Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands' first superintendent, Bates Wilson, invited visitors to "Come to our wilderness, but be ready to rough it." Many years later, that advice still holds true for much of the vast park. But heading there shouldn't be an adventure.
Visiting Canyonlands is like visiting three separate parks, requiring three separate visits. Park fees collected at one location are good for the other sections of the park within a seven-day period. Visits may range from half a day to more than a week. Backcountry users will want to schedule more time to access remote locations. Spring and fall are the best times to visit, with May usually the busiest month.
Major entrances to the park are 35 miles northwest of Moab and 80 miles southwest of Moab. Visitor centers in the Island in the Sky and Needles districts are open year-round with reduced hours in winter. See the Park Overview Map for a view of the major entrances to the park. Check area Visitors Centers for more info on directions and lodging.
2282 S. West Resource Blvd.
Moab, UT 84532-3298
Phone: 435-719-2313 (This line offers 24-hour recorded information.)
Canyonlands is divided into three land districts that are two to six hours apart by car.
Needles District: From U.S. 191, take Utah 211 west to the Needles.
Island in the Sky District: From U.S. 191, take Utah 313 south to the Island.
Maze District: From Utah 24, take a graded dirt road east to the Hans Flat Ranger Station.
Visitor centers are open daily from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with extended hours during spring and fall. Visitor centers are closed on some federal holidays.
Highest in spring and fall
Generally pleasant temperatures during spring and fall, with cold winters and very hot summers.
Visitor Centers and Exhibits
The visitor centers at the Island in the Sky and Needles Districts offer exhibits and sales areas for books, maps, and other publications. The Maze District Ranger Station at Hans Flat has a small sales area.
Canyonlands has hundreds of miles of backcountry roads and trails. Backcountry permits are required for overnight use and are limited in number. Reservations are recommended.
Front-Country Camping: Individual sites for ten or fewer people are first-come, first-served.
Needles District: Squaw Flat Campground, 26 sites, water, vault toilets, no reservations.
Island in the Sky District: Willow Flat Campground, 12 sites, vault toilets, $5 per night, no water, no reservations.
Group Campsites: There are three group campsites located in the Needles District of Canyonlands that will accommodate groups of 11 or more people. Reservations are recommended.
There is no lodging in the park. Acommodations are available in Moab, Monticello, Green River, and Blanding. The park's visitor centers can give you suggestions.
Food and Supplies
There are no services within Canyonlands. Gas, food, and other items are available in nearby towns.
Pets may accompany visitors in the developed campgrounds and at overlooks along paved scenic drives. Pets must be leashed whenever outside a vehicle. Pets are not allowed on any hiking trails or in the backcountry, even in a vehicle.
Programs and Activities
Evening programs, overlook talks, and other programs are offered spring through fall. Check at visitor centers for current schedules. A Junior Ranger Program is available for children ages 6 to 12.
Canyonlands is primarily a backcountry destination. Visitors come to the park for sightseeing, hiking, camping, mountain biking, four-wheel driving, and river running. Each district retains its own character and offers different opportunities for exploration. The Island in the Sky offers expansive views from many overlooks, short hiking trails, and is the easiest to visit in a short period of time. The Needles offers more of a backcountry experience, requiring some hiking or four-wheel driving to see the area's attractions. The Maze is entirely a backcountry area, which requires a good deal of hiking and/or four-wheel driving over rough terrain, and considerably more time to visit.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication