Canyonlands National Park Travel Guide

  • View of arch through tree line
    View of arch through tree line
    by BruceDunning
  • Eroded buttes are plentiful
    Eroded buttes are plentiful
    by BruceDunning
  • Eroded flat surface in water flow area
    Eroded flat surface in water flow area
    by BruceDunning

Canyonlands National Park Highlights

  • Pro
    KimberlyAnn profile photo

    KimberlyAnn says…

     If you love outdoor activities, canyons, and beautiful rock formations this is the park for you. 

  • Con
    johngayton profile photo

    johngayton says…

     Much is only accessible by 4x4 

  • In a nutshell
    goodfish profile photo

    goodfish says…

     Pick a canyon, any canyon, and it'll be amazing 

Canyonlands National Park Things to Do

  • Island in the Sky: Good stuff to know

    The Island in the Sky unit of Canyonlands NP is 32 miles from Moab and the park has another 20 miles of paved scenic road. Figure on driving 40 miles within the park as the road doesn't loop; you'll double back on all branches. Park entry fees are $10 per vehicle, $5 per motorcycle or bicycle, or use your annual NPS park pass if you have one. Entry...

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  • Island in the Sky: White Rim Overlook...

    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...

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  • 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 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...

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  • Island in the Sky: Mesa Arch Trail

    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...

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  • Island in the Sky: Scenic drive and...

    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...

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  • 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). 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...

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  • Island in the Sky: Aztec Butte trail

    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...

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  • Island in the Sky: Grand View Point...

    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...

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  • Needles: Tse' Hane - the rock that tells...

    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...

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Canyonlands National Park Hotels

Canyonlands National Park Restaurants

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    Slickrock Cafe

    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.

    Read more: http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/p/m/1ff4c8/#ixzz1v9znlbPw

    Related to:
    • Wine Tasting
    • Food and Dining
    • 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...

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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Canyonlands National Park Shopping

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    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...

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  • 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...

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  • 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...

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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...

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  • 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...

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  • 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...

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Canyonlands National Park What to Pack

  • Pavlik_NL's Profile Photo

    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

  • 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...

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  • 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...

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  • 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...

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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!

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  • 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!

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  • 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!

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Canyonlands National Park Favorites

  • 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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  • the perfect antidote

    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...

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  • only so much we could fit in

    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...

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Explore Deeper into Canyonlands National Park
Needles: Good stuff to know
Things to Do
Horseshoe Canyon: the hike
Things to Do
Needles: Chesler Park/Joint Trail Overview
Things to Do
Horseshoe Canyon Overview
Things to Do
Horseshoe Canyon: the pictographs
Things to Do
Needles: Chesler Park
Things to Do
Grand View Trail
Things to Do
Buck Canyon Overlook
Things to Do
Mesa Arch Trail
Sports & Outdoors
Aztec Butte Trail
Sports & Outdoors
Alcove Springs Trail
Sports & Outdoors
4 Wheeling and Shafer Trail
Sports & Outdoors
Mesa Arch
Things to Do
The Neck
Things to Do
Buck Canyon Overlook
Things to Do
Grand View Point Overlook
Things to Do
Orange Cliffs
Things to Do
Green River Overlook
Things to Do
Holeman Spring Canyon
Things to Do
Upheaval Dome
Things to Do
Whale Rock
Things to Do
Scenic Drive
Things to Do
Alcove Springs
Things to Do
Aztec Butte
Things to Do
Shafer Canyon Overlook
Things to Do
Hiking Trails
Things to Do
Wildlife
Things to Do
Monitor and Merrimac
Things to Do
Visitors Center Displays
Things to Do
Island in the Sky Visitors Center
Things to Do
No Roving Rovers
Warnings and Dangers
Cairns and cryptobiotic crust
Warnings and Dangers
Needles: Eye Candy
Things to Do
Hot and Dry
Warnings and Dangers
The White Rim Trail For a Great Adventure
Things to Do
Hydrate Before You Arrive
Warnings and Dangers
Water, Water, Water
Warnings and Dangers
View the Canyons
Things to Do
The Needles
Things to Do
Driving on the Back Country Roads
Things to Do
Map of Canyonlands National Park

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