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Canyonlands National Park


Canyonlands National Park as we know it today has been carved, etched, and imprinted by millions of years of erosion by the Colorado River and its many tributaries. Over time, nature has created a surreal world of hundreds of canyons, buttes, and mesas. This enormous basin that the park is part of provides visitors and travelers unsurpassed views with many choices of outdoor activities, and an opportunity to learn about its rich natural history.

The area has elevations from 3,700 to 7,200 feet and is known as a "high desert," which receives less than ten inches of rain each year. The Canyonlands experience very hot summers and cold winters and on a daily basis, temperatures may fluctuate as much as 50 degrees. With this information, you'll soon realize you can wear a sweater or coat in the mornings and evenings after the sun sets, but during the day, you'll be able to strip down to a tshirt. Always wear layers and we highly recommend wearing hats to protect your face from the sun.

The Four Districts of The Canyonlands

Four districts divide the park by the Green River and Colorado River. The Island in the Sky is the easier to get to and while here you'll see impressive views from the many overlooks along hiking trails, four-wheel drive trails, as well as the main paved scenic drive. Get to the Needles District by hiking in or driving the four-wheeler. Even further in, with many more miles of hiking, you'll find the Maze. The maze is for people who come prepared, have long-distance hiking training, safety kits, and a lot of water.

For a fun backcountry drive, we recommend heading northwest of the Maze to Horseshoe Canyon. With life-size rock art and detailed rock portraits, this is a great way to see and area a lot of people don't take time to visit. Gaining access from the west is easiest with a two-wheel-drive access from Utah Hwy. 24 via 30 miles of graded dirt road. Or you could travel from the Green River on 47 miles of dirt road. Driving time is roughly 2.5 hours from Moab or 1.5 hours from Green River.

For an adventurous multi-day trip, we love the river trips, just another way to experience the park. A guide will take you through, pointing out important history and you'll love the get-back-to-nature feel of being out there alone on the river.

This is a very large park. Although the districts appear close to each other on the map, there can be anywhere between two and six hour of hiking and/or driving between them. Always be prepared and check out the National Park Service website to learn more about the area and visiting the Canyonlands National Park.

Photo Courtesy of the National Park Service