Best Month to Visit Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park, located in southeastern Utah, is an incredible natural wonder that offers visitors the opportunity to explore a stunning landscape of red rocks and canyons.

Generally speaking, the best month to visit Canyonlands National Park is April or May when temperatures are milder. But the spring months are a busy time of year so expect crowds!

This Canyonlands National Park guide will help you determine the month that’s best for you to visit for the things you want to see, do, and photograph.

things to do at Canyonlands month by month

To help you decide the best month to visit Canyonlands, we share a list of activities, things to pack, travel tips, and weather information for each month of the year at the park.

Click the graphic below to get your free Canyonlands National Park Itinerary Travel Bundle with 3 days of printable itineraries!

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A Photo Tour of Canyonlands National Park

Take a visual tour through Canyonlands National Park (and Dead Horse Point) to see the stunning landscape in the parks!

Best Month to Visit Canyonlands National Park

Did you know that Canyonlands is subdivided along the Green and Colorado Rivers into four unique districts: Island in the Sky, The Needles, The Maze, and The Rivers.

Of all the districts, we recommend visiting Canyonlands National Park Island in the Sky because it’s the most accessible.

In contrast, when you visit Needles Canyonlands, you’ll experience a remote, backcountry experience with an assortment of natural geologic formations.

Check out our article explaining Canyonlands Island in the Sky vs Needles!

Most of the year you’ll enjoy fun outdoor Canyonlands National Park activities like scenic drives, hiking, biking, river rafting, and photography. During the winter, the activities may be a bit more limited due to cold or snowy conditions!

It’s important to be up-to-date with the current Canyonlands National Park weather and road conditions, especially in the winter.

Here’s our list of tips for visiting Canyonlands National Park every month of the year: general travel information, list of things to do, items to pack, and weather information!

Visiting Canyonlands in the spring

Spring Months at Canyonlands National Park

When visiting Canyonlands in the spring you’ll find the weather is “just right” to enjoy the outdoors. Check out the fun things you can do during the spring months of March, April, and May:

But Canyonlands gets crowded during the peak spring season. The first part of March is your best bet to avoid the crowds when it’s spring break in Utah.

Now for the breakdown of what to expect at Canyonlands each month in the spring.

March Vacation to Canyonlands

When visiting Canyonlands National Park in March, the highs are near 64 and the lows around 35 degrees F. The weather can be unpredictable if a storm rolls through with rain, and even snow.

Check the forecast and be prepared for winter weather just in case: insulated jacket, fleece jacket, waterproof hiking boots, gloves, winter hat.

April Vacation to Canyonlands

Canyonlands National Park in April is an ideal time to visit as temperatures are mild to enjoy all the fun outdoor activities. Average highs are near 70 degrees with the lows around 40 degrees F.

The Island in the Sky scenic drive is a must! We recommend the Canyonlands GuideAlong App to hear fun behind-the-scenes stories and local tips that play automatically as you drive, based on your GPS location.

May Vacation to Canyonlands

You can expect highs near 82 and lows near 51 degrees F at Canyonlands National Park in May.

Some of our favorite Island in the Sky hikes include Mesa Arch, Grand View Point, Aztec Butte and Upheaval Dome.

Canyonlands Needles hikes that are easy: Roadside Ruin, Pothole Point, Cave Spring. There are a few popular difficult hikes as well: Chelser Park Loop and Druid Arch trails.

Canyonlands in the summer

Summer Months at Canyonlands National Park

If you’re planning to visit Canyonlands in the summer, there are things you need to know before going since it’s a HOT time of year there! Check out the fun things you can do during the summer months of June, July, and August:

The summer months are not our favorite time because it will be hot and crowded. Be sure to stay hydrated by carrying refillable water bottles, wear UV wicking clothing, apply sunscreen to all exposed skin, and you’ll want lip balm and lotion since Canyonlands is in a dry desert environment!

Now for the breakdown of what to expect at Canyonlands each month in the summer.

June Vacation to Canyonlands

The temperatures at Canyonlands National Park in June are hot with highs around 93 and lows around 60 degrees F.

The Colorado and Green Rivers offer miles and miles of flatwater for canoes, sea kayaks and shallow-water boats. There are also sections for whitewater river rafting!

In June the water might still feel a bit cold, especially in the morning. But the water flow is high so it’s the perfect time to enjoy the river section of Canyonlands!

There are Canyonlands Rafting Tours to enjoy half-day to week-long guided trips with several nights of camping.

July Vacation to Canyonlands

Expect highs in the 100s and lows near 67 degrees F at Canyonlands National Park in July ! You won’t find many shady spots in the park so we suggest you plan your outdoor activities like hiking in the cooler mornings and evenings.

You can enjoy the scenic drives in your car with the AC running, or the hotel swimming pool during the heat of the day.

August Vacation to Canyonlands

It’s still hot at Canyonlands National Park in August  with highs around 97 and lows around 66 degrees F.

