"Land of the Canyons" Top 5 Page for this destination Canyonlands National Park by goodfish
Canyonlands National Park Travel Guide: 209 reviews and 516 photos
Rugged, remote, desolate, dangerous and majestic, Canyonlands NP is also enormous. The park is divided into four districts (Island in the Sky, Needles, Horseshoe Canyon and the Maze) that are reached by separate entry points. All are a bit (or more) of a drive to get to and none of them are really designed to be explored by car. You need to be prepared to walk, scramble or climb more than a little bit to really experience the many wonders that most districts have to offer but your efforts will be rewarded many times over.
Island in the Sky (closest to Moab: 32 miles) offers the longest scenic drive and trails ranging from .5 to 20-milers.
Needles is a 75-mile drive from Moab and has day hikes from an easy .3 mile RT stroll to multi-day treks of over 22 one-way.
Horseshoe Canyon is a remote 100 miles from Moab - 32 of them on rough dirt road - and has one 7-mile hike to the some of the most fantastic Barrier-style pictographs in the country.
The Maze is the least visited and the most challenging as trips into its canyons involve high-clearance, 4-wheel drive roads and days of backpacking plus topographic map, climbing and self-suffiency skills.
Different of the districts allow primitive camping, backpacking (with a permit), experienced 4-wheeling,\ and mountain biking so check out the NPS website for info on those.
Make Moab your base for Island in the Sky and combine your stay with Arches National and Dead Horse Point State parks - both of which are nearby and roughly on the way to the Island In the Sky park entrance. Arches offers a completely different experience (more time looking up than down) so you'll get an unbelievable variety within reasonable driving distances.
We stayed in Hanksville for the Horseshoe Canyon unit, and made the drive from Moab to Needles and back for the Chesler Park/Joint Trail trek: I'd camp if wanting to do more than one day of exploration there.
- Pros:Fantastic vistas, not as crowded as other National Parks
- Cons:None unless you are a couch potato
- In a nutshell:Pick a canyon, any canyon, and it'll be amazing
Needles is by far our favorite unit of the three in Canyonlands we’ve explored. It is a 75-mile drive from Moab but the... more travel advice
Our poor national parks and other historic sites suffer a lot of abuse. It's not just the millions of feet that wear... more travel advice
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