22 Best Things to See in Canyonlands National Park
Contemplating the epic measurement of this park—it’s greater than 350,000 acres (or 1,366 km²) of rugged canyon wilderness—, you may marvel what to do in Canyonlands National Park.
It’s unattainable to magnify the magnificence and sheer vastness of Canyonlands National Park, Utah. Located within the heart of the Colorado Plateau and bisected by each the Colorado and Inexperienced Rivers, this virtually incomprehensibly wild park protects actually lots of canyons, in addition to numerous spires, mesas, buttes, and arches.
Best things to see in the Canyonlands National Park
To make that call simpler for you, I’ve compiled an outline of the very best issues to do in Canyonlands National Park. To maintain issues at their most handy, I’ve restricted this submit to solely the Island within the Sky District.
1. Visitor Center
The Island within the Sky Visitor Center is open each day, from spring via fall. It’s closed in winter.
As in all national parks in America, the visitor center is the very best place to begin. This Canyonlands visitor center lies on UT 313, a 40-minute drive from Moab.
From spring via fall, that is the place you’ll be able to high off your water bottles. There are also displays, normal info, books, and maps.
You may get your backcountry to allow it, whereas park rangers are in a position to provide extra detailed and up-to-date info on path circumstances, the climate forecast, and so forth.
2. Horse Level State Park Picnic Space
Simply after crossing the “neck” of the park—a slender strip that helped cowboys of yore corral wild mustangs on the purpose—
this picnic space is a perfect spot to loosen up after a hike alongside the rim or earlier than or after taking within the views overlooking Colorado from the purpose itself.
Every picnic desk has a shade construction and spotless restrooms are situated a half-mile away on the level.
3. Shafer Canyon Overlook
The primary main ceases on the Scenic Drive is the Shafer Canyon Overlook.
From atop this facet mesa, you may have an excellent view of the Shafer Canyon and the zigzagging Shafer Path, arguably the preferred mountain biking path in the Island within the Sky.
4. Mesa Arch
Probably the most photographed and standard of all Canyonlands National Park sights is Mesa Arch.
This slender arch stretches alongside the Island within the Sky rim, framing the large canyon beneath, the La Sal Mountains, Monster Tower, and Washerwoman Arch in a ravishing method.
That is arguably the crown jewel of the Island within the Sky, a spot that it is best to on no account skip. It’s particularly spectacular at dawn when the day’s first solar rays peek via the arch.
Sundown is fairly wonderful as well. It’s a simple 0.25-mile (400-meter) stroll from the car parking zone to the arch.
5. The island within the Sky Park Highway
This 12-mile-long primary street contained in the park is bisected by a 5-mile facet street to the Upheaval Dome space.
To get pleasure from dramatic views, together with the Inexperienced and Colorado rivers, cease on the overlooks and take the quick walks. When you get to the park, permit no less than two hours to discover.
6. Cowboy Line Camp
This fascinating cease on the Cave Springs Path is an genuine instance of cowboy life greater than a century in the past.
You do not want to finish your entire path (which incorporates two quick ladders and a few rocky mountaineering) to see the 19th-century artifacts on the Cowboy Camp.
It’s located in Off Cave Springs Rd., 2.3 miles from visitor center Canyonlands National Park, Utah 84535, USA.
7. Needles District Park Highway
You will really feel such as you’ve pushed right into a Hollywood Western as you roll alongside the park street within the Needles District.
Purple mesas and buttes rise in opposition to the horizon, blue mountain ranges interrupt the rangelands, and the colorful red-and-white needles stand like troopers on the far facet of grassy meadows.
It’s best to get out of the automobile at a number of the marked roadside stops, together with each overlook at Pothole Level. Permit no less than 90 minutes on this less-traveled part of the park.
8. Scenec Drive
Tempo your day alongside the Needles’ 6.5-mile-long Scenic Drive, stopping for 4 self-guided hikes as time permits:
Roadside Wreck to see a historic Puebloan granary (20 minutes); Cave Spring Path to view an old-style cowboy camp subsequent to an alcove spring with historic pictographs (45 minutes); Pothole Level Path to examine ephemeral ponds teeming with micro-life (45 minutes); and a 2.4-mile loop on the Slickrock Foot Path, your finest probability for spying bighorn sheep within the Needles.
9. An island within the Sky Visitor Center
The gateway to the world-famous White Rim Trail, this visitor center, 21 miles from U.S. 191, previously the park entrance off the primary park street, is usually stuffed with a mixture of mountain bikers, hikers, and vacationers.
Benefit from the orientation movie, then browse the bookstore for details about the Canyonlands area.
Displays assist clarify animal variations in addition to a number of the historical past of the park. Rangers give quick talks twice a day.
