Canyonlands National Park – Islands in the Sky District- Utah

April 19, 2017

It was for the Easter weekend when we had decided to do Capitol Reef National Park and Canyonlands National Park. These were the remaining two out of the five national parks of Utah for us. You can read my blog post for Capitol Reef here. I know it’s a long blog post as I have decided to included all minimalistic details possible. Hope this info helps you in the positive way.

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park is divided into three districts – Islands in the Sky, The Needles and The Maze. The distance between Islands in the Sky and The Needles is roughly 2 hours. So plan at least a day for each if you want to visit both of them. “The Maze” requires special permits to hike and no services are available in this region. So be prepared and plan accordingly.

Canyonlands National Park
Cow is crossing the road, creating traffic jam 🙂

Our first stop is always the visitor centre. We always do the scenic route first and then we hike as per our interest.

Canyonlands National Park

One day itinerary –

  • Mesa Arch Hike

Canyonlands National Park
Mesa Arch

Mesa Arch is best hiked during dawn. People wait to watch the sunrise here. Climbing the arch is not allowed. The trail is a bit rocky and uneven. The trails are marked with cairns. This is an natural arch on the cliff edge and you will be treated with gorgeous panoramic Buck canyon views, La Sal Mountains, Washer woman arch and Monster tower. Most photographers hike here to get the sunrise shot from this natural arch.

Canyonlands National Park

  • Hike type: Moderate hike.
  • Total time required to hike comfortably: 1/2 hour
  • Total distance: ~0.5 miles RT
  • Pets: Not allowed
  • Kid friendly: Yes.
  • Best time: Spring and Fall season – Open year round (I have been in late Spring) The temperatures get really high so spring or fall would be the best time to visit.
  • Washrooms: Yes
  • Parking: Available.
  • Permits required: None
Canyonlands National Park
Complete view of Mesa Arch with the La Sal Mountains in the background

View from Mesa Arch @Canyonlands National Park

  • Upheaval Dome Hike – First Overlook

Canyonlands National Park
Upheaval Dome – First Overlook point

If you have never seen a crater before, you should do this hike. Again this trail is also rocky and uneven. If you hike further up then you also get canyon views along with the crater view. We never hiked further as we did this the last , and by this time we we had enough of canyon views.

Canyonlands National Park

  • Hike type: Moderate hike.
  • Total time required to hike comfortably: 1 hour
  • Total distance: ~1 miles RT
  • Pets: Not allowed
  • Kid friendly: Yes.
  • Best time: Spring and Fall season – Open year round (I have been in late Spring) The temperatures get really high so spring or fall would be the best time to visit.
  • Washrooms: Yes
  • Parking: Available.
  • Permits required: None
Desert flowers @Canyonlands National Park
Desert flowers

We checked all of the viewpoints. They were all  just a short hike from the parking lot. Very beautiful views and easy for kids too.

Praveen is posing 😛
Canyonlands National Park
Up close shot
Driving through Canyonlands National Park to view the navajo sandstone cliffs
A 4*4 vehicle is necessary if you want to explore the backcountry roads. They look so tiny.
Canyonlands National Park
Shafer Trail Overlook

Canyonlands National Park

For the sunset, we were at the Green River overlook point. We had an amazing time chasing the sunset.

Canyonlands National Park
Green River Overlook during sunset
Canyonlands National Park
A slot canyon in the making ?
A cloudy sunset!

Other Attractions –

  • Dead Horse State Park

Within a few miles from Islands in the Sky, you can visit this state park for some spectacular panoramic views of canyons. The legend of Dead Horse Point is that this point was used as a corral for wild mustangs roaming the mesa top.  Cowboys herded them across the narrow neck of land and onto the point.  For some unknown reason, horses were left corralled on the waterless point where they died of thirst within view of the Colorado River 2,000 feet below.

  • Arches National Park

I will be writing a separate post for this one. It is also one of my favorite parks here in Utah.

Delicate Arch @Arches National PArk
Delicate Arch @Arches National Park
  • Canyonlands National Park – The Needles District

Roughly two hours from the Islands in the Sky district is the The Needles. You have some really good hikes and they are kid friendly too.

  • Goblin Valley State Park

You can read my separate blog post for Goblin Valley State Park here.

Goblins
Goblins
  • Crystal Geyser

There is a geyser located on the eastern side of Green River. It sometimes erupts up to 130 ft. This is a cold water geyser unlike other hot water geysers found in places in Yellowstone National Park.

Happy hiking and happy exploring!

Thank you for visiting! If you have any questions / suggestions / feedback you can comment below or send me an email. I would love to hear back from you.

Have a nice day!

5 Comments on “Canyonlands National Park – Islands in the Sky District- Utah

Leave a Reply