- Allot at least two days for Canyonlands, there’s a lot to cover.
We made the mistake of fitting too much into one day and with Dead Horse Point Park in between, we were even more strapped for time. All of this beauty surrounds and is the result of two rivers: The Green River and The Colorado River. As a result, you will need to drive around the geology and water masses which can take hours. To give you an idea of time, a drive from Island in the Sky Visitors Center to The Needles Vistors Center takes two hours. Pair that up with driving from your hotel and back to it, that’s a lot of driving.
2. Google Offline Map your goals. This is a large park and it can take hours to get from one section of the park to another.
There are three sections of the park. Island in the Sky is the most accessible to standard vehicles and therefore the most popular. The Needles is still fairly accessible, though there are moments where a four wheeler would be preferable. The Maze is the third part of the park, and quite honestly, I would not brave that section unless you were ready to be completely independent and could survive in a remote area after driving many miles through unpaved roads. Service is a big question mark throughout the park, so download an offline map on your phone before you leave WiFi for this adventure.
3. Pop by Newspaper Rock State Historic Monument before immersing yourself into The Needles.
Though it is considered part of Canyonlands National Park, it’s a monument in itself and quite like the largest petroglyph I’ve seen IRL. Standing 200 feet tall, the petroglyph is a collection left by people from many different cultures spanning the Anasazi, Pueblo, Navajo and more. There are over 650 rock art designs that make up Newspaper Rock and it’d be shame to drive right past it before you enter Canyonlands’ The Needles Section.
4. If you have a thirst for adventure and the time to quench that thirst, invest your time in visiting the Druid Arch and the Confluence of the Colorado and Green River.
This is absolutely something I want to come back and do. After many hours of driving around the rivers, it was very clear that the most monumental moment of the park might possibly be when the two rivers meet. On the way is the most epic of arches (Druid Arch) that would make
5. Come prepared with food, water and any other amenities you may need for the day. This is one park where accessibility of shops and restaurants may not be as easy for you (aside from the occasional gas station, Moab fill up).
There are some parks that have fully stocked Visitors Centers with all the amenities. Perhaps it’s because of the pandemic or perhaps because this park literally has 3 sections where you can level up on intensity, but this is one to pack your cooler and backpack up for. Similar to my thoughts on Bryce National Park, Canyonlands is absolutely worth visiting.
Notably fun hikelets and overlooks we did in Island in the Sky were Whale Rock Trail, Green River Great Overlook, Grand View Point Overlook and Island in the Sky.