Set in the high desert of the American Southwest, Canyonlands National Park comprises 337,598 acres (136,621 hectares) of rugged landscape divided into four distinct districts by the Green and Colorado rivers. Deep craters, towering rock spires, white cliffs, and majestic buttes dominate the landscape of Utah’s largest national park.
There are many ways to explore the park, though a majority of visitors do so by driving a 34-mile (55-kilometer) scenic loop through the popular Island in the Sky district. The Needles district attracts hikers, while the Maze rewards those who make the effort to get there with remote slot canyons and stunning rock formations. The Green and Colorado rivers set the scene for relaxing rafting trips.
If you are pressed for time, you can see the park’s highlights in a day—or even as little as half a day—on a tour from Moab. A more leisurely schedule enables you to see the park as part of a multi-day tour from Las Vegas or Salt Lake City through a star-studded lineup of Arizona and Utah parks: Zion, Bryce Canyon, Monument Valley, Capitol Reef, Arches, and the Grand Canyon.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Canyonlands National Park is a must-visit for adventure travelers and families.
- Don’t forget to bring water and sun protection; the desert heat can be intense.
- Wear comfortable shoes suitable for walking over uneven surfaces.
- Dress in layers; the temperature can fluctuate wildly in a single day.
- Wheelchair users can access the Island in the Sky and Needles visitor centers and several overlooks.
How to Get There
Canyonlands National Park’s Islands in the Sky district is about 30 miles (48 kilometers) southwest of Moab, about 40 minutes via UT 313. The easiest way to get there is to drive or join a guided tour from Moab.
When to Get There
The best times to visit Canyonlands National Park are spring (April and May) and fall (September and October), when daytime highs are typically 60°F to 80°F (15°C to 26°C). Expect temperatures over 100°F (37°C) during the summer months.
Situated in its own area of the park, Horseshoe Canyon was added to Canyonlands National Park in 1971. It’s best known for the Great Gallery, a panel of life-sized carvings considered among the most important collections of rock art in North America. The rewarding hike to the Great Gallery covers 7 miles (11 kilometers) roundtrip and takes at least five hours to complete.