18 Fun & Best Things to Do in Canyonlands National Park

18 Fun & Best Things to Do in Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park is a large canyon area of Utah divided into 4 districts the place the Green and Colorado rivers converge. Visitors exploring the nationwide park can expertise mountaineering to overlooks, tenting, 4x4ing, picnicking, whitewater rafting, helicopter excursions, and far more. Whatever you select to do in its borders, Canyonlands National Park is a must-visit as a result of it presents a lifetime of exploration potentialities and distinctive experiences. 

From the second you enter the park, you might be welcomed by a large wilderness and pure parts that are at present divided into 4 components: Island within the Sky, The Maze, The Needles, and the Colorado and Green rivers.

When standing at any of the park’s numerous overlooks, you’ll see miles of colourful panorama, which is residence to canyons, arches, mesas, and buttes that have been carved by the Colorado River.

Canyonlands National Park is a hidden gem and regardless of being Utah’s largest nationwide park, the principle purpose why many individuals go to the park is for the breathtaking arches, panorama views, and scenic drives. Below, we’ve put collectively among the enjoyable and finest issues to do in Canyonlands National Park.


  • Best general mountaineering path – Aztec Butte Trail
  • Best exercise for youths – Cave Spring Trail and Pothole Point
  • Best exercise for adults – 4×4 Adventure Tour
  • Best sundown views – Mesa Arch
  • Best place for a picnic – White Rim Overlook
  • Best space for tenting – The Needles
  • Best all-around lodging – Homewood Suites by Hilton Moab

Fun & Best Things to Do in Canyonlands National Park

1. The Needles District

Stormy Sky over Needles District Canyonlands National Park

Kris Wiktor / Shutterstock

The Needles District is nestled within the park’s southeast nook and derives its title from the colourful spires of Cedar Mesa Sandstone that dominate the world. This park space has winding hiking trails spanning over 60 miles, providing loads of alternatives to see superb landscapes and expertise in a single day journeys on the campground.

Both foot trails and four-wheel-drive roads present entry to park options, together with the Tower Ruin, Confluence Overlook, Chesler Park, Joint Trail, and Elephant Hill. 

Additional data is offered from the Needles District Visitor Center, which is open each day from spring by means of fall. The heart, run by the National Park Service, has reveals, backcountry permits, picnic areas, common data, and e book and map gross sales for planning scenic drives. Park rangers are additionally on responsibility throughout these months. 

Those can partake in numerous Ranger-led programs on most nights from March by means of October on the campground. But, in the event you’d choose to discover by yourself, we advocate a self-guided driving tour of the park, which incorporates instructions and a cease at The Needles.

See Related: Best & Fun Things to Do in Ogden, Utah

2. The Maze

The Maze, Canyonlands National Park aerial view
Clint Clawdus / Shutterstock

If you might be on the lookout for an journey, take into account including The Maze to your listing of issues to do when visiting the park. Unfortunately, this space is among the least accessible districts as a result of it is extremely distant. 

Adventurers desirous to discover and expertise the marvel of The Maze want at the very least three days to discover, whereas some declare to have the ability to spend greater than every week experiencing the magnificence of this park space. 

The Hans Flat Ranger Station on this space is open year-round, and there’s a small space the place you should buy books and maps. Guided hiking tours run by the National Park Service are additionally out there most weekends throughout the spring and fall from the ranger station. 

The Maze is accessible by foot or four-wheel-drive trails, and it’s extremely beneficial to deliver a map as a result of GPS units typically fail and might lead you astray.

Editor’s word: There are no providers, meals, gasoline, or potable water sources in The Maze.

3. Colorado and Green Rivers

Lush green grasses surrouning Green river, Canyonlands National Park
TSchofield / Adobe Stock

The Colorado and Green rivers created a lot of the Canyonlands National Park as they wound their manner by means of the world, cuddling deep into the layered sandstone. The areas alongside the rivers are vivid, inexperienced, shady, and vigorous, making them good for exploring and experiencing numerous watersports, together with whitewater rafting, kayaking, and canoeing. 

The rivers aren’t simply accessible, however in the event you don’t thoughts a little bit of a hike, you possibly can benefit from the rivers beginning on the Confluence or in Cataract Canyon. Cataract Canyon is among the most visited areas of the park amongst boaters and whitewater rafters.

Most guests sometimes launch their boats onto the Colorado River from the Potash or Moab ramps and make their manner through the water to the rest of the park. 

Several excursions can be found alongside the Green River, however among the extra extremely beneficial excursions are alongside the mighty Colorado River. Enjoy a Colorado River guided boat tour throughout a 3-Hour Jet Boat Tour to Dead Horse Point State Park.

