far-off into the Maze and Needles district, making it among the finest Canyonlands Nationwide Park hikes to do!

We did this stroll within the afternoon on the flawed time of the day so it was hazy with the solar proper in our eyes. I’ve seen photographs with the solar shining on the view and it’s spectacular.

So the morning will most likely be higher, if you happen to can time it that means!

3. Hike Customer Middle Overlook

family looking at canyon views

If there’s one viewpoint to not miss when visiting Island within the Sky it’s the customer heart overlook.

Fortunately, it’s a simple one to examine off at the beginning of your journey. Simply stroll throughout the street from the Canyonlands Nationwide Park customer heart and there it’s. It’s a spectacular view!

4. See Buck Canyon Overlook

woman reading information board at canyonlands

Alongside the primary drive you’ll be able to pull over for a fast take a look at Buck Canyon Overlook.

You could get the sensation that each one the views look the identical. You probably have time, it’s price trying and seeing how every viewpoint has its personal distinctive perspective.

5. Stroll Schaffer Canyon and Path Overlook

shafer canyon trail winding down the cliff face

I totally advocate stopping to get a very good take a look at the switchbacks of this well-known 4 wheel drive street.

I don’t know why but it surely impressed us to return again one other day and drive down it. The Beast (our F250 truck) simply couldn’t be stopped.

6. Admire Inexperienced River Overlook

woman taking photos of river running through canyon

Inexperienced River is supposed to be an ideal place to go to for sundown.

In the event you solely have time for one sundown, I like to recommend skipping this and going to Useless Horse Level as an alternative (see tip beneath).

Islands within the Sky, Canyonlands journey video

7. Drive The Islands within the Sky Scenic Drive

We solely did one a part of the Islands within the Sky scenic drive street as we ran out of time – we did the Grand View level part from the customer heart.

To do each scenic drives by means of Island within the Sky Utah is 34 miles in whole. There’s additionally the 100-mile White Rim Street main that round and beneath the Island within the Sky.

Watch out, somebody went over the sting of their automotive whereas we visited. We have been held up within the customer heart whereas the helicopter got here in to rescue them.

Fairly scary stuff, because it’s a pleasant paved street.

Listed below are a few viewpoints we noticed on the Islands of the Sky scenic drive.

8. Drive the Shafer Canyon Street

A car parked on the side of a rocky mountain

Driving down the Shafer Canyon switchbacks into the quiet of the canyon flooring was an unbelievable expertise.

You probably have time, and an adventurous spirit, I extremely advocate it as one of many high issues to do in Canyonlands Nationwide Park!

Examine circumstances on the Customer Middle as you could want a 4WD. You could possibly at the least drive the switchbacks in a 2WD right down to the underside. I wouldn’t advocate taking the remainder of the path again to Moab in a 2WD although.

It will probably get fairly tough.

people walking in a canyon

Though, simply after I commented about how quiet and serene it was as soon as we reached the ground of the canyon, a convoy of kombis got here roaring up the path from Moab.

There have been over 30 vans on an adventurous mission, recreating the expertise of excursions which ran excursions by means of this space means again earlier than it was a nationwide park.

The 90+ 12 months previous unique proprietor was main the kombi lovers. We have been okay with it breaking the serenity because it was tremendous cool to see and listen to about it.

When you get right down to the ground you’ll be able to both return to the Shafer Canyon Viewpoint, drive deeper into Canyonlands Nationwide Park (allow required), or take the street alongside the rim to Moab.

I liked driving this street and popping out to Horseshoe Bend the place solely a few days earlier than we sat above watching the sundown right here. It’s a powerful spot.

woman standing next to a canyon

We then drove previous a random salt farm, whose shiny blue waters was a distinction to the desert purple. The street then spills out to the Colorado River which you hint again to Moab.

It took us about 3 hours to finish the Shafer Path and that was with loads of pictures stops. The switchbacks firstly have been a variety of enjoyable and never as scary as I used to be anticipating.

We had finished an identical switchback drive solely per week or so earlier than within the Valley of the Gods so felt a bit of higher ready.

Drive safely and look ahead to automobiles coming the opposite means you will have to move.

Off street autos and bikes are permitted on the 100-mile White Rim Path (permits wanted) which is supposed to take about 2 days to do.

Scorching Tip: Plan your journey to Canyonlands Islands within the Sky for the afternoon. Then head straight to Useless Horse Level State Park for sundown!

Shafer Path, Canyonlands Video

Issues to do in Canyonlands Nationwide Park: Needles District

needle rocks in canyon

The drive to the Canyonlands Nationwide Park Needles District is kind of stunning beside large orange and purple mesas, and plateaus of the parks border.

