Top 10 Sights to Visit When You’re in Utah’s Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park boasts 337,598 acres of breathtaking land formations, such as multi-colored canyons, arches, and spires in Utah’s high desert. Carved from time, water, and gravity, the varying rugged layers of earth and rocks lend a rustic and majestic charm to these awe-inspiring marvels of nature.  

Hiking is one of the best ways to admire Utah’s endless natural bounties. Aside from improved physical health, studies have shown that walking and driving through nature trails may increase happiness hormones in our bodies, encouraging better mental health levels.

Dead Horse Point State Park 

Dead Horse Point State Park is one of the most popular state parks in Utah, frequently featured in stunning scenic photographs. The area offers panoramic views of Canyonlands’ incredible terrains and formations that were shaped by millions of years of geological activities, creating canyons and mountains that form a delicate yet strong balance of natural beauty. 

Despite its interesting name, Dead Horse Point State Park has several popular hiking trails that are also pet-friendly.  

Hours open: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. (may vary by season) 

Contact number: (435) 259-2614

 

Mesa Arch 

Found in the Island in the Sky District, the Mesa Arch is a famous stone arch perched dramatically on the edge of a cliff with a backdrop of impressive canyons, majestic rock spires, and the remarkable La Sal Mountains. Hikers enjoy this easy walk while identifying native plants and their traditional medicinal uses. However, pets are not allowed on this trail. 

Hours open: 24 hours 

Contact number: (435) 259-4712 local extension 0

Mesa Arch - Canyonlands National Park

Island in the Sky Visitor Center 

The Island in the Sky overlooks different perspectives as the isolated flat mesa sits atop steep sandstone cliffs over a thousand feet high from the surrounding terrain. Hiking trails are available, as are roads for four-wheel drive cars, which are perfect for intrepid explorers out to discover and contemplate the beauty of nature.  

The visitor center is open year-round, although operating hours may vary per season. The center features exhibits, books, maps, picnic areas, internet service, and onsite park rangers. Water is readily available, but electric outlets are not. 

Hours open: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (may vary per season) 

Contact number: (435) 259-4712

Needles District Canyonlands 

The Needles are collectively named for the dominant colorful sandstone spires of Cedar Mesa. Hiking trails are available for adventurous explorers to take long day hikes or even enjoy overnight stays. Several land formation features, such as the Tower Ruin, the Joint Trail, Chester Park, and Confluence Overlook can be viewed along foot trails or by driving four-wheeled vehicles on the park’s roads. 

Hours open: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (may vary per season) 

Contact number: (435) 259-4711



Druid Arch 

The Druid Arch Trail is a gorgeous hiking trail, heavily used by nature lovers to identify and admire the beautiful wildflowers that grow in profusion along the trail. Permits may be required for whole-day and overnight stays near and along the river. Sandy trails make the hikes slightly interesting and challenging, and hikers are encouraged to be more prudent when traversing the trail.



Shafer Trail Viewpoint 

The Shafer Trail is at the Island in the Sky District and is an iconic and popular road that goes 1,500 feet through a gigantic multi-colored sandstone cliff. The trail used to be a route made by Native Americans who traversed it to access food. The trail then became a road for sheepherders, and eventually, it became a path for trucks carrying uranium loads.  

Named after Mormon pioneer settlers, the trail features several rock layers down into the canyon where hikers go through this rough man-made road. Currently, the Shafer Trail is a challenging unpaved path for adventurous hikers wishing to experience unique perspectives of nature. 



Grand View Point Overlook 

The Grand View Point Overlook is a great out and back trail that gives hikers a glimpse of the local wildlife. The trail is moderate enough for many hikers of different skill levels who use the path to hike, walk, and enjoy nature’s marvels at their own speeds. The panoramic views are stunning and spectacular, making this trail a hiker’s preferred site for dramatic sunset scenes. 

The Grand View Point Overlook trail is wheelchair-friendly and child-friendly. However, past the first overlook, stairs may present mobility challenges.



Grand View Point Road 

The road toward Grand View Point is also an attraction on its own. The full asphalt road offers a scenic view of the landscape, which makes travelers even more excited to reach the Grand View Point Outlook. Weather conditions may cause the road to be slippery during snowy or icy conditions, so drivers should be prudent during these situations.



Elephant Hill 

The Elephant Hill Trail is a moderate out and back trail that offers strikingly scenic views for hikers of all skills and levels. Perfect for hikes, walks, trips, and mountain biking, the gorgeous landscape allows people to enjoy the magnificence of nature while crossing the trail. 



Candlestick Tower 

Candlestick Tower is a tall isolated sandstone hill with steep vertical slides and a relatively flatter top terrain. Resembling a candlestick, the tower is made of Wingate Sandstone deposited approximately 200 million years ago. To access views of the Candlestick Tower, four-wheel-drive vehicles can go past the White Rim Road. The majestic towers can be viewed from the comfort of visitors’ vehicles, although the paved roadside can only accommodate up to five parked cars. 

Utah’s Canyonlands National Park is a treasure trove of natural landscapes and marvels, with visitors frequently enriching their lives with each visit. Whether looking for a contemplative or colorful adventure, hikers, bikers, and drivers alike bring home beautiful memories that last their lifetimes. 

While these adventures may be exciting, we encourage you to be always prudent and cautious when hiking. Hiking and driving to view nature’s majestic works of art are worth doing so safely and securely. Below are some links to help you carefully plan and organize your trips to remain protected and risk-free: 

https://www.nps.gov/cany/planyourvisit/safety.htm 

https://www.nps.gov/ 

https://www.alltrails.com/ 

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