But in the event you choose a extra adventurous expertise alongside the Colorado River, then we advocate this Canyonlands 4×4 Drive and Colorado River Rafting tour for a extra thrilling expertise.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Salt Lake City, Utah

4. Island within the Sky

Male tourist walking along the rim at the Holeman Spring Canyon Overlook in the Island in the sky, Utah
Martina / Adobe Stock

Island within the Sky is a mesa with sheer sandstone cliffs rising greater than 1,000 toes above the encircling panorama. Every overlook on this park space offers spectacular views and a novel perspective. This area of the nationwide park is among the best accessible areas and is ideal for these trying to expertise the park for a short while. Hiking trails and four-wheel-drive roads can be found for guests wanting extra of a backcountry expertise. 

The Island in the Sky Visitor Center is open year-round, with restricted winter operation days, that includes backcountry permits, a picnic space, wi-fi web, reveals, books, and maps on the market, and park rangers on responsibility. Ranger-led applications are additionally out there, sharing details about the pure and cultural assets of this park. 

Camping is offered on the Island within the Sky Campground (Willow Flat), which is open year-round with easy accessibility to the Green River Overlook. The campground offers guests with entry to bogs, hearth rings, and picnic tables; nevertheless, there is no such thing as a water out there, which is offered close by on the customer heart. 

If you’re on the lookout for the most effective issues to do in Canyonlands National Park, I can advocate this highly-rated and common Canyonlands National Park Half-Day Tour from Moab. The tour takes guests by means of the most well-liked locations within the park, together with the Island within the Sky space.

5. Grand View Point Overlook and Trail

View from Grand View Point Overlook at sunset in Canyonlands National Park
VIKVAD / Shutterstock

The hike to the Grand View Point Overlook is ideal for first-time guests and people wanting a straightforward hike to entry the fabulous views of the panorama. Once you arrive on the Grand View Point Overlook, you can be in awe of the attractive vistas with attractive purple rock formations set within the excessive desert terrain. 

Because the mountaineering path is pretty straightforward, that is additionally the right mountaineering expertise for households and permits youngsters to get out of the car, burn off some power, and hike to a fantastic overlook.

Grand View Point Road additionally results in the Shafer Trail Viewpoint, the place you possibly can cease for a bit and discover whereas taking a scenic drive within the northern a part of the park. Experience mountaineering to the Grand View Point Overlook and different fabulous areas all through the park by taking this immersive Canyonlands National Park all-day hiking experience.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Orem, Utah

6. Horseshoe Canyon

If you need to see among the most vital rock artwork in North America, take time to discover Horseshoe Canyon, which incorporates The Great Gallery. This space is well-preserved, with life-sized figures made utilizing intricate designs. This park space can be the place to go for spectacular views of spring wildflowers, mature cottonwood groves, and sheer sandstone partitions nestled alongside a stream on the canyon’s backside. 

Hiking by means of the Horseshoe Canyon ranges from straightforward to difficult, and it’s best to be ready to stroll over uneven terrain and a few steep rocky areas. The hike by means of this space is about seven miles roundtrip, and Ranger-led hiking programs can be found within the spring and fall. The trails don’t enable canines, however horses, mules, and burros are permitted. 

After an extended day of exploring, head again to your resort in close by Moab. Homewood Suites by Hilton Moab presents an amazing place to chill out and regain power earlier than one other day of exploring the park.

7. White Rim Road

Views of Canyonlands National Park along the White Rim Road.
Oscity / Shutterstock

White Rim Road presents a backcountry expertise when biking or driving by means of the park. This 100-mile highway loops round Cataract Canyon and under the Island within the Sky mesa high and presents explorers wide-ranging and superior views of the world. 

A high-clearance car with four-wheel drive is finest for navigating this highway. Before exploring White Rim Road, verify the climate and with the NPS ranger station as a result of typically the highway is underwater, which makes it inconceivable to expertise the complete loop. Permits are required to discover this space and keep in a single day alongside the White Rim.

Permits can be found at customer facilities all through the park or could be bought on-line the day earlier than your arrival. Driving alongside White Rim Road is included on this common Canyonlands National Park backcountry 4×4 adventure from Moab.

See Related: Best Hot Springs in Utah & Resorts to Visit

8. Gooseberry Trail

Gooseberry Trail in Canyonlands National Park
Bram / Adobe Stock

Gooseberry Trail is just not for everybody, however in case you are up for the steep, rocky climb, then you possibly can observe this path to unbelievable views of the world. If you might be up for a rigorous hike and aren’t afraid of heights, that is the mountaineering expertise you need to take pleasure in. 

The path is brief, so it doesn’t take an excessive amount of time, but it surely nonetheless manages to take you to breathtaking viewpoints alongside the higher rim of the canyon. This hike is among the many most rewarding and ideal for many who need to get again to see the remainder of Canyonlands National Park. 