Purple wildflowers have been in bloom, cows have been grazing within the emerald inexperienced valley, and within the distance there have been even just a few buttes rising up reminding us of Monument Valley and Valley of the Gods.

Be sure you lookup on the escarpment partitions on the best way by means of – there are just a few our bodies crawling up these partitions.

woman looking at a large rock

The drive then opens up and within the distance you see the white and pink pinnacles standing collectively that give the park it’s identify – the Needles!

In Needles Canyonlands, you’ll discover sculptured rock spires, arches, canyons, upheaval dome and potholes.

Names like Satan’s Kitchen, Whale Rock, Elephant Hill and Caterpillar Arch beckon you to return go to.

9. Stroll the Slickrock Path

A group of people standing in a rocky area
  • Distance: 2.4 mile loop
  • Rated: Reasonable

The Slickrock Path was a singular path over the rock face alongside the rim of a canyon.

The depths into the canyon are nowhere close to as deep as Islands within the Sky, however nonetheless take warning.

The path follows cairns so be looking out for them as you stroll. We noticed a great deal of lizards alongside the best way.

You get stunning 360 diploma views out over the canyons and throughout to the Needles within the distance on the best way again, making it one other among the finest hikes in Canyonlands Nationwide Park.

10. Hike Pothole Level Path

people walking on rocks
  • Distance: 0.6 mile loop
  • Rated: Straightforward

It is a good simple path over slickrock and passing although various pothole communities.

There have been solely a pair that have been crammed with water. Make certain to not step in them as they’re crammed with microscopic types of life.

I liked a number of the rock formations to the best. You do get a more in-depth view of the Needles from right here, though nonetheless far-off.

11. Cave Spring Path

people standing on wooden logs
  • Distance: 0.6 mile loop
  • Rated: Straightforward

The children will benefit from the Cave Spring Path, particularly whether it is scorching.

It’s a brief loop that goes beneath the rock rim into caves, previous an historic cowboy camp, and prehistoric rock work. It completed with two ladders as much as the highest of the caves for views out over the park.

A few of the different trails I’d like to do in The Needles District are:

  • Chesler Park Viewpoint and the Chesler Park Loop
  • Confluence Overlook.

12. Drive to Elephant Hill

The scenic drives continues for six.5 miles past the customer heart ending at Large Spring Canyon Overlook.

There are a number of pullouts for trailheads, viewpoints, and one picnic space.

dirt road through a desert

We have been a bit of not sure whether or not to drive the 2wd gravel Elephant Hill Drive after studying the park brochure that mentioned “steep inclines and sharp switchbacks to check the talent of even probably the most achieved drivers.”

How might a 2WD street be that excessive?

We nervously pressed on the pedal to seek out virtually nothing excessive in any respect. There have been just a few slim roads and blind corners, but it surely was a cinch.

I now understand the outline was for the Elephant Hill 4WD observe I discussed above!!

You’ll take this tamer 2WD Elephant Hill street to get to a lot of the longer hikes within the park amongst the needles.

The drive is scenic and price going to at the least to get to the Needles.

I want nationwide park brochures had means higher info. They’re terrible to be sincere with barely any info in any nationwide parks brochure on trails and what to anticipate and many others.

I like writing these posts for you so we may also help you intend a greater journey.

We took the Elephant Hill drive not realizing what it was or the place it went. There was no info within the brochure in any respect.

Many of the info is concerning the historical past, geology and natural world of the park, however not the related stuff: what expertise every path and drive will provide and what you are able to do there.

If I had of identified I’d have gotten out of the automotive on that drive and walked a bit of extra into the needles to discover them higher.

I like to recommend you do this.

Is the Needles District price exploring?

What I liked most concerning the Needles District is that it was so quiet. We barely noticed one other particular person, which is de facto not typical of America’s nationwide parks.

If you’d like solitude, The Needles District Canyonlands is the place to return! It’s extra distant than the Islands within the Sky, which is why fewer guests come right here.

people standing on boulders

I used to be upset that we couldn’t actually discover the needles themselves, solely capable of view them from afar.

The Needles Utah is what makes this a part of the Canyonlands park particular, so I feel the flexibility to discover them makes it a worthwhile journey.

The issue is that one of the best mountain climbing trails in Canyonlands Nationwide Park that discover the Needles space are 6-miles or longer, which isn’t good for households with youthful kids.

The roads in additionally require 4WD excessive clearance and a bit of experience to drive. Although we had expertise just a few days earlier than rock crawling with a Jeep with a information, we nonetheless don’t really feel comfy happening skilled routes but on our personal!

We did look at the beginning of the 4WD Elephant Hill Observe, however noticed the slim street climbing up over the rock formations and mentioned no – it’s the most technical 4×4 street in all of UTAH. Wow!!

