Best Time to Visit Canyonlands National Park


When Not to Visit

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Canyonlands National Park sees the most visitors in May, with good reason: The air has lost the bite of winter, the wildflowers are in full bloom, and Moab, just 30 minutes from the Needles district, is full of weekend events. But March and April are also great times to go. Daytime highs hover in the 60s and 70s, blossoms poke their heads out of the ground, and the streams are running. The one downside: Spring is the windiest time of year.

Come summer, temperatures easily tip the 100s, though the park still attracts plenty of visitors, particularly vacationing families and foreigners on U.S. tours. In July and August, the monsoons roll through every afternoon: For ten minutes, the skies unleash water, wind, thunder, and lightening in a spectacular display of fury, then it all vanishes within minutes, leaving the desert some ten degrees cooler.

Fall is often the favorite time for locals to explore Canyonlands, thanks to its reliably beautiful weather. The winds have died down, the monsoons have left, and the sun comes out, bestowing dozens of days in the 70s and 80s. Remember, though, that water is scarce, which means backpackers need to carry their own.

Winter is a time of hibernation, when it rains little and temperatures plunge as low as the 20s. Still, day hikers outfitted with plenty of layers come to see the brilliant colors of the canyons, which never fade.