Canyonlands National Park Travel Guide

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

Canyonlands National Park Things to Do

  • Candlestick Tower

    This is a nice formation called the candlestick tower. I guess it looks kinda like a candelabra or something. Who thinks up some of these names?

  • Buck Canyon Overlook-Island in Sky

    The views form here are fabulous and show the erosion of the earth from water movement The depth of the wedge was around 300 feet.

  • Island in the Sky: Shafer Overlook

    This is an easy, unpaved stroll to a really fabulous overlook right across from the visitor center. From here you can see the Shafer Trail - built in the early 1900's as a horse path, and then used to move uranium ore - that winds down into the canyon to connect with the 100-mile loop of White Rim Road, or Potash Road farther east. You need a...

  • Needles: Joint Trail

    If you are planning on doing the Chesler/Joint Loop, this is a continuation of my previous tip with thanks again to David and Utah Trails for the borrowed link to the useful guide (below). I've also included a screen capture from the park website's map in my Chesler Park/Devil's Kitchen hike review which can be used as a reference.At the end of a...

  • Needles: Chesler Park

    So as promised in the previous tip, here's the skinny on the Chesler Park portion of Chesler/Joint. This portion of the loop is about about 4.5 miles in length, and a real honey. It has its share of big ups and downs but not much for elevation change: a good thing for this flatlander. The trail travels over sections of slickrock, sand and dirt,...

  • Needles: Chesler Park/Devil's Kitchen

    Needles is by far our favorite unit of the three in Canyonlands we’ve explored. It is a 75-mile drive from Moab but the payoff is in spades: some of most ridiculously gorgeous trails in Utah, and having had them, for the most part, all to ourselves. This is a hiker/ backpacker destination that requires some effort to fully appreciate so overlook...

  • Horseshoe Canyon: the hike

    Besides the pictographs, one of the big paybacks of Horseshoe is the canyon itself. You descend 750 feet of winding dirt and slickrock to the floor, and follow a wash: between towering sandstone cliffs, past interesting alcoves, and among rabbitbrush and wildflowers. Ancient peoples inhabited this place many thousands of years ago, and in the quiet...

  • Grand View Trail

    Excellent views! This is a very easy 1.5 mile out and back hike. The trail is well maintained and in recent years many stone steps have been put in place to make it even easier. The view to the south is much better than on the other side of this peninsula. At the end of the trail is the island in the sky, a large lonely mesa. Hiking out to the end,...

  • White Rim Overlook Trail

    This Trail is only 1.5 miles long and has completely flat terrain. The hike travels out on a finger into the heart of Canyonlands to beautiful views of the White Rim Trail. If you are looking to avoid people, this hike is better than the Grand View Trail.


Canyonlands National Park Hotels

Canyonlands National Park Restaurants

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    Slickrock Cafe: No Restaurants in the Park

    by Basaic Written May 17, 2012

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    There are no options for food inside Canyonlands National Park; but there are plenty of choices in nearby towns. I ate at a very nice upscale place called the Slickrock Cafe in Moab. The food was very good, well presented and the staff was professional and efficient. A bit more expensive than average but worth it.

    Favorite Dish: I had meatloaf which I enjoyed. They serve wine, beer and mixed drinks to include a variety of Margaritas.

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    Slickrock Cafe
    Related to:
    • Food and Dining
    • Wine Tasting
    • National/State Park

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Canyonlands National Park Transportation

  • America the Beautiful Pass

    Canyonlands National Park is located in southeastern Utah, off Route 191. There are two main access points. Route 313 is close to Arches National Park and brings you into the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands. The two parks are about 30 miles apart if this is your area of interest. The Needles District in the south end of the park is also...

  • Plan on long distances

    Distances are long, sightseeing unending. Other cars are few and far between.The Needles section requires a bit of a drive (miles are published somewhere) into the area and it is well worth it. Newspaper Rock (photos in must sees) is along the highway into the Needles section where we camped in Squaw Peak.

  • Maybe it's by air that you can...

    Maybe it's by air that you can view this huge National Park best, but the car is still the best way to come at it's gates.The Canyonlands National Park itself can be best discovered by days long hikes (maybe even weeks). The rivers can be done by wildwaterrafting and there are also mountainbike-trails and even off-the-road tracks.


Canyonlands National Park Shopping

  • Karnubawax's Profile Photo

    Needles Outpost: Only store for miles (Needles)

    by Karnubawax Written Feb 1, 2006

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The Needles Outpost is the only store in the Needles area, and is in fact the only store within 40 miles. It's your basic corner market in the middle of nowhere. Food and drink, batteries and film, and, perhaps most importantly, gasoline. They also have a small lunch counter which serves up soup and sandwiches. The Needles Outpost is also a campground (which I've reviewed here). The place is run by a couple, so if there's a lot going on you may just have to wait your turn.

    When I was there, they were open 7 days a week, 9-5. They close at 5 o'clock SHARP. So if you need to get here I'd call first to make sure someone will be there. I'll try and find their #.

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Canyonlands National Park Local Customs

  • Hug a Ranger

    Just kidding but gotta put in a plug here for the men and women of the NPS. We've come into contact with a lot of rangers in the national parks and they're the best resources you can find for what/where/how to have a good time. These folks are the caretakers of our most valuable natural treasures and the multitudes who come to enjoy them. When you...

  • Preserve and Protect

    Our poor national parks and other historic sites suffer a lot of abuse. It's not just the millions of feet that wear down the trails but the yahoos who think they need to leave their mark everywhere they go or take pieces of ancient history or geology home with them. It's our bright lights that dim the stars, and footprints that wipe out decades of...

