Discover Canyonlands: A Tapestry of Geological Marvels

Imagine stepping into a world where the very fabric of the Earth is on dramatic display, with colorful canyons cutting through the horizon and lofty spires reaching up to the sky. Welcome to Canyonlands National Park, Utah’s largest national park, serving as a treasure-trove of natural beauty across over 337,000 acres. Prepare to embark on an adventure that will delight all your senses and perhaps challenge your spirit of exploration.

Divided into four distinct districts—Island in the Sky, The Needles, The Maze, and the rivers running through the heart of the park—Canyonlands offers adventurers a playground of epic proportions, with endless opportunities for exploration and discovery.

The Island in the Sky district, perched atop a massive mesa, offers sweeping panoramic views of the vast canyonlands below. Visitors can marvel at the sheer cliffs and deep canyons carved by the Colorado and Green Rivers, or embark on scenic drives and short hikes to iconic viewpoints such as Mesa Arch and Grand View Point.

In contrast, The Needles district boasts a labyrinth of towering sandstone spires and rock formations, interspersed with meandering trails that lead to hidden alcoves and ancient ruins. Hikers can traverse the famous Chesler Park Loop or venture deep into the backcountry on multi-day backpacking trips.

Meanwhile, The Maze district—arguably the most remote and rugged section of the park—offers a true wilderness experience, with challenging terrain and limited access. Here, intrepid adventurers can explore narrow slot canyons, towering buttes, and ancient rock art left behind by the region’s early inhabitants.

Throughout Canyonlands National Park, visitors can immerse themselves in the rich history and natural beauty of the American Southwest, where every trail leads to a new adventure and every viewpoint offers a breathtaking glimpse into the untamed wilderness that defines this iconic landscape.


Top 3 Facts About Canyonlands National Park


Dark Sky Park

Canyonlands National Park is designated as an International Dark Sky Park, making it an ideal destination for stargazing. On clear nights, visitors can see thousands of stars, planets, and even the Milky Way with the naked eye.


Geological Diversity

The park is divided into four distinct districts—Island in the Sky, The Needles, The Maze, and the rivers running through the heart of the park—each offering unique geological formations and landscapes.


River Canyons

Canyonlands is home to some of the most rugged and remote river canyons in the United States, including those carved by the Colorado and Green Rivers. These canyons reach depths of up to 2,000 feet, showcasing the power of erosion over millions of years.

Camping and transportation in Canyonlands National Park

info_iconBackcountry camping permits required for wilderness camping opportunities.

How to Get to Canyonlands National Park

Getting to Canyonlands National Park involves traveling by car, as the park is located in a remote area of southeastern Utah. Here are several common routes:

  • From Moab, Utah: Moab is the nearest town to Canyonlands National Park, located approximately 30-40 minutes away. From Moab, take Highway 191 north for about 10 miles, then turn onto Highway 313 west towards Canyonlands. Follow Highway 313 for approximately 22 miles until you reach the entrance to the Island in the Sky district of the park.
  • From Arches National Park: If you’re visiting Arches National Park, you can easily drive to Canyonlands from there. From the entrance of Arches, head north on Highway 191 for about 10 miles, then turn onto Highway 313 west towards Canyonlands. Follow Highway 313 for approximately 22 miles until you reach the entrance to the Island in the Sky district.
  • From Salt Lake City, Utah: Canyonlands National Park is about a 4.5 to 5-hour drive southeast of Salt Lake City. Take Interstate 15 south to Interstate 70 east, then take Exit 182 onto Highway 191 south towards Moab. From Moab, follow the directions above to reach the park.

Places to Stay Near Canyonlands National Park

Near Canyonlands National Park, visitors have a variety of accommodation options, including campgrounds, RV parks, lodges, and hotels. Here are some popular places to stay near Canyonlands:

  • Moab, Utah: Moab is the nearest town to Canyonlands National Park and offers numerous lodging options, including campgrounds, RV parks, hotels, motels, cabins, and vacation rentals. Many visitors choose to stay in Moab due to its proximity to both Canyonlands and Arches National Park.
  • Island in the Sky Campground: Located within Canyonlands National Park, the Island in the Sky Campground offers basic amenities and stunning views of the surrounding canyons. Reservations are not accepted, and campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • The Needles Outpost: This private campground is located near the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park and offers tent camping, RV sites, and cabin rentals. It provides easy access to hiking trails and other outdoor activities in the area.
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Best Time to Go to Canyonlands National Park







Spring is an ideal time to visit Canyonlands National Park, as the weather is mild, and the landscape comes alive with vibrant wildflowers and budding vegetation. Temperatures during the day are comfortable, making it perfect for hiking, exploring, and enjoying the park’s stunning vistas. Spring also brings the potential for seasonal waterfalls and flowing rivers, adding an extra dimension to the park’s natural beauty. However, visitors should be prepared for occasional rain showers and fluctuating temperatures, especially in early spring.

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Must-See Attractions

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Mesa Arch

Mesa Arch is one of Canyonlands’ most famous landmarks, particularly popular for sunrise photography. This natural arch frames the expansive canyon landscape in the distance, creating a breathtaking vista.

Island in the Sky

The Island in the Sky district offers panoramic views of the surrounding canyons, including the confluence of the Colorado and Green Rivers. Visitors can explore numerous viewpoints along the scenic drive, such as Grand View Point and Buck Canyon Overlook.

Horseshoe Canyon

Horseshoe Canyon is home to some of North America’s most significant rock art panels, including the Great Gallery, which features ancient pictographs dating back thousands of years.

Helpful Tips: Making the Most of Your Adventure to Canyonlands National Park

Plan Ahead

Plan Ahead

Research the park’s attractions, hiking trails, and facilities before your visit to ensure you make the most of your time in the park. Consider checking the park’s website for any updates on trail conditions, closures, or special events.

Pack Appropriately

Pack Appropriately

Wear sturdy footwear and comfortable clothing suitable for hiking and exploring rocky terrain. Sun protection, including a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen, is essential, as the sun can be intense, even in cooler months.

Respect Wildlife

Respect Wildlife

Canyonlands is home to a variety of wildlife, including desert bighorn sheep, coyotes, and rattlesnakes. Be aware of your surroundings and keep a safe distance from wildlife to avoid disturbing them or putting yourself in danger.

Stay Informed

Be Prepared for Remote Areas

Some areas of Canyonlands, particularly in the Maze district, are remote and rugged, with limited access and services. Be prepared for primitive camping conditions, carry a map or GPS device, and let someone know your itinerary if venturing into these areas.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Canyonlands National Park

The best time to visit Canyonlands is typically in the spring and fall when temperatures are milder, and crowds are smaller. Summer can be hot, while winter brings colder temperatures and occasional snow.

Yes, there is an entrance fee to enter Canyonlands National Park. Fees vary depending on the type of vehicle and are valid for seven consecutive days. Annual passes and senior passes are also available for purchase.

Yes, Canyonlands offers several campgrounds with both reservable and first-come, first-served sites. Backcountry camping is also allowed with a permit, but certain restrictions apply.

While the park does not offer guided tours, several tour companies in nearby towns like Moab provide guided excursions to Canyonlands, offering informative experiences for visitors.

Popular activities in Canyonlands include hiking, backpacking, scenic drives, photography, stargazing, and wildlife viewing. The park also offers opportunities for rafting and kayaking on the Colorado and Green Rivers.

No, the use of drones is prohibited in Canyonlands National Park to protect wildlife, visitor experiences, and sensitive cultural and natural resources.

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