Your Guide To The Canyonlands National Park

mesa arch Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park: General Summary

Located in south eastern Utah near the town of Moab, Canyonlands is an American national park. The 337,598 acres of fascinating and seemingly unending wilderness of beautiful canyons and rugged terrains makes Canyonlands the largest national park in Utah. The park has a unique, colorful landscape that was eroded by the Colorado and Green rivers into a number of canyons, mesas, buttes, spires, arches. On 12 September, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed the legislation to designate the Canyonlands as a national park.

The park has 4 separate districts; the Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze and the combined Green and Colorado rivers. The two large canyons on the Colorado Plateau were formed by the erosion of these rivers. All 4 districts of the park have seemingly same characteristics of primitive desert atmosphere but each one has its distinct attributes. Many visitors describe this place as a magical place on earth which has no comparison with any other place.

Canyonlands is a famous tourist destination that attracts 440,039 visitors every year. The park had a record 776,218 visitors in the year 2016. It offers various recreational activities for visitors including hiking, four-wheeling, mountain biking, sight-seeing, and photographing, etc. With so much to offer, it is not surprising that the park attracts so many visitors each year. People enjoy hiking on the rugged and remote trails in the park and fascinating views from the overlooks. Moreover, it has plenty of wildlife to watch including various mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians.

There are four visitor centers in the park to guide the visitors on their trip to the Canyonlands National Park. The Island in the Sky Visitor Center, the Needles Visitor Center, Hans Flat Ranger Station and Canyonlands Backcountry Office offer maps, guide books, exhibits, and many more things to visitors to make their trip worthwhile.

Despite its vast and unique landscape, Canyonlands National Park is often missed out by most because of Arches National Park’s close proximity to the city and easy accessibility. The unique formations and remnants from the history are not getting their due share of popularity due to the same reasons. If you are a person who like adventurous trips to explore and learn and have some experience in hiking and backpacking in deserts, this gorgeous destination should be definitely on your bucket-list. The spellbinding landscapes, challenging trails, and recreational activities are some of the most interesting things that the Canyonlands Park has to offer. The best times to visit the Canyonlands are spring and fall when the temperature ranges between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit and the nights are cool.


Introduction

National parks are a source of education, enjoyment, and inspiration for adults and children alike. The Nation Park Service (NPS) agency was designed over a hundred years ago to preserve the natural and historic beauty of the earth. Over last the century, NPS has managed to provide protection to wildlife and enjoyment for all the past and current generations. Now, America’s 61 national parks attract over 300 million visitors every year because of their mesmerizing landscapes and unique formations.

Canyonlands National Park is among the natural wonders that have rich history and vast areas of scenic beauty to explore. It was established in September, 1964 and has contributed immensely to making Utah America’s most adventurous state. It has a vast rugged landscape of buttes, spires, arches, mesas and other natural formations. The Green and Colorado Rivers shaped the unique features and formations of this desert region. Divided into four districts, Canyonlands offers fascinating overlooks, rich wildlife, and various trails for hiking.

You can find a great variety of mammals, 273 species of birds, reptiles, and six species of amphibians. With such variety of wildlife in the park, it offers a wonderful opportunity to observe and enjoy wildlife on your trip to the Canyonlands National Park. You can also do photography of the wildlife by keeping a safe distance from it. Apart from fauna, the park also has a vast variety of plant life as well. Different species of moss, cactus, wild flowers, trees, shrubs and grasses add to the natural beauty of the park.

Since Canyonlands is part of the Colorado Plateau which is a desert region, Canyonlands experiences excessive temperature fluctuations. Sometimes, the temperature fluctuates to 40 degrees in a single day. The best times of the year to visit Caryonlands are the spring and fall when temperature stays between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit and the nights become cool. Summers and winters in this region can be especially harsh as the temperature can go to as high as 100 degrees Fahrenheit to as low as freezing point, respectively.

With four visitor centers, the various recreational activities and vast mesmerizing landscapes offer so much to learn about the geological and paleontological history of the earth. If you do not have this destination in your vacation plans so far, this guide will give you all the reasons to plan a trip to Canyonlands National Park for your next vacation.


A Brief History

The history of the Caryonlands National Park dates back 320 million years to the Pennsylvanian geologic period. The Canyonlands region was merely a basin back then with the Uncompahgre Uplift mountain range on its northeast side. The ocean flowing adjacent to the basin flooded it over and over again. Evaporation would follow the flooding which would lead to the accumulation of salts. On top of that, the erosion of the Uncompahgre Uplift added layers of dark shale to the region which is now what is known as Canyonlands. Over the period of next 10 million years, layers of limestone, sandstone, and shale kept on depositing in the area. After 10 million years, these layers started to get stable and create formations. The erosion by the Green and Colorado Rivers stripped away vast amount of these rocky layers leaving behind spectacular buttes, spires, fins, and cliffs.

As we move forward from the geological history of the land, we find that no army ever marched in the area of Canyonlands but this region was used for hunting game and growing crops since ancient times. Many ancient cultures and tribes resided there for a long but a 20 year long drought in the 13th Century, forced these ancient cultures to leave the region of Canyonlands. After that, it took several hundred years until explorers from around the world reached this region to mark it on their maps. In the 1880s, the growing business of cattle ranching in southeastern Utah, limited this land to cattle grazing.

It took another 5 or so decades until Bates Wilson, the superintendent of the Arches National Monument, started exploring the area to the south and west of Moab town of Utah. After coming across the Needles District, he started making efforts for the establishment of a new national park in this region. In 1961, the Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall flew over this area where the two rivers meet and he couldn’t help promoting Wilson’s proposal for the establishment of a new national park.

Finally, after 3 years of long debates, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the legislation to establish this region as Canyonlands National Park. Bates Wilson became the first superintendent of this park and due to his efforts commonly referred as the father of Canyonlands.


Travel Itinerary to the Park

There’s something about the unique formations and sturdy buttes of the Canyon National Park that makes it look raw and unrefined. While it might not be as popular as other national parks of USA, the Canyonlands National Park has all the reasons to make your trip exciting and adventurous. You can take the Highway 191 and drive 10 miles north to the Highway 313 and then drive on southwest. It will take you approximately 40 minutes from the Moab town before the majestic spires and towering buttes appear in front of you on your way to the visitor center. This travel itinerary to the Canyonlands National Parks will provide you with some essential tips to make you have a worthwhile experience.


How Long to Spend in Canyonlands

Canyonlands National Park has some spectacular views and hiking trails to offer. You can spend from a couple of hours to 4-5 days in the park with many exciting options to look forward to. You can plan to spend some hours in the park and drive around while hopping out to take short hikes or to enjoy the overlooks. You can even visit Arches and Canyonlands parks in the same day. You can also take an overnight trip to the Canyonlands to take part in a number of recreational activities at the park. Either way, you’ll have a memorable and exhilarating experience.


