4 Districts of Canyonlands National Park - My Utah Parks

4 Districts of Canyonlands National Park

Explore the Needles, Island in the Sky, the Maze, and the Rivers of Canyonlands National Park. Also see two fascinating spots nearby.
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Canyonlands delivers a quintessential desert experience: deep canyons, prehistoric rock art, rivers, and sweeping overlooks.

Canyonlands Needles District

Cedar Mesa Sandstone in Canyonlands Needles District

Cedar Mesa Sandstone in Canyonlands Needles District

Located in the southeastern part of the park, the Needles contains popular hiking trails through a desert decorated with rock spires. It’s also one of the best places for overnight backpacking trips. You’ll find a visitor center, ranger programs, and the Squaw Flat Campground here.

Also gaze at Ancestral Puebloan handprints and other rock art panels.

Canyonlands Island in the Sky District

The Green River in the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park. Courtesy of Moab

The Green River in the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park. Courtesy of Moab

This district has wide views. Rock climb the sandstone towers.

The closest district to Moab, Island in the Sky is the place for rim-side views over deep, vast canyons. Hiking trails to arches and domes descend into this area, and the White Rim Road, popular with mountain bikers and ATVers, circles the district. Contains a visitor center, ranger programs, and Willow Flat Campground.

Canyonlands Maze District

Chocolate Drops in Canyonlands Maze District. Photo by Kait Thomas

Chocolate Drops in Canyonlands Maze District. Photo by Kait Thomas

Explore strikingly remote terrain with deep cairns that are truly a maze.

Experienced hikers visit the untracked Maze area for solitude, scenery, and adventure—trips to this zone usually require several days. There is a ranger station, but no visitor center.

Canyonlands Rivers - the Fourth District

The Colorado and Green rivers wind through the heart of Canyonlands, cutting through layered sandstone to form two deep canyons. In stark contrast to the hot, sunny desert above, the river corridors are remarkably green, shady, and full of life.

Both rivers are calm upstream of the Confluence, ideal for canoes, kayaks and other shallow water craft. Below the Confluence, the combined flow of both rivers spills down Cataract Canyon with remarkable speed and power, creating a world-class stretch of white water.

Other Must See Areas near Canyonlands

Horseshoe Canyon

Horseshoe Canyon petroglyphs by John Fowler via Wikimedia Commons

Horseshoe Canyon Petroglyphs by John Fowler [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Head to this standalone unit northwest of Island in the Sky to see the Great Gallery, one of the country’s best panels of ancient rock art. Hike the strenuous 7-mile (round-trip) trail from the rim to reach the panel.

Dead Horse Point State Park

Sunset in Dead Horse Point State Park. Courtesy of Moab

Sunset in Dead Horse Point State Park. Courtesy of Moab

2,000-foot vertical cliffs meet with canyons carved by ice, water and wind creating a visual masterpiece. Cowboys of the late 1800’s chased wild mustangs onto Dead Horse Point, using the narrow neck to block off the natural corral. An unfortunate event stranding some horses dry within view of the river gave this park its name.

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