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12 Incredible Things To Do In Canyonlands National Park Utah

people standing on boulders

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When it comes to exploring the best scenes of nature in Utah, look no further than Canyonlands National Park. This expansive desert landscape is where you’ll find flat mesa’s, towering rocky pinnacles (called Needles) and Native American rock paintings.

Needless to say, there are plenty of things to do in Canyonlands National Park in Utah, you’ll be pleased you made a stop here.

We enjoyed two days exploring this national park, and feel we uncovered much of its top attractions and places to see.

In this guide, we share our top tips on the best things to do in Canyonlands National Park including the best hikes, scenic drives, how to get there, where to stay, and more!

Where is Canyonlands National Park?

Canyonlands National Park is one of five national parks in Utah. The closest town is Moab, which is situated about 30 miles away from the Islands of the Sky District, and 60 miles from The Needles District.

The added bonus of its location is that it is also near Arches National Park, which means you can cross off Arches and Canyonlands National Park which are two incredibly diverse national parks at the same time!

Canyonlands is a rugged, untamed land with mostly unpaved roads and primitive trails. If you seek adventure, you can find it in abundance here.

Directions to Canyonlands National Park

It takes just under an hour from Moab to get to the Islands of the Sky District. It takes over an hour (depending on where you depart from in Moab) to get to the Needles District.

Moab to Canyonlands is 30 miles and takes 40 minutes to drive. From Arches National Park to Canyonlands, it’s 26 miles and takes 30 minutes to drive.

3 Districts of Canyonlands National Park

woman standing on edge of cliff with canyon views
Islands in the Sky District – view from Mesa Arch Trail

Canyonlands is unique in that it is separated into three districts stretching across 527 square miles.

These three districts are created by the Colorado and Green Rivers carving their way through the canyon.

They meet up at the confluence and continue moving down south.

The Green and Colorado Rivers form a Y through the national park creating:

  • Islands in the Sky in the north
  • the Needles District in the Southeast
  • and the Maze District in the Southwest.

There is no way to get over the rivers to move between each district from within the park, you have to drive through the backcountry. This adds a…

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