  • Open Range Grazing

    Be cautious when going at that fast rate of speed down the highway. There are cattle grazing alongside the roads. No fences to stop them and it is legal and allowed in this area of the west. I had an antelope deer stop right in the middle of the highway when I was traveling about 70 MPH, and it just looked at me when I was approaching fast. My only...


Canyonlands National Park Warnings and Dangers

  • Water Hazards

    You know the only 8 inches of precip I mentioned in that previous warning? On our 2011 trip, I think they got about half of that in just 4 days. Felt like it, anyway. A downpour that's no big deal anywhere else can be a very big deal in Southern Utah; all that rock leaves water nowhere to go but DOWN. In a hurry. Into any and every space it can...

  • Obey Warning Signs

    As always, you should obey all warning signs. They are there for your safety and to protect the park, its wildlife, and its plants. It is easy to get dehydrated at this park, so drink lots of water. Also keep in mind that some of these trails are narrow and have steep drop-offs. There are little to no facilities in the park so bring your own and...

  • No barriers

    No doubt about it, Canyonlands is one beautiful but dangerous place and even very experienced hikers can get into big trouble here. It was near the Horseshoe unit that one now-famous individual had to hack off an arm with a pocktknife after 6 days under a rock, and another broke a leg and crawled for 4 days until being spotted: not my idea of a...


Canyonlands National Park What to Pack

  • Pavlik_NL's Profile Photo

    Packing List

    by Pavlik_NL Written Oct 15, 2002

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: The best hikingshoes you have and all kind of very good backpack-equipment is necessary to survive these wide and rough Canyonlands.

    Miscellaneous: For the real hikers one needs to take more then enough water and food. Hiking here can easily take weeks.

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Canyonlands National Park Off The Beaten Path

  • Dead Horse Point State Park

    Situated 2000 feet above the Colorado River, the legend goes that cowboys once rounded up wild mustangs and herded them onto what is now called Dead Horse Point Overlook. After choosing the horses they wanted to keep, they somehow forgot about the rest and, trapped on that waterless point far above the river, the poor things died of thirst. Sad as...

  • Murphy Trail - Perfect Solitude...

    I did this as a solo overnight backpack trip. I was amazing sunset views as I left late in the afternoon and hiked down into the canyon. The trail drops down into an interesting canyon and seems to go forever. Follow this to the White Rim road. Continue over the road for a while to find a suitable campsite. I loved my campsite, beyond the white...

  • Newspaper Rock

    In 1961 Newspaper Rock, one of the largest and best-known petroglyph panels in Utah, was designated a state park. It is located about 12 miles west of U.S. Highway 191 on the paved road that leads to the Needles district of Canyonlands National Park, where you will see a sign for Newspaper Rock. This little area is well worth the stop if you are...


Canyonlands National Park Sports & Outdoors

  • Whale Rock Trail

    The Whale Rock Trail is moderate 1 mile long with a 100 foot elevation gain. The trail begins as a sandy trail then continues over slick rock with some hand holds on the steeper parts. Good walking shoes, water, sunscreen, a hat, insect repellant, a snack, weather appropriate clothing, don't forget your camera!

  • Upheaval Dome Trails

    These trails lead to two different overlooks. The first overlook is a .8 mile long hike with a 100 foot elevation gain. The second is 1.8 miles with a 150 foot elevation gain. The trail is steep and difficult at times. Good walking shoes, water, sunscreen, a hat, insect repellant, a snack, weather appropriate clothing, don't forget your camera!

  • Murphy Trail

    Murphy Trail is a relatively easy, relatively flat 1.8 mile hike to a nice overlook. Good walking shoes, water, sunscreen, a hat, insect repellant, a snack, weather appropriate clothing, don't forget your camera!


Canyonlands National Park Favorites

  • clean that windshield and fill gas tank

    You can see canyonland in about 3 hours but it's just breath taking scenery ... everywhere you look its just drop dead gorgeous so I just started taking pictures as we drove by so we didn't stop everywhere. we were there during a windstorm .. being in the dessert during a wind storm was less than comfortable to be out of the car. The wind was cold....

  • worth seeing!!

    We didn't know anything about canyonland but had some extra time after arches and glad we checked it out. The views are amazing and not much hiking to see such a scenic wonder. I'd say we spent about 3 hours there and even the scenery getting there was amazing so stop and take some pics. Great place to use the panoramic setting in the camera and...

  • some dreams must wait for another day

    After much debate, we decided that Arches should be our priority. Each day got hotter and June was close on the horizon, promising the heat of summer. As much as we had enjoyed the desert, it was time to head to the coast and enjoy the relief of ocean breezes. In the early evening, after it had cooled down somewhat and the sun began its descent...


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Comments (2)

  • goodfish's Profile Photo
    Mar 14, 2015 at 6:47 AM

    Deal alert! In honor of the NPS' upcoming 100th birthday, the "Every Kid in a Park" program will make every American 4th grader eligible for a FREE ANNUAL PARK PASS for themselves and their families. The pass will allow free access to every national park, monument, forest, seashore and more from fall of 2015 to fall of 2016. So if you'll have a 4th grader in your family next school year, start planning your trip!

  • goodfish's Profile Photo
    Jan 2, 2015 at 6:02 AM

    Great deal for tight budgets: Martin Luther King Day (January 19, 2015) is a free entry day at all U.S. National Parks!

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