Canyonlands National Park is Utah's largest park and world-known for its diverse beauty and recreation opportunities.see more »
Canyonlands National Park
The Canyonlands Experience:
Imagine wave after wave of deep canyons, formed by the currents and tributaries of Utah's Green and Colorado rivers, divided with towering mesas, pinnacles, cliffs and spires, and spread out over tens of thousands of acres of some of the world's most breathtaking red rock country. Now times that vision by a factor of three. Canyonlands National Park is made up of three distinct districts, each increasingly more remote, more startling and more alluring. The only question remains is, to see Canyonlands, will you hike it, bike it, raft it, off-road it ... or do it all?
Read about two family-friendly hikes in Canyonlands
Canyonlands is world-renowned for its four-wheel drive and mountain bike routes, including the phenomenal 100-mile White Rim Trail, easily a top ten mountain bike destination. Whitewater rafting is also a highlight of this Mighty 5® national park experience. The rapids of the Colorado are not only an incredible adventure, they're a great way to cool off and see the park from a whole different perspective.
You can also experience Utah's renowned red rock climbing, hiking and horseback riding, as well as stargazing, auto-tourism and random bursts of creative writing within sublime nature. It's the Edward Abbey way.
The park's visitor centers are open year-round.
8 Ways to Better Understand Canyonlands National Park
1. Find a Needle in a Haystack
Hours from any major city. Hours further in by hike. The Needles district of Canyonlands is permeated with ancestral spirit and the authentic wild....
2. See the Power of Water
The mesas and canyons of Canyonlands showcase eons of work by the currents and tributaries of the Green and Colorado Rivers....
3. Follow in the Footsteps of Cowboys
Cave Spring offers a glimpse into the life of cattlemen who settled this area in the late 19th century. The trail is short, well-marked, and really fun.... see more »
4. Photograph an Icon
Join photographers from around the world at sunrise. Perched on a cliff, Mesa Arch is lit on fire by the rising sun. It captivates.... see more »
5. Experience Southern Utah's "Monsoon" Season
Brief storms can punctuate the afternoon in Canyonlands. They can be beautiful and refreshing, but check with park rangers for current conditions and safety advice....
6. Spectate With the Ancients
Gnarled juniper and ancient pinyon pine have set up shop in crazy, beautiful places. Join them in the revelation of their view....
7. Get Lost in a Maze
The Maze is the most remote district of Canyonlands. If backcountry adventure is in your plans, get a permit, carry plenty of supplies and retreat into the wild....
8. Hike a Marathon
A strenuous but rewarding multiday hike into the backcountry of the Needles District accesses some of the area's most dramatic natural features, like Angel Arch and Molar Rock.... see more »
Southeastern Utah can exceed 100 F (28 C) in the summer and the high country desert plateaus will rapidly parch your thirst. As in neighboring Arches National Park, you can beat the heat by planning ahead, carrying sunscreen and extra water as well as playing in the morning and evening during the peak of summer. Of course, many believe that Canyonlands is best seen at sunset and sunrise anyway. You'll also experience very clement weather throughout the spring and fall deep into November, though temperatures begin to dip to freezing during the night by late November. As with all of Southern Utah's Mighty 5® national parks, incredible "monsoon" season thunderstorms in the late afternoon can result in potentially dangerous flash floods.
Camping and Lodging:
Two developed campgrounds, one in Canyonlands' Needles District and one in Island in the Sky, are first come, first serve. Permits can be reserved for backcountry camping within the park or on BLM land in the Canyonlands environs. Moab and Monticello are popular base camps for Island in the Sky and The Needles, respectively, and each offer a range of accommodations and rates tuned to your experience, from RV parks, cabins and lodges to upscale hotels or multiperson condominiums. Area camping: In the park, Outside the park, BLM Lands, Commercial/RV, State Parks
Logistics and Drive Time:
Major entrances to the park are accessible from U.S. Route 191. Access to Island in the Sky is 35 miles northwest of Moab. The Needles District is accessible 22 miles north of Monticello. Canyonlands National Park is a little over 4 hours from Salt Lake City.
The deep-river channels separate the park into its three distinct districts, which can provide for three separate experiences depending on your adventure level, or one multiday experience. Add a couple of days for rafting and Canyonlands is easily a single vacation destination, or handpick a couple of unforgettable hikes closer to the visitors centers. Either way, Canyonlands is a national park that is not easily forgotten. Island in the Sky is the northern section, where visitors can look down to the Colorado River on the east and the Green River on the west. The southern tip overlooks the rivers' confluence. The Needles District is named for its profusion of red rock spires and sandstone fins. The remote Maze Districtis Canyonlands' most jumbled stone playground, requiring backcountry use permits year-round. Hundreds of thousands have made the pilgrimage to Canyonlands inspired by Western author Edward Abbey, walking in the same pathways, and leaving with the same renewed sense of wonder, enchantment and lust for life. Utah's largest national park has some of the least-visited areas in the nation, yet also has some of the most well-photographed icons in the West. You can custom build your Canyonlands adventure to meet your expectations, whether that's short-but-inspiring hikes with the whole family, hitting the rapids or retreating into the backcountry.
At 337,598 acres, or 527 square miles (1,365 square kilometers), Canyonlands is Utah's largest designated national park.
Canyonlands was designated a national park in 1964, expanded in 1971 and has a human history dating back 10,000 years.
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