Canyonlands is a Day-Hiker's Paradise

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Mesa Arch at Sunrise in Canyonlands National Park

Mesa Arch at Sunrise in Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park is slickrock country filled with both day-hiking and backcountry exploration opportunities. The Island in the Sky and Needles regions of the park have hundreds of miles of pleasant walks, day hikes and backcountry trails.

Here's a sampling:

The Mesa Arch Trail is easy, only half a mile round-trip, which leads to a widely photographed arch. From various positions, the arch frames distant mountains, the Colorado River below and the Washer Woman Arch.

A moderate hike is found on the Aztec Butte Trail -- 2 miles round-trip to the top of a sandstone dome. A side trail leads to an archeological site.

Syncline Loop, at 8.3 miles is a strenuous hike into the backcountry. Blisteringly hot in the summer, it offers stunning views of Upheaval Dome or the Green River.

Most of the longer trails on the Island start on top of the mesa, then take switch-backs to reach the White Rim bench below. These strenuous hikes drop 1,000-2,000 feet and involve scrambling over steep slopes of loose rock.

In the Needles district, hikers can venture out to Tower Ruin, Confluence Overlook, Elephant Hill, the Joint Trail, and Chesler Park. There's 60 miles of interconnecting trails, with opportunities for day hikes and multi-day backpacking.

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