Canyonlands National Park

Located in south eastern Utah’s desert, the Colorado River and its tributaries have carved the Canyonlands National Park’s landscape into deep canyons, steep cliffs and gorgeous vistas. Its more than 335,598 acres of natural beauty.

There are four districts in Canyonlands National Park:
1. The Island in the Sky
2. The Needles
3. The Maze
4. Horseshoe Canyon Unit

We visited The Island in the Sky and The Needles. Since there are no direct roads connecting the districts, there are two separate entrances to the Canyonlands National Park. Traveling between the districts takes between two to six hours.

The Needles

Named after the colorful spires of Cedar Mesa sandstone that dominate this area of Canyonlands National Park.

—Squaw Flat  

Set amidst fascinating rock formations, the campground here has drinking water and flush toilet facilities. However there are no showers.

—Wooden Shoe Arch Overlook  

300 million years ago, there was an inland sea in Canyonlands National Park. As the water evaporated, it left behind a giant salt basin where many sedimentary layers were deposited. That included red sediments as well as white coastal sediments. These gave rise to the red and white Cedar Mesa sandstone. The buried salt shifted under the sandstone leading to fractures. Weathering along such fractures as resulted in the formation of the Wooden Shoe Arch.

—Pothole Point 

Named after the numerous potholes visitors encounter on this short 0.6 mile trail. The potholes trap rainwater, which being acidic slowly enlarges the pothole.

—Big Spring Canyon Overlook 

At an elevation of 4,880 feet, this viewpoint offers panoramic views of Canyonlands National Park.

The Island in the Sky 

The most accessible district of Canyonlands National Park, The Island in the Sky is the easiest area to visit in a short period of time. The mesa rests on sandstone cliffs 1,000 feet above the surrounding terrain.

—Tracks in the Canyon

Roads and seismic lines were created in the 1950s in search of uranium and oil. Mining and grazing activities were more rampant earlier in Canyonlands National Park. But these activities have long ceased and the desert vegetation has been allowed to flourish and take hold.

—Grand View Point Overlook 

The Colorado River has cut into the canyon so deeply that it is not visible from here. With the LaSal and Abajo Mountains in the background, look for landmarks such as Totem Pole, Monument Basin and White Rim.

—Green River Overlook 

At an elevation of 6,000 feet landmarks that can be viewed here include Orange Cliffs, Turk’s Head and Cleopatra’s Chair.