Winter Activities in Canyonlands
Since you may have the trails largely to yourself, it’s important to be self-reliant and well-prepared. Sandstone covered with snow and ice can be dangerous to navigate, and cairns covered with snow make wayfinding difficult. Wear sturdy boots and consider adding traction devices for a better grip. Be sure to always bring a flashlight, map, survival supplies, warm layers and first aid equipment, and leave your trip plan with an emergency contact.
Island in the Sky
Enjoy stunning views while hiking along the mesa that’s wedged between the Colorado and Green rivers, with several short hiking options available. More challenging trails are available, but keep in mind that the trails venturing below the mesa top are all considered strenuous and can be treacherous with icy conditions.
The Needles district has 60 miles of trails, including a handful of shorter routes along with many more challenging ones. Be aware that many of these trails have steep sections and drop-offs and some may require climbing or descending ladders, so keep these possibilities in mind when planning.
The Maze is remote and only for experienced and self-reliant visitors. Check with park rangers before planning a winter visit to the Maze to obtain the most up-to-date information. Home to one of the best preserved pictograph and petroglyph panels in the United States, Horseshoe Canyon is an enjoyable hike for a well-prepared visitor. Just be sure to bring plenty of water, as none is available there.
With some of the darkest skies in the country, Canyonlands is designated as a Gold-Tier International Dark Sky Park. On a clear night, visitors may be able to see thousands of stars, so spend some time stargazing and prepare to be mesmerized by the night sky.
For an optimal stargazing experience, plan your trip for a new moon when the sky will be the darkest. Be patient and wait for your eyes to adjust to darkness — this can take up to 30 minutes. If you need light, use the red light setting available on many headlamps and flashlights to preserve your night vision. Consider bringing a star chart or downloading an app that will teach you about the celestial features that catch your eye.
Explore Canyonlands in winter and capture the scene with landscape photography. Visitors will enjoy the softer winter light and opportunities to capture golden light in morning and evening. Please make sure you practice mindful photography.
Night photography is also popular and a great way to capture images of the incredible night sky. The park encourages people not to use any artificial light sources for nighttime photography (other than light for personal route-finding) in order to preserve the dark sky for others.