Canyonlands National Park Things to Do

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    by goodfish
  • Mesa Arch
    Mesa Arch
    by Basaic
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    View of arch through tree line
    by BruceDunning

Most Recent Things to Do in Canyonlands National Park

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    Scenic Drive

    by Basaic Written Jul 17, 2012

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    You really need to explore the less accessible areas to fully appreciate the park but there are also quite a few nice overlooks available along the 20 mile scenic drove on Island in the Sky. The drive TO the park is pretty impressive too.

    Scenic Drive
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    Alcove Springs

    by Basaic Written Jul 17, 2012

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    Alcove Spring offers a nice view of an intermittent stream and a nice canyon showing the erosion caused by the stream through the years and the different rock strata that form the Canyonlands area. This stop also has a long trail leading to Taylor Canyon and connecting to other trails. Great view.

    Alcove Spring Alcove Spring Alcove Spring
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    Aztec Butte

    by Basaic Updated May 17, 2012

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    After I drove down the access road to the Scenic Drive, I turned right/north. The first place I stopped was the Aztec Butte Parking Area. Aztec Butte was visited by Ancestral Puebloan Indians who hunted and gathered in the area and built stone granaries to store the grains and food. The ruins of these structures are still visible on the butte today.

    Aztec Butte
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    Shafer Canyon Overlook

    by Basaic Written May 17, 2012

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    Just about directly across the road from the visitors center is the Shafer Canyon Overlook. This is a good introduction to the beautiful scenery you will see at the other overlooks and viewpoints along the Island in the Sky Scenic Drive. The trailhead for the Neck Spring Interpretive Trail (which I did not take) is here too.

    Shafer Canyon Overlook Shafer Canyon Overlook
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    Hiking Trails

    by Basaic Written May 17, 2012

    There are a wide variety of trails available in Canyonlands National Park. They range from very short easy trails that are handicapped accessible to long, difficult backcountry trails. I will give details on a few of these trails in the Sports Tips Section.

    Alcove Spring Trail
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    Monitor and Merrimac

    by Basaic Written May 17, 2012

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    Before you get to the visitors center is a pull off for two mesas that are close to each other, and look like they are facing one another. These formations are called the "Monitor" and the "Merrimac" after two ironclad ships that fought a famous battle during the Civil War. They look kinda shiplike to me too. There is a trail leading closer to them.

    Monitor and Merrimac Monitor and Merrimac
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    Visitors Center Displays

    by Basaic Written May 17, 2012

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    There were some very nice displays inside the visitors center explaining the geology and formation of the land and the people and animals that live (or lived) here. There is also a nice hands-on display for the kids.

    Visitors Center Displays Hands-on Kids Display
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    Island in the Sky Visitors Center

    by Basaic Written Jan 27, 2012

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    The best place to begin your visit to Canyonlands National Park is at the Island in the Sky Visitors Center. Here you can get a brochure and newspaper for the park; look over maps; and get recommendations from the helpful rangers (they had a very cute volunteer who did not want her picture posted here) on how to best enjoy your visit based on your interests and the amount of time you have to visit.

    island in the Sky Visitors Center
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    Needles: Eye Candy

    by goodfish Updated Oct 8, 2011

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    The camera's lens often can't capture the depth, breadth and impact of what the eye can see. Even worse, we ended up here under grey, rainy skies with just a few rare peeks of sunshine: whatcha gonna do. Out of desperation for a few interesting snaps, I set my Canon on vivid color to try and breathe some life into a fantastic but cloud-dulled landscape and tried like to devil to have it in my hand when the sun DID make a fleeting appearance. While not exactly accurate, they're at least a little more fun. So don't worry if the weather or light doesn't cooperate - just play with some pre-set effects until you find one that makes you happy.

    Thank goodness for those no-brainer buttons 'cause we had a lot of rain on this trip and just clicking over to few of those pre-sets made this novice shutterbug very happy.