Staying on the Hyatt Place Moab locations you about an hour from the park, offering you the right place to remain, chill out, and have easy accessibility to return to the park to discover the varied trails, together with Gooseberry Trail.

9. Murphy Trail Loop

Hiking the murphy trail loop in the island in the sky in canyonlands national park in the USA
cb_travel / Shutterstock

The Murphy Trail Loop is a implausible full-day hike atop the Murphy Hogback and White Rim Road. The terrain could be tough and has a variety of up-and-down rocky hills, however it’s well worth the expertise in the event you can endure the hike. Hiking the Murphy Trail Loop is taken into account by many as the most effective issues to do in Canyonlands National Park and you’ll hike to the Buck Canyon Overlook or to the Murphy Hogback Campground.

Exploring the Murphy Loop Trail is ideal for somebody on the lookout for only a brief stroll or to go mountain biking. Though this is among the harder trails within the nationwide park, you’ll have a blast mountaineering to a distant space and having fun with the surroundings. Don’t overlook to deliver loads of water with you as a result of no water is offered till you get again to one of many customer facilities in different areas of the park.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Hurricane, Utah

10. Wilhite Trail

The Wilhite Trail is a primitive path with steep switchbacks dropping 1,600 toes into an extended, sandy wash, which you’ll be able to observe to the White Rim Road. The path is one other strenuous one that may get tough and uneven, requiring strolling up and down rocky hills and stone steps.

During the winter, this path can get slippery and expertise snowy and icy situations, so it is suggested to put on the required traction units when mountaineering. 

As one of many more difficult trails and issues to do in Canyonlands National Park, you can be rewarded by the spectacular views of the world and the scenic drive it takes to get there. Do not miss out on this mountaineering expertise that begins at Upheaval Dome Road and continues down towards the Green River, offering panoramic views of the Holeman Spring Basin and the Upper West Basin.

11. Alcove Spring Trail

Alcove Spring Trail begins a bit strenuous, however loads of steps are put in to assist make mountaineering down and climbing again as much as the Island within the Sky simpler. Plus, the final 4 miles of the path are very straightforward “wash strolling.” 

This hike is among the extra spectacular hikes taking you alongside huge cliffs, overlooking an amphitheater-like alcove. The final mile has essentially the most spectacular view, the place you possibly can see the spires referred to as Zeus and Moses on the north horizon. 

See Related: Best Day Trips from Salt Lake City, Utah

12. Syncline Loop Trail

Rock Formation Above The Junction of Upheaval Canyon and Syncline Loop Trails
kellyvandellen / Adobe Stock

Explore the canyons round Upheaval Dome as you navigate steep switchbacks and climb by means of boulder fields alongside the Syncline Loop Trail.

The Syncline Loop Trail is among the most difficult trails within the space, so earlier than heading out to this path, be sure you can bodily make the trek and have all of your provides packed. This mountaineering path is extra for the avid hiker and doesn’t essentially present spectacular views across the Upheaval Dome space. But, in case you are up for it, it’s a rewarding hike that winds by means of numerous terrain, together with rock, stone, dust, and unfastened sand. 

When on the lookout for a spot to remain close to Canyonlands National Park, we advocate staying at Hoodoo Moab and making it your base of operations throughout your trip.

13. White Rim Overlook

The hike to the White Rim Overlook is much like that of the one at Grand View Point however is much less difficult and doesn’t have steep drops. The east-facing overlook offers implausible views of the Colorado River, the La Sal Mountains, and the Monument Basin.

This hike is finest loved within the afternoon, simply earlier than the solar units. A preferred tour is the Arches and Canyonlands 4X4 Adventure from Moab, which features a cease on the White Rim Overlook.

14. Chesler Park

Trail in Chesler Park, Canyonlands National Park
Danita Delimont / Shutterstock

Chesler Park is a big round meadow surrounded by the tallest rocks within the space, displaying the magnificent purple and white colours of the Cedar Mesa Sandstone discovered all through the national park. Chesler Park could be reached by mountaineering just a few miles alongside one among many trails. The shortest path to this park is from Squaw Flat Campground, which may get hikers to the elevated viewpoint of the sting of the park in about 2.6 miles. 

Hiking is finest loved throughout cooler occasions of the 12 months as a result of it may be difficult with little shade out there throughout the summer time months. Multi-day mountaineering experiences can be found by getting permits from the National Park Service and can be found at a number of areas of Chesler Park, particularly alongside the japanese edge. 

