The whole park is cut up. The Green and Colorado Rivers trisect the Colorado Plateau, slicing Canyonlands into distinct districts. The mesas you see at Island in the Sky look like a mountain range lopped off by a broadsword. The Maze is gorges, gorgeously gouged. Needles is a pincushion, pointy-sides-out. Chopped buttes, scored sediment and carved petroglyphs. Lots of cutting, scraping and dividing asunder. Read more...
Island in the Sky
Most start here, the district closest to Moab. An easy two-mile hike to Grand View Point shows you what you’re getting into, 1,200 feet above the rivers’ crux. Mesa Arch is also quick & pretty, or take the 100-mile White Rim Road if you want to descend for a few days.
Southeast of the Colorado River, Needles holds a hundred stunning hikes and world-class off-roading. Plenty to see on day hikes (Pothole Point, Cave Springs) or drive and camp a few days for even more (Chesler Park Loop). Research the roads, tune up your 4WD and cut as deep into the Canyonlands map as you dare.
The (wild) west district. Don’t go here. It’s too remote and you’re not tough enough. And it’s too beautiful to tolerate (see: Doll house; Maze Overlook). Okay, fine. If you insist. But take extra water, extra gas, a GPS and a topo map of Canyonlands. Your phone can’t save you here. And pack a blade — if you step off a trail or your radiator goes, you’re three centuries ago, hunting for your dinner.
In Canyonlands National Park, Utah goes wild. All of the above, plus gnarly whitewater at Cataract Canyon, life-size petroglyphs and pictographs at the Great Gallery in Horseshoe Canyon, and permit-only (read: liability waivers) camping, off-roading, hiking and rafting. Sleeping in true, silent darkness.