10. Hans Flat Ranger Station
This distant outpost—46 miles east of Route 24; 21 miles south and east of the Y junction and Horseshoe Canyon kiosk on a mud street—
is a treasure trove of books, maps, and different paperwork concerning the unforgiving Maze District of Canyonlands.
The slot canyons, pictographs, and myriad rock formations are tempting, however, you have to know what you are doing.
The rangers will probably be direct with you—inexperienced off-road drivers and backpackers can get themselves into critical hassle within the Maze, which is one of the best things to see in the Canyonlands National Park.
Simply to get right here you should drive 46 miles on a mud street that’s generally impassable even to 4X4 automobiles.
There is a pit bathroom, however no water, meals, or providers of any form. Should you’re headed for the backcountry, permits value $30 per group for as much as seven days.
Rangers provide guided hikes in Horseshoe Canyon on most weekends throughout the spring and fall.
11. Gooseberry Trail
The Gooseberry Trail is definitely the most effective Canyonlands hikes in the Island within the Sky if you wish to get an actual sense of the sheer magnitude of those landscapes.
That is the steepest path within the Island within the Sky district. A path lined with switchbacks, it swiftly descends 1,400 feet (427 meters) from the mesa’s rim to the White Rim bench.
Some sections are very steep, working alongside sheer cliffs and near-vertical slopes. There are not any handrails, rungs of ladders, so taking uttermost care is suggested.
Watch your step and keep watch over the climate. There’s no method you may get out of the canyon shortly if a thunderstorm surprises you.
That mentioned it’s a completely spectacular path. As is the case in locations like Grand Canyon National Park or Dying Valley National Park, there’s no strategy to totally grasp the size of the panorama should you’re not fully immersed in it.
Should you’re on the lookout for an immersive expertise, the Gooseberry Path is likely one of the finest hikes in Canyonlands National Park.
The roundtrip distance is 5.4 miles (8.6 kilometers) and the roundtrip hike takes between 4 and 5 hours.
12. Pothole Level Path
Microscopic creatures lie dormant in swimming pools that fill solely after uncommon rainstorms. When the rains do come, some eggs hatch inside hours and life turns into the scenery.
Should you’re fortunate, you will hit Pothole Level after a storm.
The dramatic views of the Needles and Six Shooter Peak make this straightforward, 0.6-mile round-trip worthwhile.
Plan for about 45 minutes. There isn’t any shade, so put on a hat and take loads of water.
Located in Off primary street, about 10 miles from Needles district park entrance, Canyonlands National Park, Utah 84535, USA.
13. Upheaval Dome
A contender for the strangest geological characteristic within the district, Upheaval Dome lies on the finish of 1—the western—of the 2 arms of the Scenic Drive.
Its identity may trigger you to anticipate a towering rock dome, however, that is really a 1,500-feet (460-meter) deep crater.
You may attain this fascinating spot on a brief mountaineering path, on the finish of which a few displays speak about Upheaval Dome’s potential origins.
5 miles from the Inexperienced River Overlook, the street will take you to the car parking zone for Upheaval Dome.
A fulfilling however barely tough 10-minute stroll to the primary viewpoint (there are two viewpoints, however, the second is significantly additional away, and should you’re quick on time we wouldn’t suggest it) will unveil a really unusual sight certainly – a mountain inside a crater!
In response to the signal on the viewpoint, theories abound as to the origins of Upheaval Dome, together with a potential meteorite effect or salt deposits left behind by a prehistoric inland sea.
Regardless of the origin, the setting may be very unusual certainly, and properly definitely worth the quick stroll.
Afterward, contemplate taking a chew to eat or making dinner within the nice picnic areas across the Upheaval Dome trailhead, which is one of the best things to see in the Canyonlands National Park.
14. Red Rock Explorer Pack
Identical to borrowing a book from a library, children can try a backpack stuffed with instruments for studying.
The sturdy backpack consists of binoculars, a magnifying glass, and a three-ring binder stuffed with actions.
It may be cumbersome to hold all the things on a hike, however, the backpack is nice for across the campfire or again in your resort room.
Explorer packs can be found in Canyonlands National Park on the Needles and the Island within the Sky customer facilities.
15. Best Hikes
In Island within the Sky, it’s a half-mile stroll to the park’s best thriller, Upheaval Dome. Is the mile-wide crater the results of a collapsed salt dome or a meteor strike?
(Amongst geologists, it’s a breakup verdict.) Discover Aztec Butte, a mile-long path that begins with a simple saunter alongside a sandy wash then requires some steep friction strolling on Navajo Slickrock to succeed in the highest.
