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Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park

The Colorado River and the Green River flow together in the heart of Canyonlands, creating a rippled landscape with deep red-walled canyons, arches, buttes, spires, and innumerable other spectacular rock formations. Canyonlands is so large and so diverse that it is carved naturally into three distinctive districts: Island in the Sky, The Needles, and The Maze. While they adjoin each other, each area must be reached from different entry points. The travel time between each of the three districts is several hours.

There are no restaurants or hotel accommodations in the park.

Visitor Centers

Canyonlands National Park is open year-round, 24 hours a day. Each district has its own visitor center; operating hours change with the seasons. Check the park’s website for the most current information.

Essential Details

Travel to Canyonlands usually requires a car. Once in the park, each district offers paved, unpaved, or 4WD roads and hiking trails to see the area’s attractions. Food, gas, lodging, and similar services are not available.

To truly appreciate this geologic fantasyland, allow four or five days to explore the three districts. Leave Moab with a full tank of gas or fully charged EV, food, lots of water, a spare tire, and sun protection.

Canyon country is not a friend to cell phones, so don’t rely on your phone’s map to guide you in the park. Once you enter Canyonlands, cellular service diminishes greatly, especially in the canyons (and away from the pavement).

Pets are not allowed on any trails or at any overlooks. Leashed and restrained pets may accompany visitors in the campgrounds or at pullouts along the paved scenic drives.

The use of unmanned aircrafts (drones) is prohibited.

Island in the Sky

The wide, high plateau has commanding views of deep red-rock canyons in all directions. Travel 10 miles north of Moab on US Hwy 191 to Utah Hwy 313, then southwest 22 miles to the visitor center.

Island in the Sky has about 20 miles of paved road and some unpaved roads with several viewing points. It is the most accessible district and the easiest to visit in a short period of time.

The Needles

In the southeast region of the park, 76 miles south of Moab (about 90 minutes), is the heart of rock country, offering many opportunities for exploring. The Needles district has only eight miles of paved roads but more than 60 miles of interconnecting hiking trails and rugged 4WD roads.

The Maze

West of the rivers, this is the wildest and most remote section of the national park. This district of Canyonlands requires a 4WD vehicle, time, and self-sufficiency. The Hans Flat Ranger Station in The Maze is a three-hour drive west from Moab via Interstate 70. Visitors should check road conditions before making the trip.

There are no paved roads, amenities, food, gas, or charging units in The Maze.

Backcountry Permits

Activities requiring a backcountry permit include backpacking, mountain bike camping, horseback riding, river trips, and 4WD overnight and day use.
Permits (other than river) can be reserved at Unreserved permits may be available at district visitor centers.

Day-use permits are required for all vehicles, including motorcycles and bicycles, on White Rim, Elephant Hill, Lavender Canyon, and Peekaboo/Horse Canyon roads.

For a river trip, visit the river permit page of the park’s website.

The park website has helpful planning videos about all these activities.


Canyonlands has two campgrounds:


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