Best Time to Visit Canyonlands

Although you can visit Canyonlands any time of the year, you should bear in mind that the park faces harsh temperatures in both summers and winters. The temperature can go to a 100 degrees Fahrenheit in summers while it can drop down to 0 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit in winters. You can also expect thunderstorms in late summers and early fall. This makes spring and fall the best times of the year to plan your trip. April/May and September/October are the most suitable months to visit the park. During these months, the minimum and maximum temperature range stays between 30 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.


Entry Fees and Permits

The entrance fee to the Canyonlands National Park is $30 per private, non commercial vehicle with 15 passengers’ capacity or less, $25 per private, non commercial motorbike and $15 per person on foot or bicycle. This pass allows you free entry and exit into and out of the park for 7 days. You can also purchase an annual Southeast Utah Pass at $55 that has a one year validity to visit the Canyonlands and Arches National Parks as well as Natural Bridges and Hovenweep national monuments. It allows one private, non commercial vehicle or the pass holder and three persons when fee is charged per person. Entry is free for people of 16 years and younger .


Sights and Overlooks in Canyonlands

Canyonlands National Park has a lot of overviews and scenic places for sightseeing. Whether you are on foot or on a vehicle, you can take a quick stop at these overlooks and sights to enjoy and admire the overwhelming natural landscapes of the park. Green River Overlook, Mesa Arch, Grand View Point Overlook, Aztec Butte, etc all provide the visitors with a naturally framed scenic view of Canyonlands.


Take a Scenic Drive through Canyonlands

You have the vast area of Canyonlands to drive through on your trip to Canyonlands National Park. You can take a 6.5 miles scenic drive along the needles and hop out for short hikes if you like. You can drive to the Roadside Ruin to see the ancient Puebloan granary or Pothole Point Trail to watch the temporary ponds with micro life. You can also drive to the Cave Spring Trail to see the old school cowboy camp beside an alcove spring and ancient pictographs. If that not enough, you can also drive to the Slickrock Foot Trail to watch and photograph bighorn sheep in the Needles. From mesmerizing views of buttes and towering spires to wildlife, you have so much to explore on a scenic drive in Canyonlands National Park.


Hiking in Canyonlands National Park

There are several short and moderate trails with hardly any elevation for all kinds of hikers to explore the place on foot. There are some strenuous trails as well for hikers that want a challenging hiking trip; like Gooseberry Trail. If you are planning to hike in the Island in the Sky, you can take a half mile hike to the mysterious Upheaval Dome. You can also explore the Aztec Butte to find many 800 year old ancestral Puebloan granaries. You can also choose to hike through the Needles District on Elephant Hill Trail or take a 10 mile trip on the Confluence Overlook Trail. If you hike across Big Spring and Elephant Canyons, you can see the 100 foot ravine where the Green and Colorado rivers meet.

However, while hiking, it is absolutely imperative to take necessary precaution and carry the right gear. There are several short and fairly easy trails but the ones that go down into the canyons are ancient and rugged. You cannot find water below the rim so it is important to take sufficient water with you if you are to hike on those trails.


Cataract Canyon Rafting

If you are an adventurous person and are looking for a more thrilling activity in the park, you can go for white water rafting at Cataract Canyon. It is a 46 mile long canyon within Canyonlands National Park and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in South Utah. Many commercial white rafting companies offer guided trips through the Cataract Canyon. They use motorized as well as non motorized vehicles to take you on a whitewater rafting trip. If you are planning it privately, you are to get a permit from the National Park Service before going for Cataract Canyon Rafting.


Mountain Biking in Canyonlands

Canyonlands is well known for its mountain biking terrain as it is one of the best mountain biking destinations in the USA. The 100 mile White Rim Road at the Island in the Sky is an ideal destination for mountain biking as it circles around the Mesa. You can take a multi day mountain biking trip in this area. You are even allowed to bike on all public roads in the park. The Maze District also has some multi day biking trips to offer. However, due to the difficult terrain, it is difficult for support vehicles to tag along on the trip.


Star Gazing in Canyonlands

With some of the darkest night skies in North America, Canyonlands is a famous destination for star gazers. Due to the region’s high altitude and distance from large cities, the night skies are exceptionally darker. Canyonlands is officially an International Dark Sky Park and one of the best places to gaze at the Milky Way in the USA. Various star gazing events are organized in Canyonlands National Park to provide the visitors with a serene and mind blowing experience.


Wildlife in Canyonlands

Canyonlands is also self-sufficient with plenty of wildlife including different mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. You can find the native herds of desert bighorn sheep near rivers and streams. 273 species of birds can also be found in the park and you should not miss the famous songster in the park; canyon wrens in steep walled canyons, gray and black warblers in the pinon-juniper woodlands, and meadowlarks in the grasslands. You might also come across six different species of amphibians in the park.


Photography

At the Canyonlands National Park, you can also find wonderful scenic views and wildlife for photography. The sun casts beautiful hues of orange on the underside of Mesa Arch. From buttes to Druid Arch, there are a lot of fascinating landscapes to capture in your camera. You can also take pictures of the wildlife you come across in the park but remember to keep a safe distance while snapping photos.

With so many exciting things to offer, Canyonlands National Park is easily one of the best destinations for hikers and adventure lovers. There are various recreational activities to take part in and you can find a wonderful opportunity to gaze at the Milky Way if you are planning an overnight trip.


Top Attractions at Canyonlands National Park

With 58 national parks and 419 national park sites in the USA, one of the most popular types of holidays in the US is visiting national parks. Canyonlands National Park is also one of these beautiful national parks. It offers majestic landscapes as well as various recreational activities to on enjoy on your visit. The scenic beauty in this part of Utah is especially mesmerizing with arches, canyons, buttes, and spires surrounding the park on all sides. It has so much to offer to visitors of all ages, making it one of the best parks for a family vacation.

Canyonlands National Park has what’s seemingly last part of undisturbed region of the Colorado Plateau. The plateau is a geological province that covers a large part of the Colorado River and its tributaries. A landscape formed by the sedimentary rock deposits, the park has incredible natural features of a desert environment. If you do not have much time on your hands to plan an overnight stay at Canyonlands Park, you can simply take a drive through the park, stopping at popular sites, and enjoying the serene natural sights. However, there are plenty of outdoor recreational activities for longer trips, especially for someone who takes great joy and interest in adventure.

We have compiled some of the top attractions at Canyonlands National Park for you to plan a perfect trip with your family or friends.


The Four Visitor Centers

Canyonlands National Park is open for visitors all through the year, 24 hours a day. For the convenience of the visitors, the park has four visitor centers in all four districts of the park. The operating hours of the visitor centers sometimes varies with the seasons but in normal weather, you can find the visitor centers open and functioning. Following are the four visitor centers of the Canyonlands National Park:



Island in the Sky Visitor Center

Island in the Sky Visitor Centers have maps, books, exhibits, information, backcountry permits, park rangers. and restroom facilities. You should make a stop at this visitor center if you are in this district of the park. The visitor center also features a 15 minute orientation video “Wilderness of Rock” if you make a request at the visitor center.