We actually loved the walks we did, the longest was 2.4 mile return, and it was fairly, however I’m not 100% certain it was price it. I don’t remorse visiting The Needles although, which is at all times a very good signal and subsequently makes it price a go to.

The Needles District, Canyonlands NP journey video

Suggestions for Canyonlands Nationwide Park

  • It will probably get highly regarded in Canyonlands NP in the summertime. Be ready for the warmth and pack loads of water. Do all of your mountain climbing early within the morning and don’t overdo it.Add in blurb about igloo and Hydro flask from Arches NP
  • Replenish your water bottles (put further within the automotive) on the customer heart.
  • There aren’t a variety of fences so watch out close to the sides of the canyon.
  • Shield your self if a thunderstorm rolls by means of.
  • In the event you plan to go to different nationwide parks, get the nationwide parks move. Now we have a Nationwide Parks Move, which supplies limitless entry to all federal lands. It has saved us a TON of cash on entrance charges. In any other case, there’s an entrance payment of $30 per car.
  • Rangers provide night applications and overlook talks April by means of to October. Examine on the customer heart for schedule.
  • There aren’t any bogs within the nationwide park.
  • Pack a picnic and head to White Rim Overlook picnic pavilions for a pleasant place to take a seat and eat with picnic tables.
  • Have your children take part within the Junior Ranger Program. Choose up the booklet from the customer heart and return when completed to say the pledge and get your Junior Ranger badges.
  • Plan for two days to see all of it. It should make for a really lengthy day if you happen to attempt to do it within the in the future. In any other case plan for a day (or half a day) exploring the Needles and Islands of the Sky individually. For intrepid explorers and skilled 4WD, you’ll be able to go to The Maze individually.

Finest Time to Go to Canyonlands Nationwide Park

people walking up rocks

The spring and fall months are one of the best time to go to Canyonlands Nationwide Park by way of cooler climate and fewer guests.

Snow is probably going within the winter and temperatures will likely be chilly.

Summer time will likely be baking scorching and the crowds will arrive making discovering a spot in a number of the small automotive parks tough – begin early if you happen to go to throughout the summer time.

The place to Keep at Canyonlands Nationwide Park

Tenting in Canyonlands 

For Canyonlands Nationwide Park tenting, the Islands within the Sky Campground is close to Inexperienced River. The 12 websites are first come, first served. There aren’t any water or hookups.

The Needles campground is in a beautiful setting on the base of the rocks main as much as Elephant Hill.

For campgrounds close to Canyonlands Nationwide Park, there are various choices across the Moab space. See right here and right here. 

Lodges close to Canyonlands

For accommodations close to Canyonlands Nationwide Park look no additional than Moab. There are numerous choices of locations to remain in Moab at a number of value factors. Listed below are some extremely really useful locations to remain:

Our Expertise Visiting Canyonlands Nationwide Park

My first reminiscence of mine and Craig’s journey to Canyonlands Nationwide Park Utah again in 2006 was dominated by one of the epic pure experiences of my life.

It was so electrical and vivid I can nonetheless really feel and see it 13 years later. I’m not exaggerating on the electrical half both.

We arrived into the Needles District simply because the darkish storm clouds rolled in, the rain began to pelt, and the lighting started to strike!

It felt safe-ish within the automotive, however actually weren’t too certain protected was an actual phrase when speaking about lighting strikes.

We headed straight to the Canyonlands Customer Middle to attend it out, however on the best way there was when probably the most epic pure factor of my life occurred.

islands in the sky canyonlands
Islands within the Sky District

About 100 ft off to the aspect of the automotive a lightning bolt struck the bottom.

The air round us crackled and sizzled and lit up. We noticed the bolt shoot off in numerous instructions on influence, simply as you see in animated reveals. The vitality of bolt went by means of the automotive into us (fortunately we weren’t mountain biking).

What? Did that simply occur? How might you be so thrilled and terrified on the similar time?

The customer brochure just isn’t joking when it says, ““Lighting is a severe menace. If a thunderstorm is close to, keep away from overlooks, get again in your car and shut the home windows!’

So, I used to be completely happy to return and go to Canyonlands Nationwide Park – this time outdoors of storm season and with our children.

Southwest USA Itineraries

We’re saving you time with our FREE – 2, 3 & 4 Week guides  + private updates and insider ideas! 

Featured Image

Extra Southwest Journey Suggestions

somewhere else to go to in Utah? Begin with these posts:

Pin To Save On Pinterest

I hope this information helps you intend your journey? You probably have any questions, go away a remark beneath. We stay up for exploring extra in the future, and possibly even performing some white water rafting in Cataract Canyon!

Be sure to do not miss these UTAH highlights. Printable Guidelines + insider ideas! 

Featured Image