Canyonlands National Park Fall Hikes

Hiking is a terrific way to explore the stunning beauty of Canyonlands. Here’s a list of the best Canyonlands National Park fall hikes that range from easy to challenging.

This Canyonlands National Park guide will detail the best fall hiking trails, tips for fall hiking, what to pack, where to stay, and more!

Fall hikes at Canyonlands Island in the Sky and Needles

Hiking in the fall at Canyonlands is a terrific time of year for exploring the trails. It’s considered the busy season so be prepared for crowds.

It’s important to stay hydrated, use sun protection, and get the latest weather information before hitting the trails at Canyonlands during the fall months!

We’ve made it easy for you to plan your Canyonlands National Park fall activities and fall hikes with these done-for-you 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!

Visiting Canyonlands National Park in the Fall

When visiting in the fall, the Canyonlands National Park weather and moderate temperatures make it perfect for hiking:

Fall is a great time to explore the park because it will be cool in the mornings and evenings, and the daytime temperatures aren’t too hot compared to the summer.

Tips for Fall Hiking at Canyonlands

Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll or an adventurous hike, you’ll find a Canyonlands hike you can enjoy in the fall. It’s important to be prepared with the right clothing and gear for fall hiking at Canyonlands!

Fall Clothing for Hiking at Canyonlands

Early fall will still be hot and dry. Late fall you’ll enjoy moderate temperatures. The mornings and evenings will be cold!

Fall Hiking Gear for Canyonlands

Here’s the fall hiking gear we recommend:

fall hiking gear

Canyonlands Fall Hikes at Island in the Sky

Here are the Island in the Sky hikes we recommend in the fall to see panoramic views and incredible scenery at this district of Canyonlands.

Mesa Arch at Canyonlands
Mesa Arch

Mesa Arch Fall Hike

We recommend this easily accessible hike that is less than half a mile from the parking lot. The Mesa Arch trail will take you about thirty minutes and leads to the spectacular cliff-edge arch.

This is one of the most iconic landmarks and Canyonlands sunrise photo spots at Island in the Sky so the area will be crowded at that time. If you’re willing to stay AFTER sunrise, we usually end up with the arch to ourselves!

Mesa Arch is a great place for stargazing and taking Milky Way photos. Enjoying Canyonlands at night is a fun experience – be sure to use a headlamp for hiking in the dark!

Canyonlands Grand View Point sunrise
Grand View Point sunrise

Grand View Point Fall Hike

From Grand View Point you’ll see the white-rimmed canyons carved out by the Colorado River.

The Grand View Point trail is an easy in-and-out hike that follows the canyon edge of Island in the Sky mesa and takes about an hour and a half. You can hike 1.8 miles to reach the southern tip of this overlook for one of Utah’s most spectacular views.

Grand View Point is one of our favorite Canyonlands sunrise photo spots and stargazing spots at Island in the Sky!

Canyonlands White Rim
Canyonlands White Rim

White Rim Overlook Fall Hike

Near the south end of the Canyonlands Island in the Sky district you’ll find the White Rim Overlook. Plan an hour and a half to complete the hike. There is extremely limited trailhead parking here but it’s worth it for the spectacular panoramic view from the overlook.

The overlook gets its name from the layer of white sandstone that forms at the edges of the canyon rim. The contrast of the white rock against the surrounding shades of red-orange cliffs is exquisite. It is best viewed in the late afternoon.

Murphy Point Fall Hike

If you’re looking for a longer fall hike, Murphy Point provides excellent wide views off the western end of Island in the Sky. Downhill most of the way, this Islands in the Sky hike leads you past a historic corral on the mesa top.

You’ll enjoy panoramic views of the Green River, Candlestick Tower, and the White Rim Road.

Upheaval Dome
Upheaval Dome

Upheaval Dome Fall Hike

To truly appreciate this unique feature, you’ll need to see in person. It’s a crater 3 miles wide and 1000 feet deep with rocks pushed together in the center to make a dome-shaped structure.

The Upheaval Dome Trail in total is 1.7 miles. It’s a short, steep hike under 1 mile to the first overlook; the second overlook adds a mile. You can read all about the dome at the exhibits at the end of the trail.  

whale rock canyonlands
Whale Rock

Whale Rock Fall Hike

The Whale Rock hike leads you up the side of a large, rounded sandstone rock that some would say resembles a whale. This trail is a fun one to climb and the handrails make it easier to navigate.

The Whale Rock Trail rewards you with broad views of the Canyonlands Island in the Sky.

Aztec Butte granaries at Canyonlands Island in the Sky
Aztec Butte granaries

Aztec Butte Fall Hike

This fall hike is worth the effort to see ancient ruins! The Aztec Butte trail is short but challenging at times since you’ll be required to hike up ledges and slickrock.

Early on, the trail splits with Aztec Butte to the right and another smaller butte to the left before dropping below the rim to see two Puebloan structures called granaries. These are a unique find and both have been well-preserved.

The hike is 1.8 miles if you continue to the second butte, 1.3 miles if you skip it. View structures from a distance; entering, touch and climbing on the sites is prohibited.

view from Syncline Loop Trail at Canyonlands
View from Syncline Loop Trail

Syncline Loop Fall Hike

Before heading out on the difficult Syncline Loop Trail, check conditions with the Visitor Center. Be sure to carry plenty of water, a flashlight, and a map.