The Island in the Sky Visitor Center is open daily from early March to 25th December. In the remaining months, the visitor center is closed on Wednesday and Thursday. The operating hours of the center might vary depending on the season.



The Needles Visitor Center

The visitor center of the Needles district offers maps, books, information, exhibits, backcountry permits, park rangers, picnic area, and restroom facilities. Water is also available at this visitor center throughout the year. Needles Visitor Center also features the 15 minute orientation movie “Wilderness of Rock” if you make a request. It is open from spring through fall. IF you visit the park in winters and find Needles visitor Center closed, you cam self-register for backcountry permits at the entrance of the visitor center.



Hans Flat Ranger Station

The Hans Flat Ranger Station is the visitor Center in the Maze district of the Canyonlands National Park. This distant visitor center is open every day all through the year. The visitor center offers books, maps and information about the Maze district of the park. However, there are no facilities of food, gas, or water sources in the Maze district except a pit toilet.



Canyonlands Backcountry Office

The Backcountry Office is situated at park administrative offices in the south of Moab. The park rangers at this office can help you with some information about travelling backcountry and can issue backcountry permits.


The Island in the Sky District

The Island in the Sky District of the Canyonlands National Park is the most visited part of the park. It is closest to access from Moab and has picturesque overlooks and a range of different trails. It offers opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, ATV excursions, and horseback riding. You can get a stunning view from the 1000 ft high mesa of the Island in the Sky district. It also offers more adventurous options to the visitors like rock climbing and camping at Willow Flat Campground. Sometimes, there are chances of flash flooding due to summer rains, therefore, you should plan your trip considering the weather in the area. You can get all the information about activities and overlooks at the Island in the Sky district from its visitor center.


The Maze District

The Maze district of the Canyonlands National Park has some of the most difficult trails and terrains in the park. Due to these rugged terrains, this is the least visited part of the Canyonlands National Park. The Maze Overlook trail of this district somehow managed to get its share of popularity. You might need a rope in this area to lower your packs over difficult areas of descent. The Maze Overlook Trail has primitive 6 miles round trip that takes about 3-4 hours to cover. Once you manage to reach the Horse Canyon, you can get an astounding view of the Harvest Scene which has various prehistoric pictographs. There are many other different trails in this district but since this the remotest area of the park, you cannot find facilities of gas, water or food and supplies in this area. You will have to carry these supplies as well as all the necessary gear to hike in this area. It takes from 3 days to a week to explore this area of difficult terrains.


Grand View Point

The Grand View Point is an overlook at an altitude of 6282 ft above the sea level. It is in the southernmost region along the Island in the Sky drive. You can watch the distant mountains, basins, White Rim Road and canyons from this view point. The scenic road to the Grand View Point is a 19 mile long, asphalted road and has fascinating views all the way.

As the name suggests, it has endless spectacular views along the way. Panels at the Grand View Point give you an opportunity to watch the geological formations that make up the Canyonlands completely. You can observe the 1000 foot trench carved by the Colorado River into the earth. The next layer that will come into your way is the White Rim and a 1000 ft above that you can find the top of the mesa to get a grand overlook over all the stunning landscape. After that, you can take the trail towards the southwest to find the beautiful views to the east across Monument Basin toward the La Sal Mountains.


Rivers in the Canyonlands

For adventurers, there are opportunities of rafting, canoeing, and kayaking in the calm water upstream from where the Green and Colorado Rivers combine. On the other hand, for thrill seekers, just down the confluence, the water rapids rush into the Cataract Canyon making it a very tempting route for whitewater rafters. The highest water flows are in summers due to the melting of snow and heavy rainstorms. Cataract Canyons has 14 miles of rapids that range from I to Class V categories of difficulty. You are required to get permits for whitewater rafting here. Some guided trips organizers arrange group trips for whitewater as well as calm water expeditions.


Green River Overlook

Just ahead of the Willows Campground in the Island in the Sky District is the Green River Overlook. It is at an elevation of 6000 ft and provides a mesmerizing view of the entire district. The Green River that formed this beautiful landscape and the White Rim Trail can be easily seen from this overlook. The ease of access and the spectacular scenic view makes it one of the top attractions to visit during your visit to Canyonlands National Park. For best views which are ideal for photography as well, visit this overlook at sunrise or sunset when the undulating formations and buttes cause the sunlight to reach the canyon in streaks. A parking lot at the Green River Overlook is also available for the convenience of the visitors.


White Rim Trail

The White Rim Trail is a narrow primitive trail along the edge of the Green River bench for 100 miles, just about halfway down the canyons. The four wheel drive to this trail provides a close up of the beautiful arches, ancient ruins, granaries, spires, and buttes. You can find more beautiful scenic views of the Island in the Sky over this two days long trail. This 71.2 mile long unpaved 4 wheel drive will offer beautiful views along the way.

There are countless beautiful attractions to visit on your trip to Canyonlands. However, it is important to get some information, ideally from the visitor center, before pursuing a trail or visiting an overlook. Most of the parts of the park do not have all the facilities and have difficult terrains. We recommend you to carry appropriate gear with you and go with a partner for your ease and safety.



Best Hikes in Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park is just an hour away from the Arches National Park and it is as beautiful as the Arches. Despite being so near the Arches National Park, Canyonlands yet has a very different and beautiful scenic landscape. One of the best things to do in Canyonlands National Park is hiking. The park has various different trails for all types of hikers and you can easily find many easy to difficult trails to have a worthwhile hiking experience.

We have compiled a list of some of the best hiking trails in Canyonlands National Park for your trip. Read on to choose the best ones for your itinerary to Canyonlands National Park.


The Needles

There is a collection of 20 mile trails that cross through the Needles district. The Needles district gets its name from the Cedar Mesa sandstone needles that rise up high towards the sky. Hiking on these trails offers a number of wonderful destinations to reach like the Druid Arch. The formations that will come across your path on the Joint Trail will be a splendid experience for you. Another great thing about hiking in the Needles is that you will find a few people here on these trails which will make your trip an even more peaceful experience.


False Kiva Trail

The False Kiva Trail is 1.9 mile moderately trafficked trail that takes you to Class II archaeological site in the Island in the Sky district. The False Kiva is a manmade stone circle in a cave in a remote area of Canyonlands. The origin of this alcove is unknown but it offers spectacular views from this point. It is estimated that the large ring of stone rocks were put in place here about 600 years ago. It is not an actual Kiva but an archeological site. Unfortunately, due to the damage done to the site by tourists, the NPS closed the False Kiva in 2018. However, you will be able to hike on the trail and view this archeological site from a distance. This ancient remnants of a sacred and a ceremonial site held value for the Native Americans, therefore, you should refrain from going ahead of the sign that blocks entry from thereon.


