Canyonlands National Park

Ringing in at over 520 square miles, Canyonlands is the largest of Utah’s five national parks, and doubtless one of the most stunning. Known for its sweeping vistas of colorful desert landscapes carved by rivers into countless canyons, Canyonlands National Park draws thousands of visitors each year both with its views and its endless outdoor recreational opportunities.

The park is divided into four distinct areas, each offering a unique perspective on this stark desert ecosystem. Island in the Sky is a flat-topped mesa, while the Needles are tall, sharp spires; the Maze is a seemingly-endless system of crevasses and canyons, and finally, visitors can see where the Colorado and Green rivers intersect at the Colorado Plateau. The park also boasts some original Native American rock paintings inside its iconic Horseshoe Canyon.

Like its neighbor Arches to the north, Canyonlands is served by the small, but busy gateway city of Moab, Utah, where visitors can enjoy a variety of restaurants, shopping opportunities, museums, and cultural events. Other small towns in the Canyonlands area include Monticello and Spanish Valley.

The weather at Canyonlands is characterized by the wide temperature fluctuations of a high desert environment; the area sometimes sees temperatures change by more than 40 F in one day. The summer is excruciatingly hot and prone to sudden afternoon thunderstorms, while the spring and fall bring temperate climates -- and crowds.

With its singular landscape, Canyonlands offers unparallelled outdoor adventure opportunities, both terrestrial and on water. Visitors can enjoy the park on foot, horseback, or bicycle, or take to its two formative rivers for both flat- and whitewater boating. The Park Service also hosts a number of organized, ranger-led activities, such as geological talks and stargazing parties. Check the official park calendar for up-to-date information on these opportunities.

What is today known as Canyonlands National Park is the ancestral land of Indigenous peoples including the Ute, Southern Paiute, and Pueblo peoples.   The Indigenous story of Canyonlands begins long before European men named it such — indeed, before they ever set foot in this jaw-dropping desert. Learn about the history of Canyonlands here.

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Weather
Spring 60-70 F
Summer 85-95 F
Fall 60-70 F
Winter 40-50 F
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Nearby Cities
Moab, UT
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RV Resorts & Campsites in Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands features two on-site campgrounds, which are accessible and open to RV camping. However, neither campground has RV hookups, and both have a tendency to fill up fast.

Fortunately, campers can also choose from a wide array of privately-owned RV parks and campgrounds in this popular travel area, as well as a number of free or low-cost dispersed camping or boondocking options.

For more information on camping in and around Canyonlands National Park, click here.

RV Rentals Near Canyonlands National Park

Nearby RV Rentals

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Hit the Trails

No matter your fitness level or which part of the park you’re in, you’ll find miles and miles of hiking trails beckoning you to wander.

As in any hiking scenario, all members of your group should be outfitted with sturdy shoes, protective clothing, and an ample supply of water. Given Canyonlands’ desert environment, hats and sunglasses are recommended, as is sunscreen and an early start.

Below, find a few of our favorite Canyonlands trails in both the Island in the Sky and Needles districts. For complete details on hiking opportunities in Canyonlands, including information about backpacking and backcountry camping, click here.

Canyonlands National Park Island in the Sky Trails

Grand View Point

Distance: 2 miles

Terrain: An easy stroll along the canyon rim to the end of the Island in the Sky mesa. Some of the best panoramas in the park.

Mesa Arch

Distance: 0.5-mile loop

Terrain: If you want to see a stunning sunrise, head to this short trail before dawn. Flat, easy, and leads to a unique sandstone arch situated on a cliff edge.

Upheaval Dome

Distance: 1.5 miles

Terrain: Follow this easy-to-moderate trail to a unique and mysterious crater, possible caused by meteorite impact.

Syncline Loop

Distance: 7.1-mile loop

Terrain: This lengthy and strenuous trek sees about 1,500 feet of elevation change and should not be attempted in the extreme heat of July and August. The trail requires route-finding, climbing, and scrambling through boulder fields -- but if you’re up to the challenge, the views are rewarding.

Canyonlands National Park The Needles Trails

Cave Springs

Distance: 0.6-mile loop

Terrain: An easy-to-moderate trail which doesn’t see much elevation change, but does require hikers to climb two ladders. View a historic cowboy camp and prehistoric petroglyphs.

Chesler Park Loop

Distance: 11-mile lollipop loop

Terrain: A moderate-to-strenuous journey through desert grasslands and deep, narrow fractures. There is no water available on this exposure-heavy trail, so bring more than you think you’ll need.

Druid Arch

Distance: 11 miles

Terrain: This strenuous trail involves ladder-climbing and rock-scrambling, but rewards explorers with some of the most stunning views in the park. The bottom of the canyon is sandy, so be prepared to dump your boots!