The trail follows the canyons around Upheaval Dome. With a steep 1,300-foot elevation change, Syncline Loop requires experienced hikers to navigate sharp ledges, massive boulders, and steep slickrock. Rewarding in the end, this hike is not for the inexperienced.

Gooseberry Canyon Fall Hike

Gooseberry Canyon descends an incredible 1500 vertical feet. The views and scenery here are stunning but it will challenge your hiking abilities, only experienced hikers in great shape should tackle this trail.

Remember, if you go down, you’ll have to venture back up. The Gooseberry Canyon trail is unique because you hike below the level of the mesa, instead of viewing from overlooks above. When you’re at the bottom don’t forget to look up to see how far you’ve hiked.

Canyonlands Fall Hikes at The Needles

The Needles Canyonlands district makes up the southeast corner of Canyonlands National Park and gets its name from the hundreds of colorful spires that dominate the area.

Due to the remote area of this part of the park, you’ll need to pack everything you need and be prepared to be self-reliant!

We recommend you talk to the rangers before exploring any Canyonlands Needles hikes in the fall.

Roadside Ruin at Needles Canyonlands
Roadside Ruin

Roadside Ruin Fall Hike

This easy, kid-friendly trail is short with only a few stone steps to navigate. The Roadside Ruin trail is highly trafficked but in good condition. Here you’ll get to see a Puebloan-era storage structure that was once used to store food.

The Roadside Ruin trail guide explains the ruins and points out the native plants you’ll see along the way.

Pothole Point hike at Canyonlands
Pothole Point hike

Pothole Point Fall Hike

Although short, this trail is uphill and has uneven footing so might be considered moderate for some. Pothole Point is a short loop trail that crosses communities of sandstones with natural depressions called potholes.

To preserve these delicate potholes, it’s important to walk around them and avoid putting anything in them, even when they are dry. There are no trail guides, but small rock piles (cairns) show the way. Panoramic views from the trail are memorable and this trail offers one of the best viewpoints of the Needles.

Cowboy Camp Cave Spring Trail
Cowboy Camp

Cave Spring Trail Fall Hike

There’s a lot to see on the Cave Spring trail – a short loop that winds around a white and red sandstone mesa. You’ll pass Cave Spring, prehistoric rock paintings, well-preserved pictographs, and a historic cowboy camp with many original artifacts on display.

Be aware there are two wooden ladders to climb to reach the 360-degree panoramic view of the Needles district. This trail is easy for those who have no problem climbing the two ladders and the sandstone rock, but might be challenging for children or the elderly. It is recommended that you take the trail clockwise so you’re climbing up instead of down the ladders.

Ladder along the Cave Spring Trail

Slickrock Foot Trail Fall Hike

Grab a Slickrock Trail brochure at the trailhead to help you identify the landmarks along the way. It’s a moderate trail with most of the hike on the hard slickrock surface that gives the trail its name. This trail offers stunning views of the canyons and the Needles.

We recommend the spurs to the 4 great overlooks to see amazing views. This is a good beginner hike with lots of potential for exploring, the strategically placed cairns make it easy to pick the trail back up.

It’s best to hike this trail in the morning or evening as you are exposed to the sun on this hike.

Chesler Park Trail at Needles Canyonlands
Chesler Park Trail

Chesler Park Loop Trail Fall Hike

This moderate trail is fun and popular because of its diversity in the landscape. The Needles Chesler Loop Trail has you climbing up and down over rock formations, through sand and various rock terrain, slit canyons, and grasslands. This is a beautiful trail with lots to explore and stunning panoramic views of the Needles.

Druid Arch at Needles Canyonlands
Druid Arch

Druid Arch Fall Hike

A favorite of the Canyonlands Needles hikes, Druid Arch is located about 5 ½ miles from the Elephant Hill Trailhead and offers one of the most spectacular views in the Needles district.

The Druid Arch trail will have you scrambling through high desert, canyons, a maze of needles, up a steep ladder and a rock wall to get to the arch.

Confluence Overlook Fall Hike

Crossing through Big Spring Canyon, the Confluence Overlook Trail takes you through miles of open desert, areas of slickrock and deep packed sand, and ends at a dramatic cliff overlook with magnificent panoramic views of the Colorado and Green River confluence.

These two rivers define the three districts of Canyonlands National Park. At the overlook you can see the two rivers 1,000 feet below for a grand view. Make sure to check out the colored sandstone spires and a huge red butte along the trail.

Squaw Canyon to Lost Canyon Loop Fall Hike

The Squaw Canyon / Lost Canyon loop trail is combined for a pleasant hike that’ll take you over sandstone hills and slickrock, through a creek crossing, up a ladder, and through some challenging sections as you navigate between the two canyons.

You’ll see spectacular views and diversity along the trail. Slickrock, grasslands, tree-lined canyons, mesas, buttes, and mountains can all be seen from this scenic trail. Backcountry campsites are available at both Lost Canyon and Squaw Canyon, but a permit is required.

Arches Canyonlands guides and maps

BUY AT AMAZON: Arches and Canyonlands Guides and Maps

Fall Hiking Ideas

Places to Stay at Canyonlands in the Fall

There are no lodging facilities in the park, but there are campgrounds:

Canyonlands National Park Fall Packing List

Use our Canyonlands Packing List to make sure you have the right clothing and gear for visiting in the fall! Grab your free printable packing checklist by clicking the image below!

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