Must-Read Tips for Visiting Canyonlands National Park in the Spring

Visiting Canyonlands National Park in the spring is a wonderful time to go because the weather is “just right” to enjoy outdoor activities.

Use our Canyonlands National Park guide and the tips below to know what to pack, where to stay, spring weather and things to do!

But spring is a popular time at Canyonlands so be prepared for crowds! We share tips for ways to avoid the crows at Canyonlands in the spring.

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Springtime at Canyonlands varies quite a bit from month to month. We share these articles about what it’s like to visit during the spring months of March, April and May to help you plan your trip!

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!

Spring Weather at Canyonlands

Canyonlands National Park in March: temperatures range from highs near 59 degrees to lows around 30 degrees. 

Canyonlands National Park in April: temperatures range from highs near 67 degrees and lows around 37 degrees. 

Canyonlands National Park in 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. 

grand view point sunrise canyonlands hike

Things to Do at Canyonlands in the Spring

Check out all the fun things to do at Canyonlands National Park. You’ll find different activities at Island in the Sky and Needles so check out the article we wrote: Canyonlands Island in the Sky vs Needles.

Canyonlands Visitor Center in the Spring

Canyonlands 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.

Canyonlands Scenic Drives in the Spring

The Island in the Sky scenic drive is a must-do activity! Each of the 10 overlooks offers a different view to enjoy and photograph!

Remember that Needles Canyonlands 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 in Canyonlands to tackle!

off-road jeep trails at Needles Canyonlands

Off-road Trails at Canyonlands in the Spring

Spring can be an “iffy” time for exploring the off-road trails at Canyonlands. Many off-road trails may become impassible when it rains! Always check with the rangers for current conditions.

If the Shafer Trail is open, and you have the right vehicle, we recommend this challenging, unpaved backcountry road in Island in the Sky that connects with Moab.

And check out the 4×4 trails at Needles Canyonlands, but again check to see if they’re open or if you’ll need a permit.

At Canyonlands, high-clearance 4WD vehicles with a low range gear (4LO) are required on all off-road trails. ATVs, OHVs, or UTVs are not permitted inside the park. Do not attempt to drive these trails if you are inexperienced since there is a high risk of vehicle damage that could lead to towing costs in excess of $1,000!

Canyonlands Photography in the Spring

You will definitely want to take advantage of all the iconic photography locations at Canyonlands.

We usually focus our  Canyonlands National Park photography for sunrise and sunset. At Island in the Sky 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!

Grand View Point is another great sunrise photography spot. We recommend Green River Overlook at sunset.

Check out our Arches and Canyonlands Photography Guide to help you know the best photo spots at the best time of day!

Arches and Canyonlands photography guide

Canyonlands Stargazing in the Spring

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!! We like these locations in the park for milky way photography:

  • Mesa Arch
  • Grand View Point
  • Green River Overlook

Canyonlands Hiking in the Spring

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 easy Canyonlands Needles 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. 

Needles Canyonlands spires

More Canyonlands Activities

BUY AT AMAZON: Arches and Canyonlands Guides and Maps:

Arches Canyonlands guides and maps

Plan Your Canyonlands Vacation

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).
  • Rent an RV – have it dropped off at your vacation destination!

Things To Do Near Canyonlands

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