We’ve put together a travel guide with everything you need to know to visit Canyonlands National Park in September. Canyonlands is located in southeast Utah with a stunning landscape of canyons, mesas, buttes, and rivers.
This time of year is still HOT and crowded so use our Canyonlands National Park guide to plan your September vacation.
Canyonlands National Park is a vast expanse of red rock canyons, mesas and buttes that will take your breath away. September is the perfect time of year to enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, biking, scenic drives, and more!
Check out these Canyonlands Itineraries for 1, 2, or 3 days in the park!
- Canyonlands National Park One Day Itinerary
- Two Days at Canyonlands National Park
- Three Days at Canyonlands National Park
- One Day at Needles Canyonlands National 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 September
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 this article detailing the services and things to do at the two different districts: Canyonlands Island in the Sky vs Needles.
Canyonlands Weather in September
The Canyonlands National Park weather in September isn’t as hot as the summer months. The average highs are 88 and the lows are 55 degrees Fahrenheit. The morning temperatures are just right for hiking, biking and exploring the park!
Is September 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. September is a good time for outdoor activities if you avoid the hottest part of the day. It’s a good time for milky way photography!
Our favorite seasons to plan a Canyonlands vacation are:
- Canyonlands National Park in the Spring
- Canyonlands National Park in the Fall
- Canyonlands National Park in the Winter
Arches & Canyonlands AUDIO TOUR
“Download the app to your phone – no cell or wifi service needed. Based on your GPS location, the app takes you on a guided tour of the park and points out all the interesting features and stops. It’s like having a park ranger in the car with you.”
Things to Do at Canyonlands in September
Here’s a list of Canyonlands National Park fall activities, with tips for visiting in September!
Canyonlands Ranger-Led Programs in September
Definitely stop at the visitor centers in both districts:
They are open every day in the September. 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.
Canyonlands Scenic Drives in September
The Island in the Sky scenic drive is a nice activity in September 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.
Hiking at Canyonlands in September
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 September 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 we recommend: Mesa Arch, Grand View Point, Aztec Butte and Upheaval Dome.
Canyonlands Needles hikes we like: Roadside Ruin, Pothole Point and Cave Spring.
- What to Bring on a Day Hike
- Hiking Gear and Tips for Kids
- Winter Clothing for Hiking
- Photography Gear for Hiking
- Best Cameras for Hiking
Photography in September at Canyonlands
Sunrise and sunset are the best times for Canyonlands National Park 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 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!
Stargazing at Canyonlands in September
Canyonlands has the slogan: “Half the Park is After Dark”. Take the time spend one evening after the sun sets and LOOK UP!
In September you can see the milky way from 8:30 pm to 11:30 pm. 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.
Drive 4×4 Trails in September at Canyonlands
September is a great time to explore the 4×4 trails 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:
Canyonlands Tours in September
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!
- All-Day Hiking Tour at Canyonlands National Park
- 3-Day Backpacking Tour in Canyonlands National Park
- Sunrise Photography: Canyonlands and Dead Horse Point
- Mountain Bike Tour in Canyonlands National Park
- Canyonlands Cataract Canyon Rafting Tour
Biking in September 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:
- Overnight 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 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.
Canyonlands Camping in September
September is a great time for Canyonlands National Park camping:
- Island in the Sky Campground is a small campground with 12 sites. It is fully operational all-year-round, but the sites fill quickly.
- Needles Canyonlands camping you’ll find 26 individual camping sites and three group sites around the Needles district.
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!
BUY AT AMAZON: Arches and Canyonlands Guides and Maps
Packing List for Canyonlands
Use our Canyonlands Packing List to make sure you have the right clothing and gear for visiting in September! Grab your free printable packing checklist by clicking the image below!