Visiting Canyonlands National Park in October

Due to moderate temperatures, Canyonlands National Park in October is one of the best times to visit. But Canyonlands in the fall is a popular season so be prepared for crowds!

Use this Canyonlands National Park guide to help you decide if October is the right time for you to enjoy outdoor adventures at this park.

canyonlands in October

We share everything you need to know: things to do, what to pack, and where to stay when you visit Canyonlands in October.

You’ll want to be sure pack the right clothing and gear so you can enjoy all the outdoor Canyonlands National Park activities this time of year!

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The weather at Canyonlands National Park in October 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.

There is not much shade to be found at Canyonlands National Park Island in the Sky or Needles Canyonlands, so it’s nice to be in the park on a sunny day in the fall when the air isn’t stifling! It makes hiking so much more enjoyable!

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

October is a peak month for Utah National Parks. Canyonlands, Arches and the Moab area in general is a popular destination in the fall so expect crowds!

In October you may still find lines to get into the park, especially on the weekends. The points of interest and hiking trails at Canyonlands may be busy.

photograph canyonlands in the spring


The weather at Canyonlands National Park in October is “just right” with cooler mornings and evenings, and daytime temperatures are still moderate. 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.

We recommend you carry a fleece jacket when visiting in October.


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

Canyonlands Visitor Centers in October

If this is your first time visiting the park, stop at the Canyonlands Island in the Sky Visitor Center and Needles Visitor Center. Check the website for operating hours in October.

Take time to talk to the park ranger to get information about things you are interested in seeing and doing. Get tips and ideas on other things to do as well! You’ll find exhibits, book and map sales, backcountry permits, picnic area, and general information. Water is available year-round.

Canyonlands Scenic Drives in October

Exploring the Island in the Sky scenic drive is a must-do activity! Stop at all 10 overlooks to enjoy and photograph the never-ending views!

You’ll see different views at Needles Canyonlands as you drive through the park. Stop at all pullouts to enjoy the diverse beauty of the stone spires in this part of the park, and see why it’s called Needles.

Canyonlands Needles spires

Hiking at Canyonlands in October

In October, exploring the Canyonlands hikes is so nice because the sun is out and it’s not overly hot. Remember to stay hydrated and carry a hydration pack or a refillable water bottle in your backpack. And since most of the trails are fully exposed to the sun, you’ll need sun protection like a sunhatsunscreen and sunglasses.

Here’s a list of good Island in the Sky hikes: Mesa Arch, Grand View Point, Aztec Butte and Upheaval Dome. And here’s a list of easy Canyonlands Needles hikes: Roadside Ruin, Pothole Point and Cave Spring.

Mesa Arch at sunrise

Canyonlands Photography in October

If you love landscape photography, you’re in for a treat with the landscape views you’ll see at Canyonlands! We focus our Canyonlands National Park photography at Island in the Sky for sunrise and sunset photography. Our favorite sunrise spots at Island in the Sky are Grand View Point and Mesa Arch. We like the Colorado River Overlook at sunset.

Stop at all the viewpoints along the scenic drive at Island in the Sky and the main road through Needles to capture stunning landscape scenes.

If you’re looking for a 3-day itinerary to capture amazing sunrise, sunset and night photos, check out our Arches & Canyonlands Photography Guide.

milky way at canyonlands in the spring

Stargazing at Canyonlands in October

Stargazing at Canyonlands is another must-do activity. On a clear night, the sky is literally filled with stars.

Canyonlands National Park is a Dark Sky Park and they have a slogan that says “Half the Park is After Dark”!

In October you can see the milky way right after sunset. It will set around 9:30 pm so it’s a short window to capture this amazing astrophotography image!

Canyonlands is a popular destination for astrophotographers so you won’t be alone in the park at night. Be courteous to other photographers in the area by using a headlamp with a red light!

Canyonlands 4×4 Trails in October

Another experience of a lifetime is driving the Shafer Trail! If you have the right vehicle, you might want to try this challenging, unpaved backcountry road in Island in the Sky that connects with Moab.

The 4×4 trails at Needles Canyonlands are pretty technical and may require a permit so check with the Park Rangers before heading out on any trail.

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!

More Canyonlands Activities


Is Canyonlands National Park Open in October?

Canyonlands National Park is open 24/7. Visit the NPS site to get the updated operating hours.

Is October a Good Time to Visit Canyonlands National Park?

October is a terrific time for visiting Canyonlands National Park! But October is also month where people like to come to the area when the temperatures are more moderate. Our tip is to enter the park before 8 am, leave when it gets crowded, then go back in the afternoon!

Check out our list of best times to visit Canyonlands National Park if you want to research other times to visit as well.

What Park Activities Can You Do October?

Arches Canyonlands guides and maps

BUY AT AMAZON: Arches and Canyonlands Guides and Maps:

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).

Canyonlands Itineraries

Check out our done-for-you 1, 2, and 3-day Canyonlands Itineraries to help you plan your vacation:

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