You’ll Love Visiting Canyonlands National Park

visiting canyonlands national park

Visiting Canyonlands National Park – Location

Canyonlands National Park is located near Moab, Utah. The park is in reasonably close proximity to Arches National Park and many people visit both parks in one day.

Keep in mind, that Canyonlands is divided into four sections, Island in the Sky, The Maze, The Needles, and The Rivers.

Canyonlands NP Map

Island in the Sky

Just 10 miles north of Moab, Island in the Sky is perfect for an easy drive through the park. While visiting Canyonlands National park there are many pull-outs where you can park, get out and take in the views. You’ll also find hiking trails and even some four-wheel-drive roads along the way.

The weather is unpredictable in the region. During our visit, there were storms in the distance all around but it never rained. 

Each different area of the park was so completely different from the last. 

Again we went late in the day so the crowds had dwindled and the light was good for taking photos. 

The colors are so vivid and the layers in the cliffs are sharp and clear from a great distance. 

This is the best section of the park for those with mobility issues who are visiting Canyonlands National Park. There are great views from the parking areas and there are places to hike if that’s your thing. 

The Needles

Located 40 miles south of Moab or 14 miles north of Monticello. The Needles was named for the colorful spires of cedar mesa sandstone that are prevalent in the area.

Camping is available in The Needles area at The Needles Campground. There are 29 spaces, including 2 ADA sites, but there are no hookups. Vault toilets and water are available at the campground. The maximum RV length is 28 feet.

There are over 60 miles of hiking trails in The Needles area. If you enjoy backcountry roads, there are over 50 miles to be explored in your four-wheel-drive vehicle.

The Maze

The Maze region is on the west side of the park and is extremely remote. Visiting this location will consume several days. The National Park Service states visitors must be self-sufficient and have the proper equipment and gear for self-rescue. There are no services available in The Maze.

You’ll enjoy challenging off-road drives and extremely difficult hikes in The Maze.

The Hans Flat Ranger Station is 2.5 hours from Green River, Utah. From I-70, take UT 24 south for 24 miles. A left-hand turn just beyond the turnoff to Goblin Valley State Park will take you along a two-wheel-drive dirt road 46 miles (76 km) southeast to the ranger station.

From the ranger station, the canyons of The Maze are another 3 to 6 hours by high-clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicle (more if traveling by foot). Another four-wheel-drive road leads into The Maze north from UT 95 near Hite Marina (driving time is 3+ hours to the park boundary).

National Park Service Website

Rivers

The Green and Colorado Rivers run through Canyonlands. These two rivers meet at The Confluence. Above The Confluence, the water is calm and great for water sports. Below The Confluence, you’ll find world-class whitewater.

The Confluence at Canyonlands National Park

Getting to the rivers is challenging. They are at the bottom of deep canyons and often obstructed from view. Local outfitters offer guided river trips of various lengths.

Green River
The Green River

Other activities include mountain biking, jet boat tours, whitewater rafting, 4WD tours, and canoeing shuttles.

See a detailed list of commercial guides here.

Keeping Costs Down

Pick up a national park pass. It’s an annual pass but the admission fees for these parks have skyrocketed in recent years. My annual pass paid for itself with just three park visits. Utah boasts 5 national parks which are known as “The Mighty Five”. The other four Utah National Parks are;

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