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.

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

vacation to Canyonlands in October

Canyonlands is located in southeast Utah with a stunning landscape of canyons, mesas, buttes, and rivers. October is the perfect time of year to enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, biking, scenic drives, and more!

We live only a few hours away from Canyonlands so we’ve had the opportunity to visit many times. The tips we share are based on our experiences visiting the area throughout the years, and specifically for the month of October!

Use our Canyonlands Packing List to make sure you have the right clothing and gear for visiting in October! 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!

Visiting Canyonlands National Park in October

All five Utah National Parks are crowded during the fall months. 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 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!

Canyonlands Weather in October

The Canyonlands National Park weather 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.

You’ll want layers during October for the colder mornings and evenings:

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

Is October a Good Time to Visit Canyonlands?

When deciding the best time to visit Canyonlands National Park, it all depends on the type of activities you’ll do.

We LOVE visiting Canyonlands in October so we can enjoy outdoor activities all day long and not worry about the heat like you do in the summer.

Our favorite seasons to plan a Canyonlands vacation are:

Things to Do at Canyonlands in October

Here’s a list of Canyonlands National Park fall activities, with tips for visiting in October!

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

Canyonlands Ranger-Led Programs in October

Definitely stop at the visitor centers in both districts:

They are open every day in the October. Talk to the park ranger about things you are interested in seeing and doing, and 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.

There are fun and interactive Canyonlands ranger-led programs 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.

If you’re visiting Canyonlands National Park With Kids, the Junior Ranger program is a must!

Canyonlands Passport Stamps

Kids, and adults, will enjoy collecting stamps in their National Park Passport book! Passport booklets and stamp sets are “usually” available at the park visitor centers, but we recommend you get the passport book before the trip, just in case!!

We’ve seen sad kiddos when a visitor center is out of passport books. Rangers can stamp a piece of paper, but it’s not just the same experience!

View from the Canyonlands Scenic Drive
View from the Canyonlands Scenic Drive

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!

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.

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.

Washer woman seen from the Mesa Arch hike
Washer woman seen from the Mesa Arch hikes

Hiking at Canyonlands in October

Exploring the Canyonlands National Park fall hikes is a great way to appreciate this park. You’ll find hundreds of miles of easy, moderate and strenuous trails to choose from.

In October it’s important 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 sunhat, sunscreen and sunglasses.

Island in the Sky hikes: Mesa Arch, Grand View Point, Aztec Butte and Upheaval Dome.

Canyonlands Needles hikes: Roadside Ruin, Pothole Point and Cave Spring.

Mesa Arch at sunrise
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.

To photograph Canyonlands sunrise at Island in the Sky we like Grand View Point and Mesa Arch.

And for Canyonlands sunset photo spots at Island in the Sky we like the Colorado River Overlook as well as nearby Dead Horse Point State Park.

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
Milky Way over Mesa Arch

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!

Jeeping at Needles Canyonlands
Jeeping at Needles

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!

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

Canyonlands Tours in October

One of the best ways to get to know the park is booking a Canyonlands National Park tour! Whether you’re looking for a half-day or full-day excursion, there are plenty of Canyonlands tours available to fit your needs: guided hikes, canyoneering, photography, and river rafting!

Biking on Shafer Trail in Canyonlands
Biking on Shafer Trail in Canyonlands

Biking in October 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.

RV camper in Canyonlands
RV camper in Canyonlands

Canyonlands Camping in October

October is a great time for Canyonlands National Park 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

Things To Do Near Canyonlands in October

Canyonlands Itineraries

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

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