Proudly claiming the name of the largest National Park in Utah at a whopping 337,598 acres of stunning mesas, buttes, arches, canyons, and spires, Canyonlands National Park is a place you won't soon forget. The Colorado and Green Rivers weave their way through the red stone, creating an enchanting red and green landscape to explore through hiking, biking, off-roading, and more.
Where is Canyonlands National Park?
This majestic park is located in the southeastern part of Utah, just west of adventurous Moab
and picturesque Spanish Valley, Utah
. Our vacation rentals near here are in a prime spot, with Arches National Park just 26 miles northeast
, and spectacular Dead Horse Point State Park just east of Canyonland's Island in the Sky.
Entrances to Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands is made up of four separate districts, each one accessible from a different road, so be sure to plan your trip carefully, as you won't be able to make your way from one district to the next inside the park. Island in the Sky (about 30 miles from Moab) is the most popular of the four and can be reached by taking US 191 north of Moab to US 313. The Needles is the second most popular destination in the park, but it is much farther south (about 70 miles from Moab). Take US 191 south to US 211, which will take you into the park.
The last two districts, the Maze and the Rivers, are very remote and not often visited unless you're prepared for a multi-day backpacking or river-rafting trip. Only unpaved roads lead into The Maze, and some may even be impassable when it's wet. You'll also definitely need a four-wheel drive vehicle with high clearance.
There are a few different pass options to get into the park. If you're in the area for multiple days and plan on visiting the park and/or Arches National Park during that time, it may be best to grab a Local Passport vehicle pass for $25, which grants you access to Canyonlands, Arches, Natural Bridges, and Hovenweep for up to one year. However, a seven-day pass for just Canyonlands is also available for just $10.
Things to Do in Canyonlands National Park
From scenic drives to bumping along rocky dirt roads on a bike, there's something everyone will love within the bounds of Canyonlands. Hiking is easily the most popular activity, with numerous trails for all ages and abilities leading to breath-taking views. Some popular hikes within Island in the Sky include the easier Mesa Arch, White Rim Overlook, and Grand View Point, as well as moderate hikes like Whale Rock and Aztec Butte.
If you're heading into The Needles, try some easier trails such as Pothole Point and Slickrock, or something more difficult like Lower Red Lake Canyon and the picturesque Confluence Overlook. Although many of our wonderful Utah vacation rentals allow dogs, please note that animals are not allowed on the hiking trails inside Canyonlands National Park.
If hiking isn't your forté, there are still plenty of absolutely awe-inspiring sights to be seen from overlooks, or even from the window of your car. Island in the Sky boasts a fantastic 34-mile roundtrip route set over 1,000 feet above the canyon floor. Once you make it to the namesake, you'll enjoy views that literally look like you're atop an island in the clouds at over 1,500 feet above the rest of the park. The Needles district has a nice, short 6.5 miles drive ending at Big Spring Canyon Overlook, and for a better view of the jagged spires aptly named The Needles, head to Elephant Hill.
There are literally hundreds of miles of trails waiting to be ridden, so if mountain biking is something you love, be sure to pack your bicycle and try the famous 100-mile White Rim Road or any of the paved roads within Island in the Sky and The Needles districts. And don't forget about rafting on the raging rivers! Keep in mind that permits are required for any boating adventures, but if you book with a local touring company, they should have all the information you need.
Whether you're spending days or just a few hours inside Canyonlands National Park, you can explore this region of Southern Utah
as hard as you want, knowing you have a soft bed to return to in your vacation rental nearby.
Photo Credit: Dave Hensley via Flickr