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This film will help you prepare for your backcountry technical four wheel drive trip at Canyonlands National Park. Helpful tips and advice provided in this video will help you plan your trip and Leave No Trace while out in these pristine areas.


Scenic Drives

Island in the Sky offers the best opportunities for sightseeing by car. The overlooks along the 34-mile roundtrip scenic drive are perched 1,000 feet above the surrounding terrain, providing spectacular views of the canyons below as well as the other districts. Plan on spending at least an hour in the park in order to drive out to Grand View Point. You will need more time to enjoy additional overlooks or explore some of the short trails.

The scenic drive at The Needles continues 6.5 miles past the visitor center, ending at Big Spring Canyon Overlook. Along the way are several pullouts for short hiking trails, viewpoints, and a picnic area. Graded gravel roads lead to Cave Spring and the Elephant Hill trailhead, where there is a second picnic area. The Elephant Hill access road provides the best view of The Needles from a car.

An aerial view of a road near a viewpoint
The scenic drive at the Island in the Sky features many spectacular overlooks.

NPS/Neal Herbert


Learn and Explore

Unpaved Roads

There are hundreds of miles of unpaved roads in Canyonlands, providing access to various campsites, trailheads, and viewpoints in the park's backcountry. Most roads require four-wheel-drive. These roads range in difficulty from intermediate to extremely technical. Research your route thoroughly before attempting these roads.

If you plan to enjoy the park's four-wheel-drive roads, please be aware of the following:

  • A four-wheel-drive vehicle (low range) is required on the White Rim Road and all backcountry roads at The Needles and The Maze. Other vehicles with two-wheel drive or all-wheel drive do not have the ground clearance or low gearing to negotiate the rough slickrock, loose rocks, deep sand and steep switchbacks found on these roads. 
  • All vehicles must remain on established roads.
  • ATVs, UTVs and OHVs are not permitted.  Motorbikes must be equipped and licensed for interstate travel.
  • All vehicles must be registered and operated by a licensed driver.
  • Pets are not permitted, even in the vehicle.
  • Road conditions can change quickly following rain or snow. Check road conditions..


Do I need a permit?

  • Day Use: You must have a permit for day use on White Rim Road, Elephant Hill Road, Lavender Canyon Road, and Horse Canyon/Peekaboo Road.
  • Overnight:You must have a permit 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, we recommend that you make reservations well in advance.

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. People caught in the backcountry of Canyonlands with disabled vehicles can expect towing fees in excess of $2,000. AAA and other towing insurance may not be valid on backcountry dirt roads.

Last updated: September 23, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

2282 Resource Blvd.
Moab, UT 84532



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