Mesa Arch

The trail to the Mesa Arch is a 0.6 mile heavily trafficked trail that has beautiful wild flowers along the way. Since the trail is perfect for beginners, children, and families, it is one of the most visited trails in Canyonlands National Park. It is also one of the most unique vistas of the park for sightseeing. It is situated along the main park road in the Island in the Sky district. You can find spectacular views of sunrise and sunset from the Mesa Arch and these views are often found in many photo galleries around the world as well. You should expect to see a lot of people with cameras early in the morning especially if the morning is partly cloudy.


Aztec Butte

Aztec Butte Trail is a 1.7 mile long heavily trafficked trail that crosses grasslands and then reaches a steep slope to a dome shaped butte that is above the mesa. It is in the Island in the Sky district and very easy to access. You can find some of the most wonderful views of the ancient granary and the river cut formations. You can also watch the snowcapped peaks of the La Sal Mountains in the distance. The hike to the Aztec Butte offers a wonderful opportunity to explore the desert regions of the Southwest.


Murphy Trail

The Murphy Trail is a long 10.1 mile lightly trafficked loop trail which allows easy access. You can find mesmerizing views of eroded sandstone and the trail can take you to many beautiful overlooks. The Murphy Trail also allows you to adjust your routes to many overlooks on the way which makes it a off the radar hike. To watch the spectacular view of the sunlight sparkling on the water of the Green River, hike on the trail around sunset or sunrise.


Upheaval Dome

The Crater View Trail that takes you to the Upheaval Dome is a 1.5 mile moderately trafficked trail. Upheaval Dome is basically an impact structure of the ground. It has eroded remains of an impact crater in Canyonlands National Park. Geologists and scientists believe this crater is 170 million years old. You can clearly see the crater as brown and black rings on the surface of the ground. The origin of this crater is, however, unknown. Some suggest it could have been caused by a meteor strike while others believe that it could be an extruding salt dome. The wonderful canyon views surrounding the trail and area of the Upheaval Dome make it a fun hiking trail for the visitors of Canyonlands National Park.


Salt Creek Canyon

The Salt Creek Canyon Trail is a 30 mile long trail in the Needles district of the park. The trail has some of the most well-known and well preserved works of native rock art along the way. You will also find the beautiful Angel Arch on this trail. For adventure lovers, this hike offers an amazing experience for backpacking on the rugged trails and through stunning scenic views of the park.


Horseshoe Canyon and the Grand Gallery

The 8 mile trail to the Horseshoe Canyon and the Grand Valley has one of the best collections of the ancient rock art in the world. You cannot access this trail from any of the three districts of the park and you will have to come from the San Rafael Swell region. You can find fascinating desert landscapes and fossilized prints of dinosaurs. It is one of the best archeological sites in the world to explore on your visit to Canyonlands National Park.

Canyonlands National Park has some of the best trails for hiking. Regardless of your age, you can find a hiking trail that suits your preferences. However, most of the trails and famous sites in the park do not have facilities of gas, water or food and most places have pit toilets. You must carry sufficient supplies and adequate gear with you if you are planning a hiking trip in the park.


Accommodation Options

From astounding scenic landscapes to various different trails, Canyonlands National Park has a lot to offer . If you are planning for an overnight stay at the park and many hiking and exploration trips, it is very likely that you will find yourself exhausted by the end of the day. It is, therefore, important to have your options for lodging in front of you when you’re planning your itinerary to Canyonlands National Park. There are various comfortable hotels and lodgings that are at a short drive to any of the districts of the park. There are campgrounds but no hotels, lodging or shopping stores inside the park. We have picked the best accommodation options that are closest to the park for you on your trip to Canyonlands National Park.


Big Horn Lodge

Located in downtown Moab, just minutes away from the Canyonlands National Park, Big Horn Lodge is one of the best lodging accommodation options offered by the Moab town. The rooms are clean and smoke-free and they allow taking your mountain bike to your room. The service is great and they also offer pet-friendly rooms if you make a request. It is located near restaurants so you can have your breakfast or meals easily by stepping out of the lodge. Since the lodge is merely minutes away from the park, you can take a break from strenuous activities of the park and get some rest in the well-provided room of the Big Horn Lodge.


Best Western Plus Canyonlands Inn

Located in the heart of the downtown Moab, the Best Western Plus Canyonlands Inn is a short drive away to Canyonlands National Park. The Inn is also at a walking distance to many local restaurants and souvenir shops. The Inn offers 80 spacious non smoking guest rooms and complimentary breakfast buffet. It also has a seasonal pool, a 24 hour fitness center, a guest laundry, internet access, safe bicycle storage, jaccuzi and a children’s playground. So, if you are planning a family trip to Canyonlands National Park, this should be your top choice for accommodation.


Camping Sites

Canyonlands National Park has basically two camping sites, one at the Needles and another one at Island in the Sky. Individual camping sites at Island in the Sky can be taken on the basis of first come, first served while the individual and group camping sites at the Needles can be reserved beforehand.

The Island in the Sky Campground has 10 sites and its open year round but it does not have water facility. On the other hand, the Needles Campground has 26 individual sites and 3 group sites. It also has toilets, picnic tables, and fire rings at the campground.


Safety Tips for your Trip

A trip to Canyonlands National Park is fun and full of promising adventure. There are a few possible hazards that you should be mindful of on your trip to the park.


Dehydration

Since Canyonlands is a desert region, it is important that you are adequately hydrated on your trip. There are very limited water filling stations in the park. You will find no drinking water at the Island in the Sky campground or anywhere in the Maze district.


Wildlife

Keep a safe distance from the wildlife of the park or observe them from your car. The animals can sometimes be aggressive to your presence or they might also carry diseases. Moreover, some animals risk your safety as well like rattle snakes or black bears, so it is best to keep your safety as a priority.


Lightning and Flash Floods

Storms and flash floods in the park can be dangerous and unanticipated. Do not stay out if you are caught in a storm, either return to your vehicle or get indoors. If you are outside, avoid lone trees, edges of the cliff or high ridges. Moreover, we advise you to never try to cross a wash that is flooding.

Regardless of the activity that you’re doing in the park, you should prioritize your safety first and foremost. Avoid climbing steep slopes or rocks that seems loose. It is much easier to climb that up than to descend.


Afterword

Canyonlands National Park is a unique and dramatic landscape in Southeastern Utah. It has beautiful mesa, towering pinnacles, remote canyons and unique formations carved by the Colorado River. It attracts a large number of visitors each year and offers exciting recreational activities to them. Apart from recreational activities, there are so many other things to do at the Canyonlands. From sightseeing at different overlooks to hiking on various trails, the park promises an adventurous and memorable experience for all its visitors.

To plan out your trip effectively, you should make an itinerary for your trip to the Canyonlands. Get the important reservations beforehand and do not forget to stop by the visitor centers of the park to meet with the rangers and get important information. We this comprehensive guide, we hope to make your planning easier and your experience grandeur.

Have a safe trip!

