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Canyonlands National Park

  • 74Audio Points
  • LocationUtah, USA
  • Suggested TimeAllow 1+ Days
What to Expect

Canyonlands offers a vastly different experience even though it is only across the valley from the more famous Arches National Park. Starting in Moab, we travel to the Island in the Sky District exploring along Grand View Point Rd and Upheaval Dome Rd.

Enthusiastic photographers should get up early if they want to capture Canyonlands’ most famous image – sunrise through Mesa Arch.  If we start later in the day, arrange your time so you are still in the Park for a spectacular sunset.

Along the way we’ll examine perplexing elements at Upheaval Dome and how this has led to two different theories behind Utah’s “belly button”.

A view to the Merrimac and Monitor Buttes will have you imagining them as the American Civil War armor plated ships, or ironclads, that they resemble. Gaze down into the depths at Green River Outlook carved by the unrelenting Colorado and Green Rivers. 

Those fit and properly prepared should hike the Aztec Butte Trail to view ancestral Puebloan structures called granaries.

For those with limited mobility Canyonlands offers many easily accessible scenic viewpoints, and each one adds to understanding how this is an island in the sky.

Listen to the Tour Intro
Highlights
  • Aztec Butte
  • Grand View Point
  • Green River Overlook
  • Merrimac and Monitor Buttes
  • Mesa Arch
  • Upheaval Dome
Map

Suggested Start Location

Start in Moab. If arriving directly from the north, turn from 191 onto 313 to join the commentary on the way to Canyonlands Park entrance.

Suggested Time

Allow a minimum 1/2 day to a full day to enjoy the main sights along the drive and more time if you plan on hiking.

Driving Distance

Approx 75 miles return

Reviews
FAQ

CAN YOU DRIVE THROUGH CANYONLANDS?

Yes.  The 34 mile (round trip) Island in the Sky scenic drive provides easy access to viewpoints to gaze down into the ragged canyons. 

Other areas of the Park including Needles and The Maze are more remote or backcountry and require 4×4 vehicles and some technical experience.

HOW MUCH TIME DO I NEED?

Allow a minimum 1/2 day to a full day to enjoy the main sights along the drive and more time if you plan on hiking.

WHAT IS THE BEST TIME OF YEAR TO VISIT?

Visitation is high March – October, with Easter, Memorial Day and Labor Day the busiest.  Consider visiting in the Winter, taking advantage of off-season rates and generally milder sunny weather.

WHAT TIME SHOULD I ARRIVE IN THE PARK?

You’ll need to arrive early (before 9am) or late (after 2pm) in peak season to avoid the busiest time which can see the Parks gates shut down for traffic control.

You can also return at night to star gaze.  Certified as an official International Dark Sky Park, return at night to see the nigh sky full of stars.  Bring your binoculars or join a Stargazer Program with a ranger.

HOW ACCESSIBLE ARE THE PARKS - DO I NEED TO WALK FAR?

Both the Scenic Drive Loop in Arches and Island in the Sky road in Canyonlands, offer great viewing from the car.  Combined with short paved or gravel pathways to viewpoints, it makes for an enjoyable experience for those with physical or mobility issues.

 

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