Visiting Canyonlands National Park in September

We’ve put together a travel guide with everything you need to know to visit Canyonlands National Park in September.

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

canyonlands national park in september

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 September.

Check out these Canyonlands Itineraries for 1, 2, or 3 days in 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 September

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

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 weather isn’t as hot at Canyonlands National Park in the fall, compared to the summer. The average highs in September are 88 and the lows are 55 degrees Fahrenheit. The morning temperatures are just right for hiking, biking and exploring the park!

Sun protection and hydration are still important in September. Wear a sunhatsunscreen and sunglasses. Carry a hydration pack or a refillable water bottle in your backpack!

Is September a Good Time to Visit Canyonlands?

When decided 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:


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

Canyonlands Visitor Center in September

Definitely stop at the Canyonlands Island in the Sky Visitor Center and Needles Visitor Center when you first arrive at each park district. 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.

Green River Overlook by Photo Jeepers

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.

canyonlands needles

Hiking at Canyonlands in September

Exploring the Canyonlands 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.


Photography 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!

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 right after sunset. 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.

jeeping around moab utah

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 near Canyonlands instead!

Things To Do Near Canyonlands

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).

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