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Your Guide To The Canyonlands National Park

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Your Guide To The Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park: General Summary

Located in south eastern Utah near the town of Moab, Canyonlands is an American national park. The 337,598 acres of fascinating and seemingly unending wilderness of beautiful canyons and rugged terrains makes Canyonlands the largest national park in Utah. The park has a unique, colorful landscape that was eroded by the Colorado and Green rivers into a number of canyons, mesas, buttes, spires, arches. On 12 September, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed the legislation to designate the Canyonlands as a national park.

The park has 4 separate districts; the Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze and the combined Green and Colorado rivers. The two large canyons on the Colorado Plateau were formed by the erosion of these rivers. All 4 districts of the park have seemingly same characteristics of primitive desert atmosphere but each one has its distinct attributes. Many visitors describe this place as a magical place on earth which has no comparison with any other place.

Canyonlands is a famous tourist destination that attracts 440,039 visitors every year. The park had a record 776,218 visitors in the year 2016. It offers various recreational activities for visitors including hiking, four-wheeling, mountain biking, sight-seeing, and photographing, etc. With so much to offer, it is not surprising that the park attracts so many visitors each year. People enjoy hiking on the rugged and remote trails in the park and fascinating views from the overlooks. Moreover, it has plenty of wildlife to watch including various mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians.

There are four visitor centers in the park to guide the visitors on their trip to the Canyonlands National Park. The Island in the Sky Visitor Center, the Needles Visitor Center, Hans Flat Ranger Station and Canyonlands Backcountry Office offer maps, guide books, exhibits, and many more things to visitors to make their trip worthwhile.

Despite its vast and unique landscape, Canyonlands National Park is often missed out by most because of Arches National Park’s close proximity to the city and easy accessibility. The unique formations and remnants from the history are not getting their due share of popularity due to the same reasons. If you are a person who like adventurous trips to explore and learn and have some experience in hiking and backpacking in deserts, this gorgeous destination should be definitely on your bucket-list. The spellbinding landscapes, challenging trails, and recreational activities are some of the most interesting things that the Canyonlands Park has to offer. The best times to visit the Canyonlands are spring and fall when the temperature ranges between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit and the nights are cool.


Introduction

National parks are a source of education, enjoyment, and inspiration for adults and children alike. The Nation Park Service (NPS) agency was designed over a hundred years ago to preserve the natural and historic beauty of the earth. Over last the century, NPS has managed to provide protection to wildlife and enjoyment for all the past and current generations. Now, America’s 61 national parks attract over 300 million visitors every year because of their mesmerizing landscapes and unique formations.

Canyonlands National Park is among the natural wonders that have rich history and vast areas of scenic beauty to explore. It was established in September, 1964 and has contributed immensely to making Utah America’s most adventurous state. It has a vast rugged landscape of buttes, spires, arches, mesas and other natural formations. The Green and Colorado Rivers shaped the unique features and formations of this desert region. Divided into four districts, Canyonlands offers fascinating overlooks, rich wildlife, and various trails for hiking.

You can find a great variety of mammals, 273 species of birds, reptiles, and six species of amphibians. With such variety of wildlife in the park, it offers a wonderful opportunity to observe and enjoy wildlife on your trip to the Canyonlands National Park. You can also do photography of the wildlife by keeping a safe distance from it. Apart from fauna, the park also has a vast variety of plant life as well. Different species of moss, cactus, wild flowers, trees, shrubs and grasses add to the natural beauty of the park.

Since Canyonlands is part of the Colorado Plateau which is a desert region, Canyonlands experiences excessive temperature fluctuations. Sometimes, the temperature fluctuates to 40 degrees in a single day. The best times of the year to visit Caryonlands are the spring and fall when temperature stays between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit and the nights become cool. Summers and winters in this region can be especially harsh as the temperature can go to as high as 100 degrees Fahrenheit to as low as freezing point, respectively.

With four visitor centers, the various recreational activities and vast mesmerizing landscapes offer so much to learn about the geological and paleontological history of the earth. If you do not have this destination in your vacation plans so far, this guide will give you all the reasons to plan a trip to Canyonlands National Park for your next vacation.


A Brief History

The history of the Caryonlands National Park dates back 320 million years to the Pennsylvanian geologic period. The Canyonlands region was merely a basin back then with the Uncompahgre Uplift mountain range on its northeast side. The ocean flowing adjacent to the basin flooded it over and over again. Evaporation would follow the flooding which would lead to the accumulation of salts. On top of that, the erosion of the Uncompahgre Uplift added layers of dark shale to the region which is now what is known as Canyonlands. Over the period of next 10 million years, layers of limestone, sandstone, and shale kept on depositing in the area. After 10 million years, these layers started to get stable and create formations. The erosion by the Green and Colorado Rivers stripped away vast amount of these rocky layers leaving behind spectacular buttes, spires, fins, and cliffs.

As we move forward from the geological history of the land, we find that no army ever marched in the area of Canyonlands but this region was used for hunting game and growing crops since ancient times. Many ancient cultures and tribes resided there for a long but a 20 year long drought in the 13th Century, forced these ancient cultures to leave the region of Canyonlands. After that, it took several hundred years until explorers from around the world reached this region to mark it on their maps. In the 1880s, the growing business of cattle ranching in southeastern Utah, limited this land to cattle grazing.

It took another 5 or so decades until Bates Wilson, the superintendent of the Arches National Monument, started exploring the area to the south and west of Moab town of Utah. After coming across the Needles District, he started making efforts for the establishment of a new national park in this region. In 1961, the Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall flew over this area where the two rivers meet and he couldn’t help promoting Wilson’s proposal for the establishment of a new national park.

Finally, after 3 years of long debates, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the legislation to establish this region as Canyonlands National Park. Bates Wilson became the first superintendent of this park and due to his efforts commonly referred as the father of Canyonlands.


Travel Itinerary to the Park

There’s something about the unique formations and sturdy buttes of the Canyon National Park that makes it look raw and unrefined. While it might not be as popular as other national parks of USA, the Canyonlands National Park has all the reasons to make your trip exciting and adventurous. You can take the Highway 191 and drive 10 miles north to the Highway 313 and then drive on southwest. It will take you approximately 40 minutes from the Moab town before the majestic spires and towering buttes appear in front of you on your way to the visitor center. This travel itinerary to the Canyonlands National Parks will provide you with some essential tips to make you have a worthwhile experience.


How Long to Spend in Canyonlands

Canyonlands National Park has some spectacular views and hiking trails to offer. You can spend from a couple of hours to 4-5 days in the park with many exciting options to look forward to. You can plan to spend some hours in the park and drive around while hopping out to take short hikes or to enjoy the overlooks. You can even visit Arches and Canyonlands parks in the same day. You can also take an overnight trip to the Canyonlands to take part in a number of recreational activities at the park. Either way, you’ll have a memorable and exhilarating experience.


