Canyonlands delivers a quintessential desert experience: deep canyons, prehistoric rock art, rivers, and sweeping overlooks.
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.
You can also gaze at Ancestral Puebloan handprints and other rock art panels.
Canyonlands Island in the Sky District
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.
The district also attracts rock climbers to its sandstone towers. You’ll find a a visitor center, ranger programs and Willow Flat Campground.
Canyonlands Maze District
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
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
Two-thousand-foot vertical cliffs meet with canyons carved by ice, water and wind creating a visual masterpiece at this state park just 32 miles from Moab. You’ll find yourself standing at the top of these vertical cliffs in what is one of the most photographed places in the world.
Cowboys of the late 1800s chased wild mustangs onto Dead Horse Point, using the narrow neck to block off the natural corral. When some horses were stranded without access to water within view of the Colorado River, this point received its name.
Today a number of hiking trails and mountain biking trails depart from Dead Horse State Park, making for a great place to explore Utah’s desert landscapes.
Need a map? Download an official Canyonlands National Park map for basic road and attraction locations. Or buy the NatGeo Trails Illustrated Map for Canyonlands National Park at REI.com. The topographic map includes trails, trailheads, points of interest, campgrounds, lakes and much more. The complete Utah National Parks Map Pack with five topographic maps is also available. All of the NatGeo maps are printed on waterproof, tear-resistant material.