Canyonlands National Park is one of our favorite places to visit, along with Arches!
We have great tips for visiting Canyonlands National Park in the Spring!
Taking a trip to Canyonlands in the spring is a great time to go because the weather is “just right” to enjoy outdoor activities.
Here’s our guide to visiting Canyonlands in the Spring.
- What to pack
- Where to stay
- Spring weather
- Things to do
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WHAT TO PACK FOR A NATIONAL PARK TRIP IN THE SPRING
Packing for a trip in the spring means being prepared for any type of weather!
1. US National Parks Pass
- You can order passes online or get them at any of these Federal Recreation Areas.
- → BUY THE PASS AT REI and they will donate 10% of sales to the National Park Foundation.
2. Hiking Gear
- Spring hiking at some national parks may mean wet trails, and even some patches of snow! You’ll want waterproof hiking boots or shoes: → Check out our favorite Merrell Moab hiking shoes!
- Hiking socks that breath… and if they prevent blisters, that’s even better: → Check out the BEST SOCKS by Darn Tough!
- Walking stick or trekking poles
3. Clothing – Layers
- Wicking and quick-drying base layers
- Fleece or insulated jacket: → Columbia fleece jackets are our favorite!
- Waterproof rain jacket
- WATER: → Use refillable water bottles or a hydration backpack
- FOOD: → Check out our list of healthy snacks
- Flashlight or headlamp
- National Park maps
- Lip protection with sunscreen
- Polarized sunglasses
- Hand lotion
- Toilet paper (carry out in a bag – do not bury)
- Hand sanitizer
- First aid kit
- Bags to pack out trash
- Cell phone
- Portable charger
- Guide books
- Camera Gear – DOWNLOAD the free camera gear checklist!
- Photography gear for hiking
WHERE TO STAY NEAR CANYONLANDS
There are no lodging facilities in the park, but there are campgrounds.
Here are 4 places we recommend:
- 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 town – 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).
- Rent an RV – have it dropped off at your vacation destination!
Where to Stay Near Canyonlands Needles
You can visit Needles and stay in Moab, and most people do that.
The town of Monticello is a bit closer to Needles, but the lodging, food and shopping options aren’t as good. It’s a much smaller town than Moab.
CANYONLANDS NATIONAL PARK IN THE SPRING
Spring Weather at Canyonlands
March: temperatures range from highs near 59 degrees to lows around 30 degrees.
April: temperatures range from highs near 67 degrees and lows around 37 degrees.
May: temperatures range from highs around 78 degrees and lows near 46 degrees.
With the temperatures changing so much throughout the day, it is especially important to dress in layers.
Spring Break Crowds
Spring weather draws people to Canyonlands. It’s the best time of year to truly enjoy the outdoors in this desert landscape.
BUT that means Canyonlands is also a popular spring break destination so expect crowds!
There will be lines to get into the park, especially on the weekends. There will be cars circling the parking lots looking for a place to park, and the points of interest will be packed with people.
TIP: Enter the park early or go in the late afternoon!
Things to Do at Canyonlands in the Spring
Stop at the Visitor Center
Island in the Sky Visitor Center: exhibits, book & map sales, backcountry permits, general information, vault toilets, and park rangers on duty. You can get drinking water inside (during open hours) or outside (24 hours a day). There’s a 15-minute orientation movie, “Wilderness of Rock,” on request at the visitor center.
The Needles Visitor Center: exhibits, book and map sales, backcountry permits, general information, picnic area, and park rangers on duty. The orientation Movie, “Wilderness of Rock” (15 minutes) is also shown on request here. The visitor center is open spring through fall. When it’s closed in winter, you must self-register for backcountry permits outside the visitor center entrance. Water is available year-round.
The Island in the Sky scenic drive is a must-do activity! Each overlook offers a different view to enjoy and photograph!
Remember that Canyonlands Needles in about 1 1/2 hours away from Moab. Enjoy the high desert scenery along the way. You’ll get great views of the sandstone “needles” formations as you drive the paved road through The Needles.
Anyone with a high-clearance, low range four-wheel-drive vehicle, there are MANY unpaved roads to tackle at Canyonlands!
NOTE: Many off-road trails may become impassible during the spring when it rains! Always check with the rangers for current conditions.
You will definitely want to take advantage of all the iconic photography locations at Canyonlands.
Island in the Sky photography:
Mesa Arch at sunrise is definitely one of the most famous images to shoot while visiting. You will have to get there early to get a spot!
There is a reason why Canyonlands National Park is internationally recognized as one of the best places to stargaze.
The skies are clear and with the park in a remote location it allows you to get some of the most incredible views of the night sky that you will ever see.
Spring is the perfect time to photograph the milky way!!
Try stargazing at
- Mesa Arch
- Grand View Point
- Green River Overlook
There are so many Canyonlands hikes to choose from! There are trails for families, casual visitors who want to explore, and then the avid hikers that want a real adventure.
Some of our favorite Island in the Sky Hikes: Mesa Arch, Upheaval Dome, Aztec Butte and Grand View Point!
Needles Canyonlands is really known for its backpacking trails, but you can find a few day hikes like Roadside Ruin, Cave Spring and Pothole Point.
When hiking at Canyonlands in the spring it is especially important that you take the proper gear and plenty of water. Dress in moisture-wicking layers for the cooler mornings and evenings.
Camping is one of the best ways to truly experience all there is to see and do at Canyonlands.
Check out our guide for Island in the Sky campgrounds, as well as the BLM camping areas nearby.
Check out our guide for Needles Canyonlands camping!
Ranger Led Programs
Ranger-led programs are a great way to learn about Canyonlands while exploring with a park ranger.
There are different programs available at Island in the Sky and The Needles. We especially recommended these if it is your first time visiting the park.
If you want to see the park in a whole new way, then explore on horseback during your trip. If you follow the regulations set forth by the National Park Service you can explore the park by horseback.
Other fun things to do include: