Trip Itineraries

Since visiting more than one district in a day isn't practical for most Canyonlands visitors, itineraries are listed for Island in the Sky and The Needles districts separately.

Island in the Sky

If you have....

1 Hour: Drive to Grand View Point and enjoy a broad view of the entire park. If time permits, visit Buck Canyon or Shafer Canyon overlooks along the way.

2 Hours: Visit Grand View Point and Green River Overlook, and hike the 0.5-mile-loop nature trail to Mesa Arch.

Half a day: Visit all of the above and enjoy many of the other short, mesa top nature trails to features like Whale Rock or Upheaval Dome. Attend a ranger-led program. Visitors with four-wheel-drive may consider returning to Moab via the Shafer Trail and Potash roads.

Full day: Hike several of the mesa top trails or one of the long, strenuous trails like Syncline or Murphy loops. With four-wheel-drive, explore the White Rim Road (permit required) to Musselman Arch or Lathrop Canyon.

Many days: Use the campground as a base camp and explore the district on foot or in a vehicle. Explore the backcountry via backpacking or a multi-day, four-wheel-drive or mountain bike trip along the White Rim Road (permit required).


The Needles

If you have...

1 Hour: Hike any one of the short interpretive trails and drive to Big Spring Canyon Overlook to enjoy the view.

2 Hours: Drive the three-mile unpaved Elephant Hill access road for a distant view of The Needles. Hike one or two of the short interpretive trails.

Half a Day: In addition to enjoying the scenic drive, hikers can explore the Slickrock Trail or walk to the edge of Chesler Park for a closer look at The Needles. Visitors with four-wheel-drive vehicles might consider driving to the Colorado River Overlook. Spend some time at the visitor center learning about the area.

Full Day: Hike one of the longer backcountry trails, or spend time exploring the four-wheel-drive roads, traveling up Horse Canyon to see the arches, or over Elephant Hill to the Confluence Overlook. (Permits required.)

Many Days: Use the campground as a base camp and explore some of the hiking trails. Backpackers could spend a night in Chesler Park or Lost Canyon. Visitors with four-wheel-drive could move their base camp into the backcountry, stay at Devils Kitchen or Peekaboo, and explore the area around those locations. (Permits are required for many backcountry visits.)

Last updated: February 19, 2023

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