Visiting Canyonlands National Park in July

Canyonlands National Park is located in southeastern Utah. It’s known for its deep canyons and mesas carved by the Colorado River.

If you want to visit Canyonlands National Park in July, there are important things you need to know to navigate the crowds and avoid the heat!

Use this Canyonlands National Park guide to plan your July vacation: things to do, what to pack, where to stay and more.

things to do at Canyonlands in July

Canyonlands National Park is an outdoor adventurer’s paradise. Located in southeastern Utah, Canyonlands is a vast expanse of red rock canyons, mesas and buttes that will take your breath away.

There are done-for-you 1, 2, and 3-day Canyonlands Itineraries to help you plan your July vacation based on the time you have to spend at the park:

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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 July

There is pretty much no shade at Canyonlands Island in the Sky or Needles. In July you’ll need to 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.

Is July a Good Time to Visit Canyonlands?

For us, we don’t find July a good time for visiting Canyonlands National Park due to the heat in the day. But we do like to photograph the milky way and find July a good time for that!

Check out our resources of the best times to visit Canyonlands National Park. We share what it’s like during all seasons and months of the year. That way you can decide which season or months works best for the things you want to see, do and photograph!

Canyonlands Weather in July

The Canyonlands National Park weather will be HOT and DRY in July with the average highs around 100 with the lows around 67. The morning temperatures are just right for hiking, biking and exploring the park!

Sun protection and hydration are crucial in July:

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

Things To Do at Canyonlands in July

Here’s a list of Canyonlands National Park summer activities that you can enjoy during your visit: hiking, camping, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, fishing, exploring the many scenic overlooks and geological features.

Canyonlands Visitor Center in July

We always recommend making the Canyonlands Island in the Sky Visitor Center and Needles Visitor Center your first stop! 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.

There are fun and interactive ranger-led programs at Canyonlands where you’ll learn about the natural and cultural resources at the park. Join a ranger for a talk, hike, or evening program. Check the website for the most updated schedule of events.

Needles formations at Canyonlands
Needles formations at Canyonlands

Canyonlands Scenic Drives in July

In July 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.

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.

View through Mesa Arch at Island in the Sky
Mesa Arch hike

Canyonlands Hiking in July

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

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. There are a few popular difficult hikes as well: Chelser Park Loop and Druid Arch trails.

river rafting
Canyonlands river rafting

Boating in July 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 Canyonlands whitewater river rafting! July 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.

hazy sunrise at Grand View Point Canyonlands
Hazy sunrise at Grand View Point

Canyonlands Photography in July

Sunrise and sunset are the best times to take pictures at Canyonlands. We focus our Canyonlands National Park photography at Island in the Sky: Grand View Point and Mesa Arch at sunrise and Colorado River Overlook for sunset.

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

Summer wildfires can create smoky and hazy skies that can produce a neat effect in your photos, but may not provide the crisp images you are hoping for.

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! 

Milky way over Mesa Arch

Stargazing at Canyonlands in July

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

In July you can see the milky way from 10:30pm to 3:30am. Yes that’s pretty much the middle of the night, but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime type experience!

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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Mountain biking at Canyonlands

Summer Biking 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.

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.

Jeep driving through Canyonlands

Off-Roading at Canyonlands in July

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!

If you prefer a Canyonlands Jeep Tour, here are a few options:

Canyonlands Tours in July

With experienced guides on Canyonlands National Park tours, you can explore all the amazing sights the park has to offer and make sure you don’t miss anything.

Whether you’re looking for a half-day or full-day excursion, there are plenty of Canyonlands National Park tours available to fit your needs: guided hikes, canyoneering, photography, and river rafting!

Canyonlands Camping in July

Island in the Sky Camping: the Island in the Sky Campground is a small campground with 12 sites. It is fully operational all-year-round, but the sites fill quickly.

Canyonlands Needles Camping: there are 26 individual camping sites and three group sites around the Needles district for Needles Canyonlands camping.

If you can’t find a spot in the park, there are many RV parks near Canyonlands National Park where you can camp!

To enjoy a more elevated type of camping, check out the options for glamping near Canyonlands National Park!

Arches Canyonlands guides and maps

BUY AT AMAZON: Arches and Canyonlands Guides and Maps

Canyonlands Summer Packing List

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

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