Tips for Visiting Canyonlands National Park in August

Here’s everything you need to know to visit Canyonlands National Park in August.

This time of year is HOT and crowded so use our Canyonlands National Park guide to plan your August vacation.

canyonlands national park in august: everything you need to know

You’ll find tips to avoid the crowds, things to do, what to pack, where to stay and activities to do when visiting Canyonlands in August.

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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 August

You won’t find shade when visiting Canyonlands National Park. In August plan to do all outdoor activities in the morning and late afternoons.

All five Utah National Parks are crowded during the summer. Canyonlands, Arches and the Moab area in general are popular destinations. We recommend getting into Canyonlands early to avoid the line of cars at the gate.

Check out this article detailing the services and things to do at the two different districts: Canyonlands Island in the Sky vs Needles.

Canyonlands Weather in August

Canyonlands National Park in the summer will be HOT. The average highs in August are 97 and the lows are 66 degrees Fahrenheit. The morning temperatures are just right for hiking, biking and exploring the park!

Sun protection and hydration are crucial in August. Wear a sun hatsunscreen and sunglasses and carry a hydration pack or a refillable water bottle in your backpack!

Is August a Good Time to Visit Canyonlands?

Due to the heat, we don’t find August to be the best time to visit Canyonlands National Park. But August is a good time for milky way photography!

We prefer the other three seasons for a Canyonlands vacation:

Things to do at Canyonlands in August

Here’s a list of things to do at Canyonlands National Park, with tips for visiting in August!

Canyonlands Visitor Center in August

Definitely stop at the Canyonlands Island in the Sky Visitor Center and Needles Visitor Center when you first arrive at the parks. They are open every day in the summer. It’s a good time to talk to the park ranger about things you are interested in seeing and doing, as well as get tips and ideas from them as well.

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

Ranger- Led Programs in August at Canyonlands

There are fun and interactive ranger-led programs where you’ll learn about the natural and cultural resources at Canyonlands National Park.

Join a ranger for a talk, hike, or evening program. Check the website for the most updated schedule of events.

Green River Overlook by Photo Jeepers

Canyonlands Scenic Drives in August

In August the Island in the Sky scenic drive is a nice activity to enjoy the AC in your vehicle as you stop at the various overlooks. There are 10 viewpoints from atop the mesa to see and photograph the canyons and landscape at this park!

Remember it will take 1.5 hours from Moab to reach Needles Canyonlands. The views there are quite a bit different from Island in the Sky. Stop at all pullouts to enjoy the diverse beauty at the various points of interest.

river rafting

Boating in August at Canyonlands

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! August is a great time to enjoy the river section of Canyonlands!

Private Permits: You must have a Canyonlands river permit for all private river trips. 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 Trips: There are local outfitters in Moab that offer half-day to week-long guided trips with several nights of camping.

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Hiking at Canyonlands in August

We highly recommend exploring at least one of the Canyonlands hikes. There are hundreds of miles of easy, moderate and strenuous trails to choose from.

In August it’s a MUST to stay hydrated and carry a hydration pack or a refillable water bottle in your backpack. Remember the trails are fully exposed to the sun so use sun protection like a sunhatsunscreen and sunglasses.

The Island in the Sky hikes we recommend: Mesa Arch, Grand View Point, Aztec Butte and Upheaval Dome. We like the easier Canyonlands Needles hikes like Roadside Ruin, Pothole Point and Cave Spring.


Photography in Augugst at Canyonlands

Sunrise and sunset are the best times for Canyonlands National Park photography. To photograph sunrise at Island in the Sky we like Grand View Point and Mesa Arch. And for the sunset we like the Colorado River Overlook.

All the viewpoints along the scenic drive at Island in the Sky provide landscape views you’ll want to photograph as well!

Arches and Canyonlands photography guide

If you’re serious about photography, check out our Arches & Canyonlands Photography Guide and Itinerary. We share the best photography spots at each park for sunrise, sunset and even night time…and give you our favorite 3 day itinerary! 

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Stargazing in August at Canyonlands

Canyonlands has the slogan: “Half the Park is After Dark”. Take the time spend one evening after the sun sets and LOOK UP!

In August you can see the milky way from 9:30pm to 1:30am. Canyonlands is a popular destination for astrophotographers because it’s internationally recognized as one of the best places for stargazing due to the remote location, accessibility, altitude and clear skies.

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Biking in August at Canyonlands

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.

In August it will be HOT so plan to ride in the morning!

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.

jeeping around moab utah

4×4 Trails in August at Canyonlands

We LOVE driving the Shafer Trail! It’s a challenging, unpaved backcountry road in Island in the Sky that connects with Moab. It’s got steep drop-offs so it might not be good for those with a fear of heights!

There are also a few 4×4 trails at Needles Canyonlands, but check to see if you’ll need a permit for the trail you want to drive.

At Canyonlands, high-clearance 4WD vehicles with a low range gear (4LO) are required on all off-road trails – no ATVs, OHVs, or UTVs are allowed inside the park.

You can rent Jeeps in Moab, but these trails should not be attempted by inexperienced drivers. There is a high risk of vehicle damage on many trails in Canyonlands that could lead to towing costs in excess of $1,000!

You might consider taking a guided 4×4 tour instead!

More Canyonlands Activities

BUY AT AMAZON: Arches and Canyonlands Guides and Maps:

Arches Canyonlands guides and maps

Things To Do Near Canyonlands

Where to Stay Near Canyonlands

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

  •  Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Moab – we enjoyed our stay and highly recommend this hotel due to its location close to Canyonlands.
  •  Purple Sage – our all-time favorite place to stay in Moab – walking distance to shopping, full kitchen, and only 8 units so you don’t feel lost in a large hotel.
  •  Red Cliffs Lodge – rooms up to 6 people – located 17 miles from Moab, this lodge is known for its beautiful location, winery and activities like horseback riding, fishing and more!
  • Townhomes south of Moab – we really like the townhomes in Spanish Valley with kitchen, washer and dryer in the unit and a swimming pool/hot tub (just a 5 minute drive south of Moab).
  • Rent an RV – have it dropped off at your vacation destination!

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