Visiting Canyonlands National Park in April

Located in Utah, Canyonlands has miles of trails, canyons, rivers, and mesas to explore. Canyonlands National Park in April is one of the best times to visit due to the moderate temperatures.

Canyonlands National Park in the spring is a popular season so expect crowds! There will be more people on the trails, busy campsites, and crowded scenic viewpoints with photographers.

visiting Canyonlands National Park in April

Use this Canyonlands National Park guide to plan your April vacation: things to do, what to pack, where to stay, and more! Living only a few hours away from Canyonlands, we’ve had the opportunity to visit many times during every season. The tips we share are based on our experiences visiting Canyonlands National Park throughout the years, and specifically for the month of April!

Tip number one: be prepared for the weather and temperatures so you’re able to enjoy the outdoor activities you want to do at Canyonlands! Use our Canyonlands Packing List to make sure you have the right clothing and gear for visiting in April! Grab your free printable packing checklist by clicking the image below!

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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!

Canyonlands National Park in April

Canyonlands National Park is open 24/7, but always check the updated Canyonlands operating hours for Visitor Centers and services.

Canyonlands is subdivided, along the Green and Colorado Rivers, into four unique districts: Canyonlands National Park Island in the Sky, Needles Canyonlands, The Maze, and The Rivers.

Of all the districts in Canyonlands National Park, we recommend visiting Island in the Sky because it’s the most accessible and offers fantastic, panoramic views of the park along the scenic drive.

Take a short side trip to visit Dead Horse Point State Park near the entrance to Island in the Sky. It is a must-see location!

In contrast, when you visit The Needles Canyonlands, you’ll experience a remote, backcountry experience with an assortment of natural geologic formations that can only be reached by using one of the many Canyonlands hiking trails or four-wheel driving trails.

Canyonlands Weather in April

The April Canyonlands National Park weather is pretty much perfect with cooler mornings and evenings, and moderate daytime temperatures. The average highs are near 70 degrees with the lows around 40. Keep in mind the weather can be unpredictable if a storm rolls through with rain.

Dress in layers when visiting Canyonlands in April:

If you’re not used to Utah’s dry air, you’ll also want lip balm and lotion!

spring hiking gear

Is April a Good Time to Visit Canyonlands National Park?

The Utah National Parks in the spring get crowded, especially at Canyonlands, Arches and the Moab area in general. There will be lines to get into the park, especially on the weekends.

You’ll also find cars circling the parking lots looking for a place to park, and the points of interest will be packed with people.

Spring is one of the best times to Visit Canyonlands National Park, so don’t avoid planning your trip this time of year. You can beat the crowds into the park by going in the morning, or even later in the afternoon.

The times are sunrise and sunset provide the best light for taking Canyonlands National Park shotos anyway!! It’s a win/win to avoid the crowds and get stunning pictures!

Things to Do at Canyonlands in April

Check out all the fun Canyonlands National Park spring activities you can do during the month of April.

There are fun ways to get everyone excited before, during and after the trip with National Park activities:

Canyonlands Visitor Centers in April

The Canyonlands Island in the Sky Visitor Center and Needles Visitor Center are open every day in April. The park rangers are there to give you tips and ideas on all the things to do in the park.

You’ll also find exhibits, book and map sales, backcountry permits, picnic area, and general information. Water is available year-round.

The park ranger is available to give information about things you are interested in seeing and doing. The Canyonlands Ranger Programs available in April at Island in the Sky: Geology Talk, Patio Talk, Evening Program, and Full Moon Hikes. And at Needles: Cave Spring Guided Walk and Evening Program or Constellation Tour.

If you’re visiting Canyonlands National Park with kids, be sure to grab the Junior Ranger booklet so they can earn their Junior Ranger Badge!

hiking at canyonlands in the spring
Cave Spring Trail at Needles

Canyonlands Hiking in April

In April the Canyonlands National Park spring hikes are so nice because the sun is out and it’s not overly hot. This is quite different from summer when you’re sweating and worrying about heat exhaustion.

It’s important to stay hydrated (water bottles or hydration backpacks) and wear sunscreen!

Most of the hiking trails in both parks are fully exposed to the sun, which is perfect for your visit in April since you aren’t really worrying about finding shade! Here’s a list of easy hike at both districts:

Check with the visitor’s center for the most current trail conditions. Canyonlands backcountry permits are required for hiking these trails.

Canyonlands Green River Overlook
Green River Overlook

Canyonlands Scenic Drives in April

The Island in the Sky scenic drive is a must-do activity! Stop at all 10 overlooks to enjoy and take pictures of the views seen atop the mesa in this part of the park!

Driving through Needles Canyonlands the views will be much different since you won’t be looking down into the canyons. Instead, you’ll see colorful stone spires, or needles as you stop at the various pullouts in the park.

Check out these two scenic drives to see different views of Island in the Sky and Needles!

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.

Mesa Arch at sunrise
Mesa Arch at sunrise

Photography at Canyonlands in April

Spring photography at Canyonlands is so rewarding, especially at sunrise and sunset. The colors are vibrant and the light creates a spectacular glow on the red rocks that cannot be missed. We do most of our sunrise and sunset photography at Island in the Sky.