You can’t beat stargazing at Canyonlands! The slogan “Half the Park is After Dark” invites you to take one evening to enjoy a star-filled sky! In August you can see the milky way from 9:30 pm to 1:30 am.

Canyonlands is a popular destination for astrophotographers so you won’t be alone in the park at night. Be sure to use a headlamp with a red light!

Canyonlands in the fall

Fall Months at Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands in the fall is a very busy season so be prepared for crowds. Check out the fun things you can do during the fall months of September, October, and November:

With the cooler temperatures at night and the early mornings, especially late fall, be sure to dress in layers and carry a fleece jacket, winter hat, and winter gloves.

Early fall is a terrific time for Canyonlands National Park camping when it’s not too hot, too cold, or rainy!

Now for the breakdown of what to expect at Canyonlands each month in the fall.

September Vacation to Canyonlands

The fall season begins at Canyonlands National Park in September. Expect highs around 88 and lows around 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sunrise and sunset are always the best times of day for Canyonlands National Park Photography:

  • Canyonlands sunrise photo spots at Island in the Sky: Grand View Point and Mesa Arch
  • Canyonlands sunset photo spots at Island in the Sky: Colorado River Overlook and nearby Dead Horse Point!

Stop at all the viewpoints along the scenic drive at Island in the Sky to capture stunning landscapes.

October Vacation to Canyonlands

The temperatures at Canyonlands National Park in October are just right with highs about 70 degrees with the lows around 40.  

For an experience of a lifetime try driving the Shafer Trail! It’s a challenging, unpaved backcountry road in Island in the Sky that connects with Moab.

There are also fun 4×4 trail at Needles Canyonlands, but check to see if you’ll need a permit for the trail you want to drive. High-clearance 4WD vehicles with a low range gear (4LO) are required on all off-road trails in Canyonlands. ATVs, OHVs, or UTVs are not permitted inside the park.

These trails should not be attempted by inexperienced drivers since there is a high risk of vehicle damage that could lead to towing costs in excess of $1,000! You might want to book a Canyonlands 4WD Tour.

November Vacation to Canyonlands

You’ll enjoy highs around 56 and lows around 30 degrees F at Canyonlands National Park in November. It’s usually a dry month, but there may be rain storm here and there.

You can ride on any public roadway at The Needles and Island in the Sky. You must ride single file. There are no road shoulders or bike lanes. You’ll find hundreds of miles of roads for mountain biking for day trips and overnight trips:

If you’ll be riding on 4WD roads, there are no shoulders or bike lanes so be aware of passing vehicles.

Canyonlands in the winter

Winter Months at Canyonlands National Park

Check out the fun things you can do during the winter months of December, January, and February:

Services are limited or closed in the winter – there is no gas, food, or lodging at Canyonlands National Park Island in the Sky or Needles Canyonlands.

Know what Canyonlands winter services are available as well as road and trail conditions before heading into the parks.

Remember that both areas of the park are remote locations so always be prepared with water, food and proper clothing so you can be self-reliant.

After a snow storm, paved roads may close temporarily so crews can plow. Unpaved backcountry roads may be impassible for longer periods of time so check road conditions before you head out!

Now for the breakdown of what to expect at Canyonlands each month in the winter.

December Vacation to Canyonlands

We enjoy the winter months because it’s nice to explore Canyonlands without the crowds and daytime heat you find in the summer.

But the weather in December can be unpredictable with snow and cold temperatures so it’s not for everyone. The average highs are around 45 degrees with the lows around 23 degrees F.

Pack winter hiking gear and dress in layers when visiting in the winter. The hiking trails remain open year-round, but you may encounter snow and ice which may require traction devices and trekking poles. 

January Vacation to Canyonlands

The weather at Canyonlands National Park in January   is cold and can be unpredictable. The average highs are near 40 degrees with the lows near 20 degrees F.

The only option for Canyonlands winter camping is at Willow Flat Campground. It’s a small campground with only 12 sites that is fully operational all year.

You’ll also find great off season rates at the hotels near Canyonlands National Park!

February Vacation to Canyonlands

The average highs at Canyonlands National Park in February are near 52 degrees with the lows near 28 degrees F.

Take warm winter clothing and dress in layers so you’ll actually want to get out of the car when you get to the trailhead. Wear waterproof hiking boots so you don’t get soggy feet!

After a snow storm, the park road might be closed for plowing for a few hours. Keep in mind that the roads, parking lots, and pullouts in the park can still be icy, especially in shaded areas. You can see current weather conditions on the NPS website.

Arches Canyonlands guides and maps

BUY AT AMAZON: Arches and Canyonlands Guides and Maps

Packing List for Canyonlands

Be sure to use a Canyonlands packing list so you have the right clothing and gear to enjoy all the outdoor activities any time of year! Grab your free printable packing list by clicking the image below!

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