The journey from Fort Collins to Canyonlands National Park is a trip from the highest mountain range in the country to the largest desert. Travelers are greeted with impressive views of some of the most colorful land in the U.S. When they reach Canyonlands National Park, they find the largest of Utah's national parks and the most stunning. Known for its desert landscapes carved by rivers into thousands of canyons, Canyonlands offers miles of trails and streams full of fish. While traveling there from Fort Collins, visitors pass through cities with colorful histories, state parks where a brief rest is welcomed, and national forests that preserve the land as it was discovered. To experience it all, follow this road trip itinerary from Fort Collins to Canyonlands National Park.
Rocky Mountain National Park
The entrance near Estes Park to Rocky Mountain National Park is only 41 miles into the Fort Collins to Canyonlands National Park RV road trip. The 265,461-acre park is one of the highest in the country, with a low elevation at 7,550 feet and a high elevation over 14,500 feet. There are 20 peaks in the park that register above 12,000 feet. Hiking trails and tumbling streams make the park an angler's dream. Hikers, bikers, and horseback riders find the views at the hundreds of overlooks to be amazing.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
To reach the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park from Fort Collins, travel 363 miles southwest through Grand Junction. The 30,385-acre park includes 12 miles of deep canyons carved by the Gunnison River through some of the hardest granite in the region. Overlooks provide stunning views for hikers, bikers, and horseback riders who travel the park's trails. Those who venture to the canyon floor find excellent fishing for bass, catfish, and several trout species.
Arches National Park
Located immediately north of Moab, UT, Arches National Park features over 2,000 arches created by geological forces and designed by eroding water and winds. Visitors flock to this park by the thousands each year to see the wide lands and the distinctive arches. The park is far from any large urban area, so light pollution is minimal, making stargazing an exciting addition for those who spend the night. While some motorized vehicles are allowed in the area, their use is restricted to specific roadways. Even passing airplanes are directed around the park's airspace to avoid any vibrations that may harm one of the delicate arches.
Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef National Park lies 156 miles west of Canyonlands National Park. The park is filled with domes, bridges, canyons, cliffs, and many other desert phenomena that those who watched westerns from the 1950s will recognize. The orchards that early settlers planted along the water sources within this park still produce apples, cherries, peaches, apricots, plums, and mulberries. Hiking and biking trails run through canyons and alongside cliffs. Colorful chimneys reach for the sky providing picturesque backgrounds for photos.
Boyd Lake State Park
Boyd Lake State Park sits 16 miles south of Fort Collins. It is a favorite weekend gathering spot for locals and includes a lake where trout, bass, and crappie are stocked each year. The fishing is excellent. Hiking trails run through the park and around the lake. A boat launch is available, and a designated swimming beach is a safe place to take a summer dip. The horizon is dotted with over 200 hundred peaks, creating an amazing view in every direction.
Highline State Park
Highline State Park sits 18 miles southeast of Grand Junction—about 320 miles into your road trip from Fort Collins to Canyonlands National Park. It is the perfect place to camp and explore what the Grand Junction area has to offer. Situated next to a 160-acre lake, the park provides excellent angling opportunities. Mountain bikers use the trails that run up and down the sides of the mountains in the park as a training ground.
Dead Horse Point State Park
Dead Horse Point State Park covers more than 5,300 acres of stunning desert between Moab and the Canyonlands National Park. Noted for its great horseshoe bend in the Verde River, the park is an ideal spot to camp and explore Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park. Millennia of river erosion have created a park with vertical cliffs and deep canyons. The Verde River is rich with fish for enterprising anglers. Trails run along the hillsides above the river and around the entire park presenting incredible views from different angles.
Fort Collins Museum of Discovery
The Fort Collins Museum of Discovery focuses on the interactions between humans and science. The museum uses modern interactive techniques to pique the interest of children and adults in every kind of natural phenomenon that the world presents. If you are interested in sound, discover how a guitar or piano works. If you are interested in sound created by electrical means, discover the secrets behind electrical instruments.
Molly Brown House
In Denver, the Molly Brown House displays the life and times of Margaret "Molly" Tobin Brown from her birth until her death in 1932. An energetic philanthropist and traveler, The Unsinkable Molly Brown influenced the lives of everyone she touched. The furniture in the Molly Brown House is the same as she used during her lifetime. Many of the artifacts are evidence of her travels to exotic places like Egypt and France.
Museum of the West
The Museum of the West in Grand Junction, CO, offers visitors the chance to experience a thousand years of history. Dedicated to the display of and education on archeological items uncovered during digs in the area, the museum covers everything from Anasazi bowls and Ute ladles to stagecoaches and railroad cars. Virtual exhibits let guests experience riding in a stagecoach or flying a Cessna over Grand Junction and into the mountains.
Denver is 64 miles into your Fort Collins to Canyonlands National Park road trip. It is one of a few gold rush towns that grew to become a major city. The town began with five prospectors who discovered precious minerals. Within five years, it evolved from a town into a city of over 50,000 people. Today, Denver is the largest city in Colorado and the 19th largest in the country. The town has a diverse population, which creates a mad mix of restaurants and shops with flavors from Asian, Mexican, European, and Mediterranean influences. While you are here, take advantage of its dump stations or stay a night at one of the campgrounds in the area.
Grand Junction, Colorado
As is evidenced by its name, Grand Junction has always been a waystation for those crossing the lowest passes through the Rocky Mountains. Native American tribes like the migratory Fremont and Ute visited the area for thousands of years. In 1881, settlers began to appear and began farming the region. Today, the colorful cliffs and buttes surrounding the community attract visitors from across the country. The town acts as an intersection to traffic traveling east to see the Rocky Mountain National Park, south to visit the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, and west to comb through the national parks in Utah. Visitors often take advantage of the dump stations and campgrounds that Grand Junction offers before moving on to their destination.
Moab is the gateway to the Utah national parks. The land is full of incredible scenery, no matter which way you turn. In Moab, visitors find businesses that rent high-clearance vehicles to explore the state and national parks surrounding them. Restaurants like the Quesadilla Mobilla and Desert Bistro are designed for visitors in a hurry to get into the desert that surrounds them. While you are in the city, take the time to clean your tanks at one of the local dump stations. To stay a night or two, register at one of the many campgrounds in the area.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from Fort Collins to Canyonlands National Park, you will enjoy historic locations and beautiful scenery along the way. If you want to travel in comfort and style, consider an RV rental from RVshare. From large motorhomes to compact campervans, there is a rig that will meet your travel and budget needs. Once you hit the road, you are protected by our renter guarantee and 24/7 roadside assistance. Find the perfect vehicle for your travel needs in Fort Collins or Canyonlands National Park.