Best Time to Visit Canyonlands

Although you can visit Canyonlands any time of the year, you should bear in mind that the park faces harsh temperatures in both summers and winters. The temperature can go to a 100 degrees Fahrenheit in summers while it can drop down to 0 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit in winters. You can also expect thunderstorms in late summers and early fall. This makes spring and fall the best times of the year to plan your trip. April/May and September/October are the most suitable months to visit the park. During these months, the minimum and maximum temperature range stays between 30 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.


Entry Fees and Permits

The entrance fee to the Canyonlands National Park is $30 per private, non commercial vehicle with 15 passengers’ capacity or less, $25 per private, non commercial motorbike and $15 per person on foot or bicycle. This pass allows you free entry and exit into and out of the park for 7 days. You can also purchase an annual Southeast Utah Pass at $55 that has a one year validity to visit the Canyonlands and Arches National Parks as well as Natural Bridges and Hovenweep national monuments. It allows one private, non commercial vehicle or the pass holder and three persons when fee is charged per person. Entry is free for people of 16 years and younger .


Sights and Overlooks in Canyonlands

Canyonlands National Park has a lot of overviews and scenic places for sightseeing. Whether you are on foot or on a vehicle, you can take a quick stop at these overlooks and sights to enjoy and admire the overwhelming natural landscapes of the park. Green River Overlook, Mesa Arch, Grand View Point Overlook, Aztec Butte, etc all provide the visitors with a naturally framed scenic view of Canyonlands.


Take a Scenic Drive through Canyonlands

You have the vast area of Canyonlands to drive through on your trip to Canyonlands National Park. You can take a 6.5 miles scenic drive along the needles and hop out for short hikes if you like. You can drive to the Roadside Ruin to see the ancient Puebloan granary or Pothole Point Trail to watch the temporary ponds with micro life. You can also drive to the Cave Spring Trail to see the old school cowboy camp beside an alcove spring and ancient pictographs. If that not enough, you can also drive to the Slickrock Foot Trail to watch and photograph bighorn sheep in the Needles. From mesmerizing views of buttes and towering spires to wildlife, you have so much to explore on a scenic drive in Canyonlands National Park.


Hiking in Canyonlands National Park

There are several short and moderate trails with hardly any elevation for all kinds of hikers to explore the place on foot. There are some strenuous trails as well for hikers that want a challenging hiking trip; like Gooseberry Trail. If you are planning to hike in the Island in the Sky, you can take a half mile hike to the mysterious Upheaval Dome. You can also explore the Aztec Butte to find many 800 year old ancestral Puebloan granaries. You can also choose to hike through the Needles District on Elephant Hill Trail or take a 10 mile trip on the Confluence Overlook Trail. If you hike across Big Spring and Elephant Canyons, you can see the 100 foot ravine where the Green and Colorado rivers meet.

However, while hiking, it is absolutely imperative to take necessary precaution and carry the right gear. There are several short and fairly easy trails but the ones that go down into the canyons are ancient and rugged. You cannot find water below the rim so it is important to take sufficient water with you if you are to hike on those trails.


Cataract Canyon Rafting

If you are an adventurous person and are looking for a more thrilling activity in the park, you can go for white water rafting at Cataract Canyon. It is a 46 mile long canyon within Canyonlands National Park and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in South Utah. Many commercial white rafting companies offer guided trips through the Cataract Canyon. They use motorized as well as non motorized vehicles to take you on a whitewater rafting trip. If you are planning it privately, you are to get a permit from the National Park Service before going for Cataract Canyon Rafting.


Mountain Biking in Canyonlands

Canyonlands is well known for its mountain biking terrain as it is one of the best mountain biking destinations in the USA. The 100 mile White Rim Road at the Island in the Sky is an ideal destination for mountain biking as it circles around the Mesa. You can take a multi day mountain biking trip in this area. You are even allowed to bike on all public roads in the park. The Maze District also has some multi day biking trips to offer. However, due to the difficult terrain, it is difficult for support vehicles to tag along on the trip.


Star Gazing in Canyonlands

With some of the darkest night skies in North America, Canyonlands is a famous destination for star gazers. Due to the region’s high altitude and distance from large cities, the night skies are exceptionally darker. Canyonlands is officially an International Dark Sky Park and one of the best places to gaze at the Milky Way in the USA. Various star gazing events are organized in Canyonlands National Park to provide the visitors with a serene and mind blowing experience.


Wildlife in Canyonlands

Canyonlands is also self-sufficient with plenty of wildlife including different mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. You can find the native herds of desert bighorn sheep near rivers and streams. 273 species of birds can also be found in the park and you should not miss the famous songster in the park; canyon wrens in steep walled canyons, gray and black warblers in the pinon-juniper woodlands, and meadowlarks in the grasslands. You might also come across six different species of amphibians in the park.


Photography

At the Canyonlands National Park, you can also find wonderful scenic views and wildlife for photography. The sun casts beautiful hues of orange on the underside of Mesa Arch. From buttes to Druid Arch, there are a lot of fascinating landscapes to capture in your camera. You can also take pictures of the wildlife you come across in the park but remember to keep a safe distance while snapping photos.

With so many exciting things to offer, Canyonlands National Park is easily one of the best destinations for hikers and adventure lovers. There are various recreational activities to take part in and you can find a wonderful opportunity to gaze at the Milky Way if you are planning an overnight trip.


Top Attractions at Canyonlands National Park

With 58 national parks and 419 national park sites in the USA, one of the most popular types of holidays in the US is visiting national parks. Canyonlands National Park is also one of these beautiful national parks. It offers majestic landscapes as well as various recreational activities to on enjoy on your visit. The scenic beauty in this part of Utah is especially mesmerizing with arches, canyons, buttes, and spires surrounding the park on all sides. It has so much to offer to visitors of all ages, making it one of the best parks for a family vacation.

Canyonlands National Park has what’s seemingly last part of undisturbed region of the Colorado Plateau. The plateau is a geological province that covers a large part of the Colorado River and its tributaries. A landscape formed by the sedimentary rock deposits, the park has incredible natural features of a desert environment. If you do not have much time on your hands to plan an overnight stay at Canyonlands Park, you can simply take a drive through the park, stopping at popular sites, and enjoying the serene natural sights. However, there are plenty of outdoor recreational activities for longer trips, especially for someone who takes great joy and interest in adventure.

We have compiled some of the top attractions at Canyonlands National Park for you to plan a perfect trip with your family or friends.


The Four Visitor Centers

Canyonlands National Park is open for visitors all through the year, 24 hours a day. For the convenience of the visitors, the park has four visitor centers in all four districts of the park. The operating hours of the visitor centers sometimes varies with the seasons but in normal weather, you can find the visitor centers open and functioning. Following are the four visitor centers of the Canyonlands National Park:



Island in the Sky Visitor Center

Island in the Sky Visitor Centers have maps, books, exhibits, information, backcountry permits, park rangers. and restroom facilities. You should make a stop at this visitor center if you are in this district of the park. The visitor center also features a 15 minute orientation video “Wilderness of Rock” if you make a request at the visitor center.

