Canyonlands National Park, UT

Location:Island in the Sky: Utah Highway 313
The Needles: Highway 211

Canyonlands National Park is very well named for it is all canyons of many types. One of the most remote and unreachable parks that is in Utah. Divided into three areas: the Maze, Island in the Sky, and the Needles. Each is remove and unreachable from the other areas.

General Information

Canyonlands National Park is really divided into 3 sections. Each of the three sections has a own visitor center with different hours and information the area. The three sections are The Needles, the Maze, and Island in the Sky. The sections are names for the features that you can see in the area. Travel between the sections is hard. The parks is divided by Colorado River and Green River. This is really what makes the three sections. You can get great views of the two rivers or views up of great spires, rock cliffs and much more. This is Utah's largest national park.

The park is well known for white-water rafting, hiking, four-wheel driving, and mountain biking. The entrances to the park are in different areas. One is 29 miles northwest of Moab and the other is 50 miles northwest of Monticello. Each sections has a different own visitor center and hours. Travel by car is required for this park.

Canyonlands has been a national park since 1916.

The Needles

Needles is names for the rock formations of the area. There are spires of Ceder Mesa Stone that are all over this area. You can help but notice them. This area is is at the end of Utah Highway 211. It is a paved road and the only road in and out of the area. This is 40 miles south of Moab, Utah or 14 miles north of Monticello. There is a Needles District Visitor Center that is open year round. It has extended hours during the spring, summer and early fall.

This area is also good for hiking and 4WD. The Needles District is know for it great 4WD sections. There campgrounds available in the area, but you need reservations for them. This is also an area where you need to bring all your food and water with you. There is not any available in the park.

The Maze

The Maze is the most remote and wild section of the park. It is accessible by 50 miles of unpaved road. Hans Flat Ranger station is where there is nothing. There is once access road into the park which is a 4WD road and can easy become inaccessible.

Horseshoe Canyon

Horseshoe Canyon is a recent addition to Canyonlands National Park. It was added in 1971. It is best known for The Great Gallery panel. This is life size figures of with great detail of the hunters that traveled through the areas. It is a 6 1/2 mile round trip to the Great Gallery. You can also see dwellings that were used thousands of years ago. Some of the rock are is over 3,000 years old. The style of rock art now knows as the "Barrier Canyon". The area is lined with various rock art.

If you go at the right time of year there are some guided tours. Mostly it is spring through fall. You contact the Hans Flat Ranger station for information.

You can see spring wildflowers and mature cottonwoods. Be sure to check out water pockets to see what wild life in living in it.

If you plan to visit this area you must bring in your own water. There is no water on the rim or new by. Access to the area is by dirt road. Access to the area is two different directions. There are two rims to the areas. You an get to Horseshoe Canyon from Highway 30 or from Green River. Either drive has a lot of dirt road driving and weather can make the area impassable.

Island in the Sky

This is the easiest to access of the 3 sections. It is the only one that has a paved road to the area. This area has some great things to do. You can get to this area by Utah Highway 113. The road up has some great pull outs for views. It is about 40 minutes north of Moab, Utah. This is the area that is the best for a short visit. This visitor center in this area is open all year round. There are extended hours during the spring, summer and early fall.

There are a variety of different dirt roads in this area. One of those roads is the 100-mile White Rim Road. It loops around and below the mesa top. It takes a few days to travel by 4 wheel drive and is also a good trip for a few days on mountain bike.

Hikes are available in this area for short or long hikes. The long hikes start on the White Rim Road and descend down off the rim. The longer hikes are consider strenuous and have 1,000 to 2,000 changes in elevation. There are several shorter hikes start on the scenic drive. They are nice and easy to get to with good views. Some of those hikes include Aztec Butte, Grand View Point, Mesa Arch, Whale Rock and Upheaval Dome .