    Chesler Park Trail, Canyonlands Chesler Park, Canyonlands Chesler Park, Canyonlands Needles, Canyonlands
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    The White Rim Trail For a Great Adventure

    by RoscoeGregg Written Jun 4, 2011

    This is one of the best mountain bike rides in the world. It is not technically challenging but it is spectacular. It travels in a loop around the Island In The Sky on a layer of hard white sandstone. It is straight forward, challenging and just fantastic.

    The ride is logistically straight forward. You can easily support the 3 to 4 day ride with a 4 wheel drive or you can do it unsupported. I prefer unsupported as it allows you to really get more into the place.

    You will need to reserve camping site with the National Park Service. Be sure to carry enough water as none is available on the trail.

    The ride begins with a blistering decent. The terrain is rolling and open. The ride ends with a side splitting climb backup to the Island In The Sky.

    I have done this ride in a 4 wheel drive as part of a big horn sheep count and I found it less than fun. On a bike with everyone from kids to grand parents it was a great trip. After several times I still would do it again. Hop on and ride it.

    As you do it think about the people that ride it in one day!!

    Gary Nichols Master Kayaker Is Always Prepared The Schafer Switch backs Getting An Early Start
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    View the Canyons

    by MarvintheMartian Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The Canyonlands offer amazing views - many believe my photos of the Canyonlands are actually the Grand Canyon, but they are not! The Canyonlands offers excellent walking, sightseeing and it is reletively quieter than the similar tourist areas of places like the Grand Canyon. Well worth the visit.

    Canylands View
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    The Needles

    by johngayton Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    This is a bit like the Grand Canyon - totally unphotographable in one shot, and in its own way equally impressive. The problem with Canyonlands from the accessible roads is that the scenery is on such a vast scale as to be pretty much uncommunicable without getting closer to the detail.

    The Needles are a panorama of rock formations forming a wall against the skyline which come into view relatively soon after passing the visitor centre. Apart from the Needles themselves there are many odd formations in the area, usually standing alone, who all I assume have names but I can't seem to find out what they are!

    Needles from East to West #1 Needles from East to West #2 Needles from East to West #3
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    Driving on the Back Country Roads

    by windsorgirl Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    There are over 100 miles of back country roads in the Island of the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park, however you must have a high clearance 4 wheel drive vehicle, or a mountain bike and some experience on how to use them!

    The White Rim Road is accessed via the exhilerating Shafer Trail which descends 1000 feet down the canyon side by a series of switchbacks.

    The White Rim Road then loops around and below the Island mesa top to various campsites and viewpoints. Trips usually take two to three days by four-wheel-drive vehicle or three to four days by mountain bike. All vehicles and bikes must remain on roads and ATVs are not permitted.

    Permits are required for all overnight camping in the backcountry and you are advised to make reservations well ahead of time, esp in the spring and fall.

    Shafer Trail
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    Newspaper Rock

    by BruceDunning Written Oct 16, 2009

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    This is a section of petroglyphs along the highway 211 on the way to Needles. It is a rather long section and high up on the rock face. It is fenced off to deter vandalism and markings by today culture. The petroglyphs are from 1,000+ years and etched by Pueblos in this area and Anasazi that lived here

    Symbols of the living and daily events Moe etchings in the rock face
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    Cave Springs-Needles District

    by BruceDunning Written Oct 16, 2009

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    This trail hike of only 3/4 mile RT is over some sand, up a couple of ladders, and then to the backside of the cave view over some slick rock trekking (a bit steep) to get back to the parking lot. This trail shows the use of it by cowboys from the mid 1800's until 1975. Outside the park they still have open range cattle grazing. A guy named John Scorup started the operation of ranching in late 1800's and continued using this area and the trails in the park are form cattle roundup paths. The cave spring area was a place for cowboys to sleep and rest and they may have stayed out here for weeks and months. Items left form those days are in the cave overhangs.

    map of the trail route Items left by cowboys-stayed in crevices Foliage near spring water Worn water erosion of rock facing CAve ledge overhang-cowboys stayed here
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Canyonlands National Park Things to Do

Segolily's Profile Photo

Canyonlands encompasses the fantastic canyon area around the confluence of the Green and Colorado River.  There are three separate areas each with their own entrance: Island in the Sky,...

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