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Canyonlands National Park - Utah

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Canyonlands is an immense desert of rock, divided by two great rivers: the Green and Colorado, near the pioneer city of Moab. The rivers separate the national park into three distinctive sections that have their own, separate attractions: Island in the Sky, the Needles, and the Maze. The park is just southwest of the old Mormon pioneer town of Moab, with the park headquarters in town. The three sections are not connected by road, and you drive from different directions to get to each attraction.

What to See & Do

Canyonlands National Park is a huge area of desert made up of three major areas. Each has soimething different to offer, from great mountain biking and hiking, to four-wheel-drive adventure.

Island in The Sky

The high, flat mesa lies between the two rivers. For those with little time to spend, this is the easiest part of the park to see, and to walk. With several overlooks at an elevation of 6,000 feet, you can peer down into the White Rim and get fine views of the Needles and the Maze. The La Sal, Abajo, and Henry ranges are seen in the distance. To get there, drive from Moab north along Hwy. 191 and take Utah Hwy. 313 for 22 miles (southwest). The roads on top of the mesa are paved. Several trails lead to wonderful vista points, and to Upheaval Dome. The visitor center is open daily. There is a primitive campground and picnic area (no water). There are campgrounds, as well, in Arches National Park, just north of Moab.

The Needles

Pinnacles and more pinnacles are the features here, in this more southerly section of the park. To get there, drive south from Moab or north from Monticello on U.S. Hwy. 191 and then drive west on Utah Route 211 -- passing Newspaper Rock State Historic Park -- to reach the park entrance. The Needles Visitor Center is just inside the boundary with nearby trailheads to the Colorado River Overlook and the Cave Spring Trail.

A campground is located at Squaw Flat (a short drive from the visitor center) with tables and water (spring through fall); a fee charged. There is also a campground in Newspaper Rock State Park (on Hwy. 211).

The Maze

This is a remote area of the park, accessible by 4WD or high-clearance vehicles, on the western edge of the park territory. To get there, drive south from Interstate 70 (near Green River) or north from Hanksville, on Utah Hwy. 24. Twenty Four miles south of I-70, there is a dirt road which leads 46 miles east to the Hans Flat Ranger Station. This road is suitable for two-wheel-drive vehicles. Another backroad (for 4WD vehicles only) leads north from Utah 95 near Hite. The Horseshoe Canyon section of the park is reached by a two-wheel-drive backroad, an hour's drive north of the Hans Flat Ranger Station.

Four-wheel-drive roads and foot trails lead to several scenic areas including the Land of Standing Rocks, the Doll House, and Ernie's Country. The Maze itself is a jumbled collection of canyons reached via a long trail with a descent of 600 feet. There are Indian pictographs on the walls of Horseshoe Canyon that are said to be more than 2,000 years old. This area is reached by a separate backroad. The life-size pictures on the Great Gallery are among the finest examples of prehistoric art to be found in America.


Where to Stay -- Hotel Guide

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Primitive campsites (no water, no fee) are available in the Land of Standing Rocks area, and at the Doll House.

For places to stay and eat, and other information
on trhe Canyonlands, go to
Moab and the Canyons.

Nearby Places

Cedar Breaks National Monument
Capitol Reef National Park
Arches National Park
Zion National Park
Glen Canyon NRA


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