See Related: Best National Parks to Visit in November

15. Mesa Arch

Sunrise at Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park near Moab
Frédéric Prochasson / Adobe Stock

If you might be touring with babies or are a novice hiker, mountaineering to the Mesa Arch is a good alternative when visiting the Island within the Sky space. Mesa Arch is among the most iconic views within the park, and it’s straightforward to get to through a brief mountaineering path. Plus, the sunsets on the Mesa Arch are spectacular and a must-see when visiting the nationwide park. 

Once you’ve made the half-mile trek, you’ll have views of the arch, which is nestled on a 500-foot cliff, offering a keyhole view of White Rim by means of the arch. Be cautious when mountaineering close to the arch as a result of there is no such thing as a fence to forestall a fall. 

When admiring the Mesa Arch, you possibly can see the Green River off within the distant background, which presents many alternatives to take breathtaking images. This half-day sunset scenic tour of Canyonlands and Dead Horse State Park features a cease on the Mesa Arch, the place you possibly can benefit from the implausible sundown views.

16. Whale Rock

Whale Rock in Canyonlands National Park in Utah, United States
Sceninc Media / Adobe Stock

Set inside the Island within the Sky space, Whale Rock is among the extra enjoyable buildings on the park to climb, with handrails that can assist you attain the highest of the rounded, eroded sandstone fin. Though there are handrails, many individuals take pleasure in free-climbing the rock and making it to the highest. 

When you climb to the highest of the rock, you can be impressed by the implausible views of the Upheaval Dome. Plus, from above, many say this rock resembles a beached whale in the course of the arid panorama. 

17. Aztec Butte Trail

Aztec Butte Trail in Canyonlands National Park
Sceninc Media / Adobe Stock

The Aztec Butte Trail is a average mountaineering expertise on the park with a grade that does steepen and turns into slim because it ascends alongside the ledges towards the highest of the butte. Steep rock and a tall ledge are close to the highest, requiring you to sort out them earlier than accessing the implausible view. 

If you aren’t an skilled hiker or are afraid of heights, mountaineering the Aztec Butte Trail could also be difficult. However, when you attain the highest of the butte, you’ll have a novel birds-eye view of the purple rock canyons and the Abajo Mountains. When mountaineering the Aztec Butte Trail, don’t enter any ruins or granaries nestled within the sandstone alcoves under the rim, and please don’t contact the delicate partitions as you hike by. 

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Moab, Utah

18. Upheaval Dome

Upheaval dome crater in Canyonlands National Park in USA
picturist / Adobe Stock

If you need to discover and expertise one of the vital puzzling geological options in Canyonlands National Park’s Island within the Sky District, make your strategy to the Upheaval Dome. The hike to get to the overlooks on the dome is about 1.7 miles, and once you get to the highest, you can be overlooking a 1,000-foot-deep crater. 

Geologists have two theories about how the dome was created. The first is the new-fangled meteorite principle courting again 60 million years in the past, and the second is the extra conventional salt dome principle, which has the dome growing greater than 300 million years in the past.

Though scientists are extra satisfied now {that a} meteor created the Upheaval Dome, the salt dome principle continues to be a risk many consider in. Regardless of its origins, the Upheaval Dome is a implausible place to discover and a must-visit when exploring the nationwide park. If you’ve a picnic lunch, this can be a good spot to take a break from exploring and luxuriate in lunch looking on the implausible views. 

If you might be on the lookout for a novel journey when visiting the Canyonlands National Park, you’ll want to try this Canyonlands National Park airplane tour for superb views of the park, together with the Upheaval Dome.


How many days do I would like to go to Canyonlands National Park?

Most guests solely want at some point to discover the park, primarily if they’re sticking to solely visiting the overlooks and the shorter mountaineering trails. However, if you wish to expertise and discover the longer trails, take excursions, or discover the off-road trails, it’s possible you’ll choose to have two to 3 days on the park. 

When is the very best time of the 12 months to go to Canyonlands National Park? 

For essentially the most nice climate situations and to keep away from massive crowds, visiting Canyonlands National Park is finest throughout spring and fall. Weather situations could make visiting the park difficult, particularly throughout the winter months, although it’s far much less crowded this time of 12 months. On the opposite hand, the summer time can get extraordinarily sizzling, and guests flock to nationwide parks, equivalent to this one, making it very crowded and difficult to discover a parking spot. 

Is there meals out there in Canyonlands National Park? 

Unfortunately, no meals, lodging, or gasoline is offered inside the nationwide park. The nearest location for this stuff is about 32 miles from the Island within the Sky Visitor Center in Moab, Utah. 

What is the very best half to go to in Canyonlands National Park? 

Like with different nationwide parks, what you do when visiting Canyonlands National Park depends upon what pursuits you. Most individuals benefit from the Island within the Sky or The Needles, which supply shorter hikes, and implausible views, and are common amongst first-time guests and households. 

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