Visiting Canyonlands National Park in the Fall

There is so much to do, see and photograph at Canyonlands National Park in the fall. The months of September, October and November are wonderful time of year to plan a trip!

Use this Canyonlands National Park guide that details all the fun things to do, what to pack, and where to stay when visiting Island in the Sky and Canyonlands Needles in the fall.

canyonlands in the fall everything you need to know

Canyonlands National Park is a stunning landscape of deep canyons, sheer cliffs, and majestic mesas that will take your breath away.

Located in the heart of southeastern Utah’s high desert country, it offers visitors an unforgettable experience.

Taking a trip to this national park during autumn is an amazing way to explore the great outdoors while surrounded by breathtaking beauty.

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 in the Fall

The weather at Canyonlands National Park in the fall 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 Island in the Sky vs Needles, 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!

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

Is Fall a Good Time to Visit Canyonlands?

The fall months are considered the best times to visit Canyonlands National Park because the weather is perfect for outdoor activities!

You can enjoy being outside from morning to evening biking, hiking, and taking pictures as you explore the scenic drive!

Fall Weather at Canyonlands

Fall is the perfect time to visit Canyonlands National Park. The temperatures during the day range from 55 degrees to 84 degrees Fahrenheit. The lows will dip down into the 20s to the 50s. 

  • Canyonlands in September expect to see temperatures range from 84 degrees being the highs to 51 degrees being the lows. 
  • Canyonlands in October the temperatures begin to fall even more. The high for most days is about 70 degrees with the lows fall into the upper 30s. 
  • Canyonlands in November tends to be quite cool with highs are around 55 degrees and the lows can be in the high 20s. 

With the cooler temperatures at night, you will definitely want to bring a fleece jacket, warm hat and gloves for the nights and early mornings. Dressing in layers is especially important as it gets warmer throughout the day. 

Things to Do In Canyonlands National Park in the Fall

Canyonlands is located in Southern Utah located near the fun outdoor adventure town of Moab

There are a variety of Canyonlands National Park fall activities like hiking, biking, scenic drives, camping and more!

Fall Ranger- Led Programs at Canyonlands

Make the Canyonlands Island in the Sky Visitor Center your very first spot! It is open every day in the fall.  

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! 

There are fun and interactive Canyonlands ranger-led programs where you’ll learn about the natural and cultural resources found at the park.

Join a ranger for a talk, hike, or evening program. Check the website for the most updated schedule of events.

sunrise at Grand View Point Canyonlands
Sunrise at Grand View Point

Canyonlands Scenic Drives in the Fall

Stunning views is what you’ll find when visiting Canyonlands National Park. There are 10 overlooks and viewpoints along the Island in the Sky scenic drive to enjoy the vast and spectacular landscape at this park!

You’ll definitely want to have your camera ready to capture the beauty you’ll see!

Driving through Needles Canyonlands, be sure to stop at all pullouts so you can experience the diverse beauty of the stone spires in this part of the park.

We highly recommend getting the Canyonlands GuideAlong Audio Tour: use the suggested itineraries in the app tour plan, or divide the commentary to create your own half, full or multi day sightseeing trips. 

Check out these two scenic drives close to Needles with stunning views of Canyonlands:

Hiking at Needles Canyonlands
Hiking at Needles Canyonlands

Hiking at Canyonlands in the Fall

Hiking is one of the popular activities to do at Canyonlands. There are hundreds of miles of hiking trails to explore the park.

There are amazing Canyonlands National Park fall hikes you can’t miss that include short walks, day hikes and backpacking trails. Here’s a list of easy hikes found at both districts:

Trails are usually marked with cairns (small rock piles) and have signs at intersections. Many remote trails do not receive regular maintenance and may not be adequately marked. All backcountry hikers should carry a topographic map.

golden glow under Mesa Arch at Canyonlands
Mesa Arch at Canyonlands

Fall Photography at Canyonlands

It’s no surprise we love Canyonlands National Park photography, especially in the fall. Take advantage of the more moderate temperatures, to get some truly epic pictures of Canyonlands throughout the day. 

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

Fall 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 broken down by the time of day, and give you our favorite 3 day itinerary! 

milky way over Mesa Arch
Milky way over Mesa Arch

Canyonlands Stargazing in the Fall

Did you know that Canyonlands has some of the best stargazing? There’s a saying that says “Half the Park is After Dark”. Take the time to stay in the park on a clear night and you’ll see why!  

Due to the remote location of this park, you’ll experience amazing dark skies without much light pollution.

Our favorite locations to photograph the stars and milky way at Canyonlands Island in the Sky is Mesa Arch and Grand View Point.

The milky way is visible during the fall months at these times:

  • September – 8:30 pm to 11:30 pm
  • October – 8:00 pm to 9:30 pm
  • November – Not visible
Jeep driving along an off road trail in Canyonlands

Canyonlands 4×4 Trails in the Fall

The Shafer Trail is a challenging, unpaved backcountry road in Island in the Sky. But if you’re up for the challenge, it’s an experience of a lifetime!

You’ll also find fun 4×4 trail at Needles Canyonlands, but check to see if you’ll need a permit for the trail you want to drive.

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:

Biking at Canyonlands

Biking in the Fall 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.

Canyonlands Tours in the Fall

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 in the fall to fit your needs: guided hikes, canyoneering, photography, and river rafting!

Canyonlands Camping in the Fall

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

Fall Packing List for Canyonlands

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

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