Views from atop the Island in the Sky encompass thousands of square miles of spectacular canyon country.
Distance from Moab
32 miles (51.5 km)
Open year-round, 24 hours/day
$10/vehicle - Good for 7 days (Subject to change)
Visitor Center & Hours
Canyonlands is open year-round, 24 hours a day. Visitor center operating hours vary depending on the season. The visitor center is closed on December 25th and January 1st. (435) 719-2313
Canyonlands is the largest national park in Utah, and its diversity staggers the imagination. The easiest way to see the park is with a visit to the Island in the Sky district, only 32 miles (51.5 km) from Moab. The Island in the Sky offers many pullouts with spectacular views along the paved scenic drive. Hiking trails and four-wheel-drive roads access backcountry areas for day or overnight trips.
The Island in the Sky sits atop a massive 1500 foot mesa, quite literally an Island in the Sky. Twenty miles (32.2 km) of paved roads lead to many of the most spectacular views in Canyon Country. From these lofty viewpoints visitors can often see over 100 miles (161 km) in any given direction, resulting in panoramic views that encompass thousands of square miles of canyon country. Take a short day-hike or spend a relaxing late afternoon enjoying the sunset. Whether you have a few hours to spend or a few days, the Island in the Sky provides an unforgettable Canyon Country experience for the entire family.
The La Sal Mountains appear to float on a layer
of clouds as seen from the Island in the Sky.
Canyonlands is a paradise for photographers. Under conditions of constantly changing light, the varicolored landscape provides limitless photographic opportunities. Often, the difference between an average photograph and an exceptional photograph is good lighting. Low sun angles at sunrise and sunset can add brilliant color to the rock. Scattered clouds can also add depth to an image and a passing storm can provide extremely dramatic lighting.
The Island in the Sky offers a wide variety of hiking trails ranging from easy 30-60 minute walks on the mesa top, to overnight expeditions all the way down to the Colorado River.
A short .5 mile trail leads to Mesa Arch.
Trails are marked with cairns (small rock piles). Please do not disturb existing cairns or build new ones. Signs are located at trailheads and intersections. All trails leading below the Mesa Top are primitive and rough; carry and know how to use a topographic map. No potable water is available along any of the hiking trails. During the warmest months always carry at least one gallon of water per person, per day.
Canyonlands is famous for the 100-mile White Rim Road which travels around the massive Island in the Sky section of the park. Note that permits are required 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, it is recommended that you make reservations well in advance. These permits can be reserved starting the second Monday in July for the next calendar year. Contact the backcountry office at 435-259-4351.
The White Rim Road is also a popular 4-wheel driving route. Note that all vehicles must remain on the established road. ATVs and non-street legal dirt bikes are not permitted. High-clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicles and some experience are required. Other vehicles (e.g. low-clearance all-wheel-drive or high-clearance 2WD) usually have difficulty negotiating the rough slickrock, loose rocks, deep sand and steep switchbacks found throughout the park.
A Few Hours
Drive the park's 20 miles (32.2 km) of paved roads and enjoy the spectacular views. Sunrise and sunset are particularly beautiful times of day to enjoy these lofty panoramic views of canyon country.
Drive the paved scenic drive and hike some of the shorter trails, such as the Mesa Arch or Upheaval Dome Trails. A recent theory suggests that Upheaval Dome was created by a meteor impact.
Drive the paved scenic drive and hike some of the longer trails in the park, such as the 5 mile (8 km) round trip Neck Spring Trail. Those with high clearance/4WD vehicles can drive down the Shafer Trail to the White Rim and explore Musselman Arch, or drive all the way down to the Colorado River via Lathrop Canyon.
Backpackers can experience the solitude of Canyonlands by hiking some of the trails from the mesa top to the White Rim (steep & strenuous) and spend the night in the backcountry. 4-wheel drive enthusiasts or mountain bikers may want to travel the 100 mile "White Rim Trail" which loops below the Island in the Sky mesa. Reservations for White Rim campsites and backcountry permits are required. (435) 259-4351
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