When to visit
- Very Favourable
What to do
- Worth the detour
- Must see
Canyonlands National Park is a vast wilderness covering almost 1,360 km2 in the heart of the Colorado Plateau.
It is also an endless diversity of dramatic desert landscapes featuring canyons, mesas, and towering rock pinnacles.
Because this park receives fewer visitors than Arches, many of the hiking trails are more rugged and some roads are unpaved.
CANYONLANDS NATIONAL PARK
Season: Open year-round, 24 hours a day.
Visitor Center: The Island in the Sky Visitor Center is open every day from early March until the end of December, and Friday through Tuesday from January to March. Regular opening hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; closes later in high season. Closed on Christmas Day (December 25).
Entry fee: $30/vehicle including occupants. Valid 7 days. Purchase the America the Beautiful Pass for $80 if you plan to visit more than 2-3 parks.
Shuttle service inside the park? No.
The national park is divided into three distinct districts: Island in the Sky, The Maze and The Needles. As visiting more than one of these areas in a single trip is highly impractical, we will focus on Island in the Sky . It is the most accessible district from Moab and offers spectacular views.
Island in the Sky
The "Island in the Sky" is the highest section of the park, with an elevation of 1,800 to 1,900 metres.
This vast, level, triangular mesa offers breathtaking views of the Colorado River and the Green River, across canyons to distant mountain peaks.
GRAND VIEW POINT OVERLOOK
Here you will find the best views in Island in the Sky.
Notice the reddish canyons, which look like a real maze!
SHAFER CANYON OVERLOOK
Shafer Canyon Overlook offers an incredible view of the Shafer Trail , a heart-stopping, serpentine trail once used by cowboys and uranium miners.
You can even drive the Shafer Trail in a 4WD vehicle, but you must check with a ranger first, as it can be dangerous.
Distance (round-trip): 1 km
Time (round-trip: 20 minutes
Don't miss this short twenty-minute hike out to Mesa Arch and back.
You will enjoy stunning views of the canyon far below, framed by the magnificent rocky arch. A great hike for families and the less athletic.
Dead Horse Point State Park
This small gem of a park is a must if you have the time and opportunity to go there. The dramatic view from Dead Horse Point Overlook is one of the most photographed panoramas in the world and makes the trip worthwhile. You will see a vast mesa surrounded by deep canyons overlooking a meander of the Colorado River (the Colorado Gooseneck ) from a height of more than 600 m. Fans of "Thelma and Louise" will be interested to know that this is where the famous scene in which the fugitives drive their car off the edge of the cliff into a canyon was filmed.
According to legend, the park is so named because of its use as a natural corral by cowboys in the 19th century, where a herd of wild mustangs once died of thirst within sight of the Colorado River 600 m below.
As this state park is not part of the national parks network, you will need to pay an entrance fee of about $20 per vehicle (up to 8 occupants, valid for 3 days). The park is open every day of the year from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. The Visitor Center is open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. except Thanksgiving Day (4th Thursday in November), Christmas Day and New Year's Day.
The park is 51.5 km from Moab (about 45 minutes) and right next to the Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands National Park (10 min), so you can easily visit both parks in the same day. Try to go at sunset for stunning colourful vistas. To get there, drive 14.5 km northwest of Moab on the US 191, then take the Utah 313 southwest for 37 km.
Where to eat
- $ Inexpensive
- $$ Moderate
- $$$ Upscale
- $$$$ Fine dining
Quesadilla Mobilla ($)
The diverse menu of the Quesadilla Mobilla food truck offers unique flavours, fresh vegetables, and special blends of meats and spices, served up on a white, whole wheat or gluten-free tortilla. Vegetarian options available. A favourite with the locals for good food at good prices. Don't miss it!
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Miguel’s Baja Grill ($$)
Miguel's Baja Grill is a lively little Mexican restaurant. The owner, Miguel, is from Baja California, Mexico and is known for his traditional dishes such as homemade salsa, tamales, chiles rellenos (stuffed peppers), enchiladas, fajitas, lamb and fish tacos, and much more. We love this restaurant's warm and friendly atmosphere. A great place to eat with family and friends.
Open Monday-Saturday from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Closed in winter, from early December until mid-February.
Sunset Grill ($$-$$$)
The main reason to visit the Sunset Grill is for the amazing view of Moab and the surrounding area. The restaurant is perched on a hilltop in the former home of Moab's most famous millionaire. The food is standard fare and house specialties include the filet mignon, roast duck and prime rib.
Open Monday-Saturday from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Offers free shuttle service from any Moab hotel and back again during normal restaurant hours.
Desert Bistro ($$$-$$$$)
This is the type of gourmet restaurant that you would expect to find in New York! The seasonal menu features innovative southwestern cuisine. One of the best restaurants in Moab, year after year... Let yourself be amazed! Reservations recommended.
Open Wednesday-Monday from 5 p.m.
*** Hours may vary ***
- Very Favourable