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.


Cedar Mesa Sandstone in Canyonlands Needles District

4 Districts of Canyonlands National Park

Explore the Needles, Island in the Sky, the Maze, and the Rivers of Canyonlands National Park. But don't miss these two fascinating spots nearby.

Sheep Creek Connecting Trail in Bryce Canyon's Swamp Canyon. Photo by Elisabeth Kwak

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The overlooks are just the beginning. Venture deeper into Bryce Canyon on one of these excellent day trips for even more spectacular views.

A hiker in Spooky Gulch in Grand Staircase Escalente National Monument

Top 5 Southern Utah Hikes

Play the slots and explore slickrock wonderlands in Canyonlands, Grand Gulch, Zion, and Grand Staircase Escalante. Squeeze through Peek-a-boo Gulch.

Mesa Arch at Sunrise in Canyonlands National Park

Natural Rock Arches in Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands has more than 80 natural arches. Its most famous is Mesa Arch.

Solo hiker in the Zion Narrows in Zion National Park in Utah

Hiking the Virgin River through Zion Narrows

This slot canyon in Zion National Park, is the premier and most accessible slot canyon in the Southwest. Hikers can take the easy, moderate or challenging route.

A hiker near the top of Angels Landing in Zion National Park, holding onto the chains and taking a selfie photo.

Hiking Angels Landing in Zion National Park

Angels Landing soars 1,488 ft above the Virgin River. Reach the summit and your reward is a spectacular view of Zion Canyon and surrounding cliffs.


Official Canyonlands National Park Map PDF

A very specific and useful map of Canyonlands National Park showing roads and entrances.

Boat Mountain and hoodoos from Sunrise Point in Bryce Canyon

7 Top Views in Bryce Canyon National Park

Hoodoos, arches, and fins galore. See Bryce Canyon National Park’s best views and rock formations from these favorite scenic overlooks.

The white domes of the Navajo formation are stop #10 on the Capitol Reef scenic drive.

Perfect Day in Capitol Reef National Park

Known for its incredible red-rock formations and its fruit orchard, Capitol Reef National Park is a fantastic place to spend a day or more exploring.