Canyonlands National Park
The mighty Colorado and Green Rivers collide in the center of Canyonlands National Park to create the three stunning & unique park districts: Island In The Sky, Needles & The Maze.
Island In The Sky
"Overlooks rule at Island in the Sky – Once in Island in the Sky what we had read in our research was confirmed – the district is mainly centered around various overlooks from the high elevation of the “island” mesa top down into the canyons. Throughout our entire trip until this point we have advocated for people to go “beyond the overlooks” and tried to suggest creative ways to do that. But at Island in the Sky the numerous overlooks are where it’s at.
The most famous is Grand View Point, but our favorite by far was White Rim Overlook. It has a better all-surrounding view, it offers a closer look at the impressive Monument Basin and most importantly it has zero crowd. There were probably 30 people at Grand View when we went and when we stopped at White Rim right after we saw one other couple along the .8-mile one-way approach trail. The short trail and the fact that it’s an unnamed pull-off along the way might deter people. Grand View also has a 1-mile one-way trail that leads to a better view at the actual point, butcher out there it was still crowded and still not as cool as White Rim.
Our other top pick was Murphy Point, reached by a 1.8-mile one-way trail. We were mostly excited that we got to set up camp on the point and take advantage of what we felt was a true park secret. We reached the perfect sunset view on the point at 7:01, just in time for the 7:07 sunset according to my Garmin watch. Sadly we watched the sun just get swallowed by the dense rain clouds on the horizon. The sunset may not have been exactly as we imagined, but the solitude and wake-up vistas sure were." – Switchback Kids
Green River overlook is a great place to see broad vistas of The Maze below. Also, if you’re up for an easy .25 mile one-way hike you can catch a glimpse of one of the most photographed locations in the entire National Park System: Mesa Arch. Sunrise at Mesa Arch is a breathtaking experience that is hard to forget.
The Needles District has an extensive trail system that includes beautiful destinations like Elephant Hill, Chesler Park, Tower Ruin & The Confluence Overlook (which provides a great view of the Colorado and Green Rivers coming together). This is a Jeep’s playground. If you're looking for a great 4WD adventure, you’ll find it here.
No food, no potable water, no gasoline, no cell phone service, no mercy! The notorious Maze District lies West of the Green and Colorado Rivers. Utah truly becomes wild in the most remote district of the park, which also doubles as one of the most remote and difficult to reach sections of any national park in the lower 48. If you dare to venture into this wild and rugged portion of the park, make sure you’re prepared, because if you're not, The Maze will make sure you regret it. A “quick” visit to The Maze usually entails spending at least two nights under the stars.
Canyonlands National Park has a lot to offer to anyone willing to explore. From hiking and backpacking to 4WD and rafting adventures, there are countless ways to travel its rugged and diverse terrain. Horseback riding, stargazing, climbing, ranger-led programs, boating & camping are just a few of the things you can do to get a taste of what this national park is all about. Whatever you end up doing, you are sure to find the adventure or solitude you are seeking here at Canyonlands National Park.