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

    Canyonlands

    National Park Utah

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  • New backcountry requirements in effect

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

Backpacking at the Island

photo: Hiking up the Murphy Trail
Hiking up the Murphy Trail
NPS Photo by Neal Herbert
 

The Island is a challenging place to backpack. The landscape below the mesa top is a mixture of talus slopes and vast basins without any reliable water sources. Some routes lead below the White Rim Road to the rivers, but river water is silty and difficult to purify. All overnight routes involve a descent of over 1,000 feet, except Murphy Point which is on the mesa top and is an ideal destination for single-night trips.

Backpackers camp at-large unless traveling along the Syncline Trail where there is a designated site. A permit is required for all overnight trips.

Did You Know?

Tadpole Shrimp

Naturally occurring sandstone basins called “potholes” collect rain water and wind-blown sediment, forming tiny ecosystems where a fascinating collection of plants and animals live. Tadpole shrimp, fairy shrimp and many insects can be found in potholes. More...