The Island in the Sky Visitor Center is open daily from early March to 25th December. In the remaining months, the visitor center is closed on Wednesday and Thursday. The operating hours of the center might vary depending on the season.



The Needles Visitor Center

The visitor center of the Needles district offers maps, books, information, exhibits, backcountry permits, park rangers, picnic area, and restroom facilities. Water is also available at this visitor center throughout the year. Needles Visitor Center also features the 15 minute orientation movie “Wilderness of Rock” if you make a request. It is open from spring through fall. IF you visit the park in winters and find Needles visitor Center closed, you cam self-register for backcountry permits at the entrance of the visitor center.



Hans Flat Ranger Station

The Hans Flat Ranger Station is the visitor Center in the Maze district of the Canyonlands National Park. This distant visitor center is open every day all through the year. The visitor center offers books, maps and information about the Maze district of the park. However, there are no facilities of food, gas, or water sources in the Maze district except a pit toilet.



Canyonlands Backcountry Office

The Backcountry Office is situated at park administrative offices in the south of Moab. The park rangers at this office can help you with some information about travelling backcountry and can issue backcountry permits.


The Island in the Sky District

The Island in the Sky District of the Canyonlands National Park is the most visited part of the park. It is closest to access from Moab and has picturesque overlooks and a range of different trails. It offers opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, ATV excursions, and horseback riding. You can get a stunning view from the 1000 ft high mesa of the Island in the Sky district. It also offers more adventurous options to the visitors like rock climbing and camping at Willow Flat Campground. Sometimes, there are chances of flash flooding due to summer rains, therefore, you should plan your trip considering the weather in the area. You can get all the information about activities and overlooks at the Island in the Sky district from its visitor center.


The Maze District

The Maze district of the Canyonlands National Park has some of the most difficult trails and terrains in the park. Due to these rugged terrains, this is the least visited part of the Canyonlands National Park. The Maze Overlook trail of this district somehow managed to get its share of popularity. You might need a rope in this area to lower your packs over difficult areas of descent. The Maze Overlook Trail has primitive 6 miles round trip that takes about 3-4 hours to cover. Once you manage to reach the Horse Canyon, you can get an astounding view of the Harvest Scene which has various prehistoric pictographs. There are many other different trails in this district but since this the remotest area of the park, you cannot find facilities of gas, water or food and supplies in this area. You will have to carry these supplies as well as all the necessary gear to hike in this area. It takes from 3 days to a week to explore this area of difficult terrains.


Grand View Point

The Grand View Point is an overlook at an altitude of 6282 ft above the sea level. It is in the southernmost region along the Island in the Sky drive. You can watch the distant mountains, basins, White Rim Road and canyons from this view point. The scenic road to the Grand View Point is a 19 mile long, asphalted road and has fascinating views all the way.

As the name suggests, it has endless spectacular views along the way. Panels at the Grand View Point give you an opportunity to watch the geological formations that make up the Canyonlands completely. You can observe the 1000 foot trench carved by the Colorado River into the earth. The next layer that will come into your way is the White Rim and a 1000 ft above that you can find the top of the mesa to get a grand overlook over all the stunning landscape. After that, you can take the trail towards the southwest to find the beautiful views to the east across Monument Basin toward the La Sal Mountains.


Rivers in the Canyonlands

For adventurers, there are opportunities of rafting, canoeing, and kayaking in the calm water upstream from where the Green and Colorado Rivers combine. On the other hand, for thrill seekers, just down the confluence, the water rapids rush into the Cataract Canyon making it a very tempting route for whitewater rafters. The highest water flows are in summers due to the melting of snow and heavy rainstorms. Cataract Canyons has 14 miles of rapids that range from I to Class V categories of difficulty. You are required to get permits for whitewater rafting here. Some guided trips organizers arrange group trips for whitewater as well as calm water expeditions.


Green River Overlook

Just ahead of the Willows Campground in the Island in the Sky District is the Green River Overlook. It is at an elevation of 6000 ft and provides a mesmerizing view of the entire district. The Green River that formed this beautiful landscape and the White Rim Trail can be easily seen from this overlook. The ease of access and the spectacular scenic view makes it one of the top attractions to visit during your visit to Canyonlands National Park. For best views which are ideal for photography as well, visit this overlook at sunrise or sunset when the undulating formations and buttes cause the sunlight to reach the canyon in streaks. A parking lot at the Green River Overlook is also available for the convenience of the visitors.


White Rim Trail

The White Rim Trail is a narrow primitive trail along the edge of the Green River bench for 100 miles, just about halfway down the canyons. The four wheel drive to this trail provides a close up of the beautiful arches, ancient ruins, granaries, spires, and buttes. You can find more beautiful scenic views of the Island in the Sky over this two days long trail. This 71.2 mile long unpaved 4 wheel drive will offer beautiful views along the way.

There are countless beautiful attractions to visit on your trip to Canyonlands. However, it is important to get some information, ideally from the visitor center, before pursuing a trail or visiting an overlook. Most of the parts of the park do not have all the facilities and have difficult terrains. We recommend you to carry appropriate gear with you and go with a partner for your ease and safety.



Best Hikes in Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park is just an hour away from the Arches National Park and it is as beautiful as the Arches. Despite being so near the Arches National Park, Canyonlands yet has a very different and beautiful scenic landscape. One of the best things to do in Canyonlands National Park is hiking. The park has various different trails for all types of hikers and you can easily find many easy to difficult trails to have a worthwhile hiking experience.

We have compiled a list of some of the best hiking trails in Canyonlands National Park for your trip. Read on to choose the best ones for your itinerary to Canyonlands National Park.


The Needles

There is a collection of 20 mile trails that cross through the Needles district. The Needles district gets its name from the Cedar Mesa sandstone needles that rise up high towards the sky. Hiking on these trails offers a number of wonderful destinations to reach like the Druid Arch. The formations that will come across your path on the Joint Trail will be a splendid experience for you. Another great thing about hiking in the Needles is that you will find a few people here on these trails which will make your trip an even more peaceful experience.


False Kiva Trail

The False Kiva Trail is 1.9 mile moderately trafficked trail that takes you to Class II archaeological site in the Island in the Sky district. The False Kiva is a manmade stone circle in a cave in a remote area of Canyonlands. The origin of this alcove is unknown but it offers spectacular views from this point. It is estimated that the large ring of stone rocks were put in place here about 600 years ago. It is not an actual Kiva but an archeological site. Unfortunately, due to the damage done to the site by tourists, the NPS closed the False Kiva in 2018. However, you will be able to hike on the trail and view this archeological site from a distance. This ancient remnants of a sacred and a ceremonial site held value for the Native Americans, therefore, you should refrain from going ahead of the sign that blocks entry from thereon.