We recommend taking pictures in the morning when the sun isn’t so harsh. If it’s a cloudy day then you’ll be able to take pictures all day!

  • 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!

CHECK OUT our Arches and Canyonlands photography guide to know the best places to take sunrise, sunset and night photos! We share the best photography spots at each park for sunrise, sunset and even night time…and give you our favorite 3 day itinerary! 

Milky Way over Mesa Arch
Milky Way over Mesa Arch

Canyonlands Stargazing in April

Definitely take one evening to stay after the sun set and LOOK UP! The slogan “Half the Park is After Dark” encourages visiting at night to simply Look up! On a clear night, the sky is literally filled with stars.

In April you can see the milky way from 1 to 5 -ish am. A bit early for most, but rewarding for those who want to make the effort! 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 so you don’t disturb other photographers in the area.

Canyonlands National Park is internationally recognized as one of the best places for stargazing because of its remote location, accessibility, altitude and clear skies.

Offroading at Canyonlands
Offroading at Canyonlands

Canyonlands 4×4 Trails in April

There are fun 4×4 trails at Island in the Sky and Needles. At Island in the Sky we recommend driving the Shafer Trail! If you have the right vehicle, it’s a challenging, unpaved backcountry road in Island in the Sky that connects with Moab.

The 4×4 trails at Needles Canyonlands require high-clearance 4WD vehicles with a low range gear (4LO). Also check to see if you’ll need a permit for the trail you want to drive.

ATVs, OHVs, or UTVs are not permitted inside the park. The 4×4 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!

Canyonlands Tours in April

One of the best ways to get to know the park is booking a Canyonlands National Park tour! You’ll find a number of tour options for half-day or full-day excursions for all sorts of activities!

Biking in Moab

Canyonlands Biking in April

You can ride on any public roadway at Island in the Sky or at The Needles. You must ride single file. There are no road shoulders or bike lanes.

You’ll also find hundreds of miles of roads for mountain biking in Canyonlands for day trips and overnight trips:

  • Overnight Biking Trips: must have a Canyonlands overnight backcountry permit. Reservations for White Rim campsites are very competitive so plan to make a reservation up to four months in advance.
  • Day Biking Trips: must have a Canyonlands day-use permit for White Rim, Elephant Hill, Lavender Canyon, and Peekaboo/Horse Canyon roads.

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

kayaking near Canyonlands
Kayaking near Canyonlands

Canyonlands River Rafting in April

The Colorado and Green Rivers can be explored with canoes, kayaks, rafts, and shallow-water boats. In April you’ll also find sections for whitewater river rafting near Canyonlands! 

Canyonlands river permit: required for all private river trips through the park. You may reserve overnight permits up to four months before the following seasons and reservations close two days prior to a launch date. Day use permits are available year round.

Guided Canyonlands river rafting trips: local outfitters in Moab offer half-day to week-long guided trips with several nights of camping.

Moab Stand Up Paddleboarding Tour: another fun way to enjoy the Colorado River!

camping near Canyonlands
Camping near Canyonlands

Canyonlands Camping in April

There is only one small developed Island in the Sky campground in addition to a few backpacking camping areas. Willow Flat Campground has 12 sites with pit toilets, picnic tables, and fire rings. However, there is no potable water, so make sure you pack water for your stay. The campground also allows pets. The site has a “first come, first served” policy. You can stay for a maximum of seven days.

During the spring and fall, Canyonlands overnight backpacking permits are in high demand! If you plan to backpack and camp at these two Island in the Sky campsites, you may have to reserve your permit up to four months in advance.

  • Murphy Point Overlook Campsite
  • Syncline Campsite

There options for Needles Canyonlands camping is one developed campground and a variety of backcountry campsites. The Needles Campground has 26 sites:

  • Fourteen campsites in Loop A are always on a “first come, first served” basis. 
  • Twelve campsites in Loop B an be reserved in the spring.. and they fill quickly!
  • Group sites are open from mid-March to mid-November.

Needles Canyonlands backcountry permits are required for all overnight stays and must be reserved online at least two days before start of trip for these 5 sites:

  • Peekaboo
  • Devil’s Kitchen
  • New Bates Wilson
  • Bobby Jo
  • Horse Hoof

Canyonlands Lodging in April

If you’re not a fan of camping, or you can’t get a camp site in the park, there are more lodging options near Canyonlands:

Arches Canyonlands guides and maps

BUY AT AMAZON: Arches and Canyonlands Guides and Maps

Things To Do Near Canyonlands in April

Canyonlands Itineraries

We’ve created some done-for-you itineraries for visiting Canyonlands depending on the time you have to spend at the park. Click the graphic below to get a free travel bundle that includes printable daily itineraries. Or click the links below to see detailed itineraries of the best things to do at Canyonlands!

Click the graphic below to get your free Canyonlands Travel Bundle to help you plan your vacation based on the number of days you have to spend at the park!

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visiting Canyonlands in April

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