Search for a number of 800-year-old ancestral Puebloan granaries hiding beneath the rim.
Within the Needles district, the basic hike is a six-mile round-trip route from the Elephant Hill trailhead to Chesler Park, an unlimited sage-scented meadow edged by the park’s namesake sandstone spires.
The 10-mile round-trip Confluence Overlook Path calls for a bit extra sweat fairness.
There’s scant shade hereabouts as you hike throughout Large Spring and Elephant Canyons however the payoff is spectacular: a yawning 1,000-foot chasm the place mighty Colorado and Inexperienced Rivers merge.
16. Green River Overlook
Relating to photogenic viewpoints, it doesn’t get a lot better than the Green River Overlook.
From this overlook, the view takes within the canyons of the southern a part of the Island within the Sky, stretching all the way in which to the Inexperienced River within the totally wild Maze District.
This vista is so sensational that no phrases suffice to explain it.
17. Shafer Canyon Overlook
Whereas not the best view within the park, Shafer Canyon Overlook is definitely accessed by foot from the reverse the Visitor Centre and eases you properly into the park “scene”, which is one of the best things to see in the Canyonlands National Park.
It wouldn’t do to see the very best view first, now, wouldn’t it?
There are additionally some fascinating rock formations surrounding the overlook, and you should utilize the chance to nip into the visitor center and replenish your water bottles and grow to be acquainted with the nuances of the park.
18. Valley of the Gods
A red fairyland of slender spires and buttes, the Valley of the Gods is a smaller model of Monument Valley.
Roughly 12 miles west of Bluff, you’ll be able to take a fairly, personal drive via this comparatively unvisited space on the 17-mile-long Valley of the Gods Highway, which begins on Route 163 and ends on Route 261.
19. Flora and Fauna
Certainly one of Utah’s few remaining native herds of desert bighorn sheep roams the park, by no means straying removed from its water sources.
Close to rivers and streams, you’ll additionally discover lots of the park’s 273 hen species.
Maintain an ear out for the park’s songsters: canyon wrens in steep-walled canyons, western meadowlarks within the grasslands, black-throated grey warblers within the piñon-juniper woodlands.
Wildflowers peak in Might—orange globemallow, claret cup cactus, Indian paintbrush—as yellowy stands of cliff rose to launch a potent perfume.
The sego lily, Utah’s state flower, is an uncommon discovery. (Search for it hiding among the many sagebrushes).
A second wildflower bloom unfolds in early fall relying on the rain. Moonlit walks reveal night-blooming wildflowers: sand verbena, night primrose, and sacred datura, which is one of the best things to see in the Canyonlands National Park.
20. Grand View Point
On the finish of the opposite—the southern—arm of the Scenic Drive, you’ll discover one of many park’s best viewpoints.
Grand View Level, positively appropriately named, offers wonderful panoramic views of the canyons beneath the rim and stretching towards the horizon.
As nice because the views from this Canyonlands overlook are, they get even higher on the finish of the Grand View Level Path, which is one of the best things to see in the Canyonlands National Park.
Among the finest issues to do in Canyonlands National Park, this 2-mile (3.2-kilometer) out-and-back path presents not simply nice, however downright jaw-dropping views all alongside the canyon’s rim.
It ends on the very fringe of the rim, to some extent the place daredevils can actually gaze vertically down the cliff wall.
Should you arrive early and have a while to kill, the path which winds alongside the rim from the overlook is a wonderful one, and time properly spent.
Permit no less than 40 minutes to benefit from the stroll, take within the panoramas surrounding the purpose on the finish of the path, and return in time for the sundown present from the overlook.
Both that or stick around on the level for a distinct sundown perspective.
21. Picket Shoe Arch
Youngsters will get pleasure from on the lookout for the tiny window within the rock that appears like a wood shoe with a turned-up toe, which is one of the best things to see in the Canyonlands National Park.
If you cannot discover it by yourself, there is a marker that can assist you. It is located on Off primary street, about 6 miles from Needles entrance to park, Canyonlands National Park, Utah.
22. Top Experience
At Island, within the Sky’s Grand View Level Overlook, sync your go to to an hour earlier than sundown.
As shadows play throughout an unlimited tectonic panorama of Jurassic interval rock, you’ll really feel the primeval pull off a land forgotten by time.
Launch out on a multiday, 100-mile mountain bike trek alongside the White Rim Path or raft down in any other case inaccessible Cataract Canyon, plunging via a number of the gnarliest class V rapids in North America.
Should you’re up for a problem, you’ll be able to take a ranger-led hike into Horseshoe Canyon and stand face-to-face with shamanic life-size figures painted between 2000 B.C. and A.D. 500 by mysterious pre-ancient Puebloan nomads.