People have explored the canyonlands area on horseback for over a hundred years. In fact, many routes created by cowboys and sheepherders have become popular four-wheel-drive roads and hiking trails. However, resource concerns, including disease transmission from stock to wild animals and the spread of exotic plant species, have necessitated special regulations for visitors wishing to ride in the park today. Lack of water is a limiting factor for pack and saddle trips in Canyonlands, as only a few areas have reliable sources. Road conditions can vary through the year. Contact a visitor center for information about current conditions.
Pack and saddle stock may be taken on all designated four-wheel-drive roads and in Horseshoe Canyon. Cross-country travel is prohibited. Pack and saddle stock include horses, burros or mules. Pets are prohibited in the backcountry.
Day-use permits are free of charge. Permits are unlimited in the park except in Horse/Salt Creek and Lavender Canyons in the Needles district, where day use is limited to seven animals per day. In these areas, permits are available through the reservation system and fees are charged. In all other areas of the park, including Horseshoe Canyon, group size must not exceed ten animals and ten people.
Overnight trips must stay at designated vehicle camps. Permits are $30. All manure and feed must be packed out from the campsites. The group size limit is seven people and seven horses for the Needles and Island in the Sky, and five people and five horses for the Maze and Orange Cliffs. Overnight use is not allowed in Horseshoe Canyon.
- All pack and saddle stock users must obtain a backcountry use permit, either for day use or overnight camping.
Group size for day use is ten (10) people and ten (10) animals, except in Salt Creek, Horse Canyon, and Lavender Canyon in the Needles District, use is limited to seven (7) animals per day.
Group size for overnight use is seven (7) people and seven (7) animals in the Needles and Island in the sky Districts, and five (5) people and five (5) animals in the Maze and Orange Cliffs areas.
Overnight use by pack and saddle stock is allowed at designated backcountry vehicle campsites.
- All parties are required to remove and scatter manure upon vacating a campsite. Animals may not be ridden or kept overnight within the boundary posts of a campsite.
- Pack and saddle stock may not be left unattended. Only stakes with no more than eight (8) feet of rope may be used to secure animals in locations where there will be little or no soil crust or vegetation damage, 300 feet from water sources and 100 feet from campsites. All manure must be scattered from areas where animals are secured. High lines or picket lines attached to trees, hobbling, and fencing are not allowed.
- Animals may be tethered to vehicles or stock trailers, in the parking areas of designated campsites. In these parking areas, trailheads, and other loading areas, all manure MUST be picked up prior to departing.
- All pack and saddle animals must be fed certified weed-free pellets or forage – hay, straw, and mulch – for 48 hours in advance of a trip. Proof of certification tags required. Forage may not be taken beyond trailheads. Use pelletized fee, hay cubes, and grain products in the backcountry. Feed may not be left on the ground; a feedbag, tarp, or similar must be used. All unused food will be packed out. Grazing, or loose herding of pack and saddle stock is not allowed in the park; grazing of park vegetation is not permitted.
- Where possible, horses will be watered downstream from the source. Manure must be removed immediately if dropped in or near any spring or non-flowing water source.
- Pack and saddle stock may not be ridden or kept overnight in any established roadside campground.
- Commercial use of saddle and pack stock is prohibited.
- Lost or dead stock animals within park boundaries will be reported to the park as soon as possible. If an animal dies within the park, it is the owner or responsible person's responsibility to remove the carcass from the park or make arrangements for its proper disposal in a timely manner.
Reservation Office (435) 259-4351
Island in the Sky (435) 259-4712
Needles (435) 259-4711
Maze/Horseshoe Canyon (435) 259-2652