Canyonlands National Park, Utah

When visiting Arches N.P., plan to spend a day visiting Canyonlands.  While Arches gives you plenty of hikes through rocks and monoliths, in contrast, the northern portion of Canyonlands offers hikes on the rim of expansive canyons overlooking breathtaking views for miles.  There are two main portions of the park,  Needles and Island in the Sky.  Needles is probably more well recognized, and it lays in the southeastern portion of the park.  Island in the Sky is the northern portion of the park, making it a short ride from Arches.  From Moab to Island in the Sky, plan for approx. 35-45 minutes of driving one-way.  From Moab to Needles, you are looking at around 1 1/2 hour drive one-way.    The two areas do not connect by road through the park.  During our visit, we chose to see Island in the Sky and save Needles for a future date.  Canyonlands Tips

Upon entering the Island in the Sky portion, there is a small visitors center with restrooms and your last chance for water, so be sure to stock up.  There are several overlooks that do not require any hiking, while others require short hikes for a full view.  Lets take a closer look at our favorite stops:

Buck Canyon Overlook:  This is an overlook with no hike necessary.  Buck Canyon Overlook, Canyonlands NP Utah

A closer look at the seam. Those are the La Sal mountains in the distance.

A closer look at the seam. Those are the La Sal mountains in the distance.

Grand View Point:  There are views from the parking lot at this stop, and there is also a trail along the rim to another grand overlook.  The trail is under two miles round-trip.

This is the overlook from the parking lot area. The La Sals are on the far left, and the Abajo Mountains lay straight ahead.

This is the overlook from the parking lot area. The La Sals are on the far left, and the Abajo Mountains lay straight ahead.

The trail takes you over rock and sand.

The trail takes you over rock and sand.

The overlook at the end of the trail.

The overlook at the end of the trail.

Upheaval Dome:  There is a short hike up with steps for a vantage point of this feature.  Scientists are unsure of what caused it, but its uniqueness is worth a stop.

Upheaval Dome, Canyonlands NP Utah

Whale Rock:  This was our favorite hike!  It is a short, fun hike up a steep rock face to a 360 degree view.  The other overlooks have better views, but we love hiking directly on the red rock!

While short, it is a steep hike.

While short, it is a steep hike.

A view from the top.

A view from the top.

We loved it so much, we even took a quick video at the top…

Additional Tips:

  • This park is made for 4-wheeling!  On our next visit, we definitely want to rent a Jeep and explore even more.
  • We were able to complete the above itinerary before lunch, which allowed us to head back to the rv to beat the afternoon heat.
  • You don’t have to be a hiker here to enjoy many outstanding overlooks.
  • Take water!  I really can’t stress it enough.  They were recommending 1 gallon per person, per day.
  • Guided tours can be set up in Moab for 4 wheeling, mountain biking, and rafting (Green & Colorado Rivers come together here).
  • The park accepted the America the Beautiful pass.
  • Park Map:               Canyonlands NP Map

 

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