Roadside Ruin

Distance: This quick and easy ten-minute stop features an ancestral Puebloan granary

Terrain: 0.2-mile loop

Restaurants

What to Do at
Canyonlands National Park

Thanks to its location between two of Utah’s most commonly-visited national parks, the small town of Moab is a bustling center of culture, cuisine, and activities. If you find yourself in need of a non-park adventure, here’s where to head for the best eats, drinks, and diversions.

Restaurants

Whether you’re just in need of a quick snack stop or dying for an excuse to get all dolled up, you’ll find what you’re looking for at the following Moab restaurants.

Desert Bistro

Type: This upscale, date-night dinner joint features a hand-selected wine list paired with elevated fare. Opens nightly at 5 p.m.; reservations are taken (and recommended).

Eklecticafe and Collectibles

Type: For a hearty-but-healthy breakfast or an indulgent, vegan sweet treat, don’t miss this quirky Moab coffee and gift shop.

Pasta Jay’s

Type: Gotta have a pizza -- or a heaping plate of pasta? This small Italian franchise is a western favorite. Buon appetito!

Quesadilla Mobilla

Type: This popular food truck only does one thing, but they do it extremely well. Stop by to check out their rotating list of homemade quesadillas. Don’t forget a side of chips and guac!

Spitfire Smokehouse

Type: You may be in the Utah desert, but once you step foot inside this barbecue joint, it’s North Carolina all the way. Open Wednesday through Sunday from 4-9 p.m. for dinner, before moving inside Woody’s Tavern to serve a limited late-night menu.

Susie’s Branding Iron

Type: If you want an authentic taste of Utah, head to this down-home watering hole for house-made fry bread, hand-cut steaks, and world-class barbecue.

Yummytown Food Truck

Type: It may just be a small food truck, but this joint packs a powerful punch if you’re in the mood for Mediterranean.

Shopping

Need a gift for mom… or for you? Or maybe all those trails mean it’s time for a new set of hikers?

No matter what you’re after, you can find it at one of the following Canyonlands-area vendors.

Museums

Yes, learning can be fun -- and it can also be a great way to spend a rainy day (or wait out that post-hike soreness)!

Here are the best museums and cultural attractions in the Canyonlands National Park area.

Sightseeing

You could easily spend a lifetime exploring Canyonlands alone -- but there’s so much more to see and do in this rugged landscape. Here are just a few suggestions.

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How to Get to
Canyonlands National Park

The two main districts of Canyonlands, Island in the Sky and the Needles, must be accessed separately; there are no bridges or roads connecting them within the park.

By Car

To access Island in the Sky (the northern part of Canyonlands), take US 191 north of Moab to UT 313. To access the Needles (the southern part of Canyonlands), take US 191 south of Moab to UT 211. Do not rely on a GPS, which can be unreliable in these remote desert landscapes. Instead, invest in a map.


By plane

The closest large airfield to Canyonlands is Salt Lake City, but smaller airports exist in Grand Junction, Colorado (Grand Junction Regional) and just outside Moab itself (Canyonlands Field). Amtrak trains also stop in Grand Junction, Colorado and Green River, Utah, which are both within a two-hour drive of the park.

By RV

Traveling in an RV is one of the most comfortable and convenient ways to stay, allowing you to camp on-site and move between different park districts at your leisure. If you don’t have a motorhome or travel trailer of your own, check out the RV listings in your area -- or in the Canyonlands vicinity, if you’d rather fly in and rent locally.

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Entering Canyonlands National Park

The National Park Service does charge visitors a fee to enter Canyonlands, but your admission is good for seven days. Plus, you can rest assured that your money is used to improve and maintain park facilities and interpretive services.

Here are the latest park entry fees for Canyonlands National Park:

Canyonlands National Park Private Vehicle : $30.0

Private, non-commercial vehicles (15 passenger capacity or less) and all occupants.

Canyonlands National Park Motorcycle : $25.0

One or two passengers on a private, non-commercial motorcycle.

Canyonlands National Park Per Person : $15.0

One individual with no car (bicyclist, hiker, pedestrian). Youth 15 and under are admitted for free.

You might also consider purchasing a $55 Southeast Utah Parks Pass, which gains you a year’s access to both Arches and Canyonlands as well as Hovenweep and Natural Bridges National Monuments, or the $80 America the Beautiful Pass, which covers more than 2,000 federal recreation sites nationwide.

We’re so excited to learn more about your trip to the dramatic Utah desert! Tag us in your Instagram and Facebook posts or send us those drool-worthy photos and details directly at [email protected]. Who knows? You may just see your story on our blog or social media channels!