• Spires of Cedar Mesa sandstone in Chesler Park (Needles District)

    Canyonlands

    National Park Utah

There are park alerts in effect.
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  • Some unpaved roads are closed

    Recent rains have caused extensive damage to some roads in the Needles District and some of the roads into the Maze District. More »

  • Safety in Bear Country

    Black bears have been seen in the Needles, Maze, and along the Colorado River. Be alert and store food and garbage properly: in hard-sided, latched containers (or your vehicle) when not being prepared or consumed. More »

  • New backcountry requirements in effect

    Hard-sided bear containers are required for backpackers in parts of the Needles District. More »

Auto Touring

The scenic drive at the Island in the Sky features many spectacular overlooks
The scenic drive at the Island in the Sky features many spectacular overlooks
NPS Photo by Neal Herbert
 

Scenic Drive

The Island in the Sky offers the best opportunities for sightseeing by car. The overlooks along the scenic drive are perched 1,000 feet above the surrounding terrain, providing spectacular views of the canyons below as well as the other districts. Several short trails, including Mesa Arch, Upheaval Dome and Aztec Butte, lead to interesting natural and cultural resources. Plan on spending at least an hour in the park in order to drive out to Grand View Point. More time is needed to enjoy the other overlooks or explore some of the short trails.

Four-Wheel Driving

There are hundreds of miles of four-wheel-drive roads in Canyonlands, providing access to various campsites, trailheads and viewpoints in the park's backcountry. These roads range in difficulty from intermediate, like the White Rim Road at the Island in the Sky, to extremely technical routes like Elephant Hill in the Needles and the road to the Land of Standing Rocks in the Maze.

If you plan to enjoy the park's 4WD roads, please be aware of the following:

  • All vehicles must remain on established roads.
  • ATVs, UTVs and OHVs are not permitted. Motorbikes must be highway-legal.
  • All vehicles must be registered and operated by a licensed driver.
  • Pets are not permitted, even in the vehicle.
  • Permits are required for all overnight trips in the backcountry.

During the spring and fall, demand for permits frequently exceeds the number available. If you plan to visit Canyonlands during peak season, especially to camp along the White Rim Road, it is recommended that you make reservations well in advance.

High-clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicles and some experience are required for most backcountry roads. Other vehicles (e.g. low-clearance all-wheel-drive or high-clearance 2WD) usually have difficulty negotiating the rough slickrock, loose rocks, deep sand and steep switchbacks found throughout the park.

Rental Vehicles

Most vehicle rental agreements restrict vehicles to paved roads. Check your contract and be aware that the rental company can charge you for damage to the vehicle outside of the contract agreement specifications.

Towing Charges

Drive carefully! Towing charges are very expensive. Visitors caught in the backcountry of Canyonlands with disabled vehicles can expect towing fees in excess of $1,000. AAA and other towing insurance may not be valid on backcountry dirt roads.

Did You Know?

Upheaval Dome

Upheaval Dome contains rock layers unlike any in the surrounding area. Scientists still debate whether this oddity is the remnant of a meteorite impact or a salt dome. More...