Mesa Arch

The trail to the Mesa Arch is a 0.6 mile heavily trafficked trail that has beautiful wild flowers along the way. Since the trail is perfect for beginners, children, and families, it is one of the most visited trails in Canyonlands National Park. It is also one of the most unique vistas of the park for sightseeing. It is situated along the main park road in the Island in the Sky district. You can find spectacular views of sunrise and sunset from the Mesa Arch and these views are often found in many photo galleries around the world as well. You should expect to see a lot of people with cameras early in the morning especially if the morning is partly cloudy.


Aztec Butte

Aztec Butte Trail is a 1.7 mile long heavily trafficked trail that crosses grasslands and then reaches a steep slope to a dome shaped butte that is above the mesa. It is in the Island in the Sky district and very easy to access. You can find some of the most wonderful views of the ancient granary and the river cut formations. You can also watch the snowcapped peaks of the La Sal Mountains in the distance. The hike to the Aztec Butte offers a wonderful opportunity to explore the desert regions of the Southwest.


Murphy Trail

The Murphy Trail is a long 10.1 mile lightly trafficked loop trail which allows easy access. You can find mesmerizing views of eroded sandstone and the trail can take you to many beautiful overlooks. The Murphy Trail also allows you to adjust your routes to many overlooks on the way which makes it a off the radar hike. To watch the spectacular view of the sunlight sparkling on the water of the Green River, hike on the trail around sunset or sunrise.


Upheaval Dome

The Crater View Trail that takes you to the Upheaval Dome is a 1.5 mile moderately trafficked trail. Upheaval Dome is basically an impact structure of the ground. It has eroded remains of an impact crater in Canyonlands National Park. Geologists and scientists believe this crater is 170 million years old. You can clearly see the crater as brown and black rings on the surface of the ground. The origin of this crater is, however, unknown. Some suggest it could have been caused by a meteor strike while others believe that it could be an extruding salt dome. The wonderful canyon views surrounding the trail and area of the Upheaval Dome make it a fun hiking trail for the visitors of Canyonlands National Park.


Salt Creek Canyon

The Salt Creek Canyon Trail is a 30 mile long trail in the Needles district of the park. The trail has some of the most well-known and well preserved works of native rock art along the way. You will also find the beautiful Angel Arch on this trail. For adventure lovers, this hike offers an amazing experience for backpacking on the rugged trails and through stunning scenic views of the park.


Horseshoe Canyon and the Grand Gallery

The 8 mile trail to the Horseshoe Canyon and the Grand Valley has one of the best collections of the ancient rock art in the world. You cannot access this trail from any of the three districts of the park and you will have to come from the San Rafael Swell region. You can find fascinating desert landscapes and fossilized prints of dinosaurs. It is one of the best archeological sites in the world to explore on your visit to Canyonlands National Park.

Canyonlands National Park has some of the best trails for hiking. Regardless of your age, you can find a hiking trail that suits your preferences. However, most of the trails and famous sites in the park do not have facilities of gas, water or food and most places have pit toilets. You must carry sufficient supplies and adequate gear with you if you are planning a hiking trip in the park.


Accommodation Options

From astounding scenic landscapes to various different trails, Canyonlands National Park has a lot to offer . If you are planning for an overnight stay at the park and many hiking and exploration trips, it is very likely that you will find yourself exhausted by the end of the day. It is, therefore, important to have your options for lodging in front of you when you’re planning your itinerary to Canyonlands National Park. There are various comfortable hotels and lodgings that are at a short drive to any of the districts of the park. There are campgrounds but no hotels, lodging or shopping stores inside the park. We have picked the best accommodation options that are closest to the park for you on your trip to Canyonlands National Park.


Big Horn Lodge

Located in downtown Moab, just minutes away from the Canyonlands National Park, Big Horn Lodge is one of the best lodging accommodation options offered by the Moab town. The rooms are clean and smoke-free and they allow taking your mountain bike to your room. The service is great and they also offer pet-friendly rooms if you make a request. It is located near restaurants so you can have your breakfast or meals easily by stepping out of the lodge. Since the lodge is merely minutes away from the park, you can take a break from strenuous activities of the park and get some rest in the well-provided room of the Big Horn Lodge.


Best Western Plus Canyonlands Inn

Located in the heart of the downtown Moab, the Best Western Plus Canyonlands Inn is a short drive away to Canyonlands National Park. The Inn is also at a walking distance to many local restaurants and souvenir shops. The Inn offers 80 spacious non smoking guest rooms and complimentary breakfast buffet. It also has a seasonal pool, a 24 hour fitness center, a guest laundry, internet access, safe bicycle storage, jaccuzi and a children’s playground. So, if you are planning a family trip to Canyonlands National Park, this should be your top choice for accommodation.


Camping Sites

Canyonlands National Park has basically two camping sites, one at the Needles and another one at Island in the Sky. Individual camping sites at Island in the Sky can be taken on the basis of first come, first served while the individual and group camping sites at the Needles can be reserved beforehand.

The Island in the Sky Campground has 10 sites and its open year round but it does not have water facility. On the other hand, the Needles Campground has 26 individual sites and 3 group sites. It also has toilets, picnic tables, and fire rings at the campground.


Safety Tips for your Trip

A trip to Canyonlands National Park is fun and full of promising adventure. There are a few possible hazards that you should be mindful of on your trip to the park.


Dehydration

Since Canyonlands is a desert region, it is important that you are adequately hydrated on your trip. There are very limited water filling stations in the park. You will find no drinking water at the Island in the Sky campground or anywhere in the Maze district.


Wildlife

Keep a safe distance from the wildlife of the park or observe them from your car. The animals can sometimes be aggressive to your presence or they might also carry diseases. Moreover, some animals risk your safety as well like rattle snakes or black bears, so it is best to keep your safety as a priority.


Lightning and Flash Floods

Storms and flash floods in the park can be dangerous and unanticipated. Do not stay out if you are caught in a storm, either return to your vehicle or get indoors. If you are outside, avoid lone trees, edges of the cliff or high ridges. Moreover, we advise you to never try to cross a wash that is flooding.

Regardless of the activity that you’re doing in the park, you should prioritize your safety first and foremost. Avoid climbing steep slopes or rocks that seems loose. It is much easier to climb that up than to descend.


Afterword

Canyonlands National Park is a unique and dramatic landscape in Southeastern Utah. It has beautiful mesa, towering pinnacles, remote canyons and unique formations carved by the Colorado River. It attracts a large number of visitors each year and offers exciting recreational activities to them. Apart from recreational activities, there are so many other things to do at the Canyonlands. From sightseeing at different overlooks to hiking on various trails, the park promises an adventurous and memorable experience for all its visitors.

To plan out your trip effectively, you should make an itinerary for your trip to the Canyonlands. Get the important reservations beforehand and do not forget to stop by the visitor centers of the park to meet with the rangers and get important information. We this comprehensive guide, we hope to make your planning easier and your experience grandeur.

Have a safe trip!