Canyonlands National Park in One Day

1st Sep 2014
Photo of Canyonlands National Park in One Day 1/12 by Kanika Kalia
Photo of Canyonlands National Park in One Day 2/12 by Kanika Kalia
Photo of Canyonlands National Park in One Day 3/12 by Kanika Kalia
Photo of Canyonlands National Park in One Day 4/12 by Kanika Kalia
Photo of Canyonlands National Park in One Day 5/12 by Kanika Kalia
Photo of Canyonlands National Park in One Day 6/12 by Kanika Kalia
Photo of Canyonlands National Park in One Day 7/12 by Kanika Kalia
Photo of Canyonlands National Park in One Day 8/12 by Kanika Kalia
Photo of Canyonlands National Park in One Day 9/12 by Kanika Kalia
Photo of Canyonlands National Park in One Day 10/12 by Kanika Kalia

Trip to Utah is not complete without visiting Canyonlands. Even though Canyonlands play second fiddle to Arches National Park , I just don’t think its fair to skip this park thinking its all the same. And you know why??  If you are anything like me,  you will not want to miss  panoramas of canyon. Imagine river goosenecks, tall spires of sandstone rising like trees high above your head, flat cliffs that lay 1,000 feet above their surroundings, and some of the best lifesize rock carvings in North America, all this and  you also get to escape the crowds  of Arches. Well if that does not make you jump high then I do not know what else will Photo of Canyonlands National Park in One Day 11/12 by Kanika Kalia (I think that lizard like thingy that my hubby was holding , also had something to do with it Photo of Canyonlands National Park in One Day 12/12 by Kanika Kalia …) All that being said, even if you have one day, this blog post will help you in hitting best of the spots of Canyonlands a.k.a” Canyonlands National Park  in One Day”.

There are three districts of Canyonlands , each with its own flavor. Green and Colorado Rivers  have taken years in shaping this mass land.. Long story short, this is what you need to know about these three areas.

1) Island in the sky and Dead Horse Point : This is the most easily accessible area of park and is very easy to visit. If you have a day or  even less than a day for Canyonlands , then this is the place to go.

2) The Needles : This area is best for hikers for backcountry experience. It is particularly remarkable for its geological features like pinnacles, grabens, arches etc.

3)The Maze : It is the most remote and secluded part of the park meant for the most adventurous ones.

No.Quick Tips
1Even if you have a pass for Arches you will still need to buy entry pass for Canyonlands separately that costs 10$.
2Canyonlands National Park is a desert so temperatures vary drastically. Days can be extremely hot whereas temperatures can drop below zero at night.
3If you plan to go on hikes – bring ample water with you.
4T he 3 districts of Canyonlands are not connected and it takes considerable time to get from one site to another. So plan accordingly.
5Be sure to stop by  Visitor Center to make sure you’re well equipped and know any potential dangers during your stay. Flash Floods are very common in this area so it is better to know  than being ignorant.

For more travel tips in this area please click on the link.

Where to Stay :

For all the city pleasures, Moab is the best choice. Moab has everything from  amazing hotels , to cabins and campgrounds. There is something to meet everyone’s needs. Just one advice – make reservations in advance .

If you are craving for camping experience then there are several developed campgrounds located in both the Island in the Sky and Needles districts. The most popular campsite in the Island in the Sky  area is Willow Flat  Campground. The Site is available for $10 per night on a first come first served basis. Squaw Flat Campground in the Needles District is perfect  base camp for day hikes to popular destinations like Chesler Park, Druid Arch and the Joint Trail. Apart from individual campsites , there are three group campgrounds too that can be reserved for groups of 11 or more people.

Must Sees: Regardless of how much time you have, there are some things in Canyonlands that you just cannot miss:

No.Do not miss
1Mesa Arch
2Dead Horse Point
3Grand View Point

Aztec Butte

Things to do 

The Island in the Sky is the most accessible of all the three areas. If you have limited time like I did , exploring this area will be your best bet. Just keep driving on SR 313 and you will be rewarded with expansive views overlooking dozens of miles of canyon country.

1) Mesa Arch : This is one of the most visited sites of Canyonlands and has become the “Classic” of southwest. It is indeed one of the most photographed arches and looks spectacular specially at sunrise. You can imagine its popularity from the fact that when we reached Mesa Arch at around 5am ( sunrise was 5:42 am or so ) there were close to 20-30 people before us,  all trying to take that perfect location from where they could capture the perfect shot of Mesa Arch. The photo below is our perfect shot that we could get from the edge of the arch.

2) Dead Horse Point : Just when you enter the park there is a diversion to left that will take you straight towards dead horse point. Dead Horse Point is situated atop a high plateau at an elevation of about 6,000 feet above sea level. If you have less time , head straight to the overlook and that will give you pretty good idea about the geological history of this place. The view from the look-out point is breathtaking . In case you have more time , this area has sevaral easy to moderate trails where you can do hiking or biking.

3) Grandview Point & White Rim overlook :  Another very easy to reach spot that provides breath taking panoramic view of Canyonlands is Grandview Point.  If you have more time,  you can take a 2 mile round trip trail leading to the tip of plateau that gives even more spectacular look of Canyonlands.

4) Aztec Butte : If your trip is photography driven, you just cannot miss Aztec Butte. It has a ancient puebloan feel to it that  provides excellent view of dwellings and granaries. To reach to Aztec Butte is around 2 mile round trip hike. Earlier this eroded sandstone alcove used to be supported by pillars on each side but unfortunately one of those have collapsed recently. To me its still worth taking a trip.

I know one always rushes through Canyonlands but I will suggest to keep atleast a day or a half to explore this wonderland. Since I could only cover Islands in the Sky in my last trip , I do plan to return and explore other areas of Canyonlands. Do share your favorites in comments below . How was your experience at  Canyonlands? Do you agree that Canyonlands is underrated? I will love to hear from you. Thank you for stopping by.

PhotoCredits : Photostains