If you love outdoor activities, canyons, and beautiful rock formations this is the park for you.
Much is only accessible by 4x4
Pick a canyon, any canyon, and it'll be amazing
This is another easy two-miler that weirdly doesn't show up on the park website. The trailhead starts at the White Rim Overlook and picnic area parking lot and meanders along slickrock (follow the cairns) to a point as drop-dead gorgeous as Grand View's. Stretching 1,200 feet below is another perspective of Monument Basin and White Rim Plateau. At...more
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 Road - built in the early 1900's as a horse trail and then used to move uranium ore - that winds down into the canyon to connect with 100-mile White Rim Road. You need a high-clearance 4X4 to travel both of...more
A one mile RT hike to leads to a 50-foot span of rock that is probably the most photographed spot in the park. A graceful opening perfectly frames the La Sal Mountains, several dramatic towers and an interesting arch below. Look closely at the three formations just left of center in my second photo: the tall thin formation on the right is Monster...more
Island in the Sky really needs to be explored from the trails or unpaved bike/4X4 roads to get the full effect but if you have mobility issues or are pressed for time, you can get a taste from the pullovers and a few overlooks along the 20 miles of paved scenic road. Buck Canyon, Green River and Grand View overlooks are all accessible to...more
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). At the end of a jeep road spur on the south side of Chesler park, you transition from wide open space with towering rock formations down into a section of...more
This was a hoot as it's up the sides of two slickrock buttes to the ruins of some ancient grainaries and one heck of a view. It's bigger than it looks here - the picture was from some distance away - and the backside is nearly a sheer drop straight into the canyon. It's about a 2-mile trek RT from the parking lot to the top of the butte, with a 225...more
This is a fun one with drop-dead fabulous panoramas. The trailhead for the 2-mile RT hike is at the southernmost end of the scenic drive, and the trail follows the mesa edge all the way to a narrow point. From there you can see for miles and miles in every direction: the far-away La Sal mountains to the east, Monument Basin way down below, Junction...more
This isn't inside the park but along the road in so you can't miss it: look for the "Newspaper Rock" sign. Close to the parking lot is a large section of flat rock with 2,000 years of petroglyphs etched into its desert-varnished surface. Petroglyphs are found all over the Southwest but it's unusual to find a collection this large in such an easily...more
This unit of Canyonlands is more remote than Island in the Sky: 75 miles from Moab and about 50 from Monticello. Hikes here are either very short or very long with just one 2.5 and another 6-miler in between. That said, if you're wanting to do more than one day of exploring, you'll need to camp or plan on putting in some road time. The way in is...more
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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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...more
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.more
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.more
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 #.
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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.
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...more
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...more
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...more
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!more
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!more
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...more
Returning with that special person, my new wife, was a chance for redemption and we had been conquering such proclamations for a few weeks now including a very similar one at Grand Canyon where we indeed camped for two nights near the mighty Colorado. We knew we had the tools to do just that again here at Canyonlands. All our gear sat in the car...more
Normally, I would have been feeling a little lazy but after so many weeks in the desert, I was just doing what all intelligent warm-blooded creatures do at midday; I was having a siesta. When we arrived in the southwest in April, temperatures were more forgiving and you could sometimes plan activities for times outside the morning hours. It was...more