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Canyonlands National Park Travel Guide

Some of the best National Parks are located in Utah. Canyonlands National Park isn’t the most popular of the parks in the State but it is absolutely a must visit destination. This park is a 30 minute drive from neighboring Moab, Utah and a perfect place to pair with neighboring Arches National Park and Dead Horse State Park. This park brings amazing canyon views that rival the Grand Canyon.

Red and purple canyon cliffs in front of the snow capped mountain range backdrop of Moab

Best Places to Visit

Mesa Arch - the iconic location for Sunrise. Follow the path on this short .7mi hike to the edge of the cliff where you will see the Arch. Be sure to get here at least 45 minutes prior to the sunrise if you want to get a “good” viewing spot. There will be tons of photographers and tripods. Usually the crowd dissipates about 30 minutes after sunrise and you can snap a photo underneath the arch.

The sunrise glow on Mesa Arch and the canyon view below
Hiker sitting under the Mesa Arch enjoying sunrise on the clff

Green River Overlook - this is a great overlook which doesn’t require more than a 30 second walk from the parking lot. There are some amazing cliff edges that will require a few minutes of off the path walking. Be sure to be VERY cautious when walking off trail.

Hiker standing on the edge of the cliff overlooking the canyon floor
Man sitting on the ledge of the cliff at Canyonlands National Park

Shafer Trail - one of the coolest roads you can drive in any National Park. This 20 mile drive will bring you on a windy switch back road down into the valley and parallel to the Green River. The trail takes about 2-3 hours and is recommended for 4x4 vehicles only.

car driving down the off road Shafer Trail along high rock cliff walls

Potash Evaporation Ponds - these colorful salt ponds offer contrasting and vibrant blue and white colors in the middle of the red rock desert. Shafer Trail will bring you on path right next to this amazing sight. Park and find a rock hill to climb up to get a better aerial view of this magnificent location. (Pro Tip - visit neighboring Dead Horse State Park to see the highest view of this spot)

vibrant blue and white salt ponds on the canyon floor of the surrounding red rock mountains

Shafer Trail Overlook - the overlook before you drive down into the canyon makes for an excellent look out location

man sitting on the ledge of the shafer trail canyon overlook with snow capped mountains in the background
twlight blue hour photo of the shafer trail and canyon floor

Grand View Point Overlook and White Rim Overlook - a 1.8 mile hike will bring you to some amazing views of the deep canyons and green river.

Deep canyons along with red rock mountains along the Green River

Best Places to Stay

Camping in the Park - there aren’t that many places to camp so be sure to book reservations to the campsites well in advance

BLM Camping - there is a ton of BLM land (Bureau of Land Management) where you can find great camping locations

Glamping - if you are looking to enjoy the outdoors but not really in to the idea of camping, check out Under Canvas which will give you a great opportunity to camp while enjoying your own bed and bathroom.

Hotels - Moab is only 30 minutes away and has plenty of hotel options.

  1. SpringHill Suites has a great pool and perfect for families.

  2. Hoodoo Moab is a more modern and classy option.

Best Places to Eat

There is very limited food options once you enter the Park. If you are camping or spending a full day in the park you will certainly want to bring lots of food and water. There are plenty of places to stock up in Moab before the trip.

Best time to Visit

Utah gets VERY hot in the summer. The best time to come to this National Parks is Spring and Fall for milder temperatures to better enjoy the outdoors. Winter will be cold but you may catch a snow storm which makes for a unique look against all of the red rock terrain.

Milkyway and night stars over the Mesa Arch in Moab
Man taking a photo of the red and purple rock and snow capped mountains in Canyonlands National Park
Aerial view of the little cars driving through the shafer dirt trail next to big cliff red mountains
car parked on path of the shafer trail next to the vibrant blue and white salt flats in the red rock canyons
top down photo of the vibrant blue and white salt flats in Utah


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