Canyonlands National Park Spring Activities

There are a variety of Canyonlands National Park spring activities to help you explore this amazing park in Southeastern Utah.

Use this Canyonlands National Park guide to plan an amazing itinerary full of fun spring activities! We also share tips for 

Canyonlands spring activities

Canyonlands National Park should be at the top of your list of places to visit in Utah if you enjoy spring activities like hiking, biking, scenic drives, photography, and more!

Keep reading to learn more about the various districts of Canyonlands Island in the Sky and Needles and all the fun activities you can do at each location.

Check out these 1, 2, and 3-day Canyonlands Itineraries:

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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!

Spring Vacation at Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands is subdivided along the Green and Colorado Rivers into four unique districts, that are known as The Needles, Island in the Sky, The Maze and The Rivers.

Of all the districts, we recommend visiting Canyonlands National Park Island in the Sky because it’s the most accessible. It also offers fantastic, panoramic views of the park along the Island in the Sky scenic drive.

Take a short side trip to visit Dead Horse Point State Park near the entrance to Island in the Sky. It is a must-see location!

In contrast, when you visit Needles Canyonlands, you’ll experience a remote, backcountry experience with an assortment of natural geologic formations that can only be reached by using one of the many Canyonlands hiking trails or four-wheel driving trails.

Check out our article explaining Canyonlands Island in the Sky vs Needles!

There are so many fun ways to explore Canyonlands in the spring: hiking trails, scenic drive, rock climbing, off-road driving and photography to name a few.

Spring Weather at Canyonlands

When visiting Canyonlands National Park in the spring, it’s important to pack for all types of weather because you never know when the weather will change.

Canyonlands National Park Spring Activities

There are so many fun Canyonlands National Park activities you can do in the spring.

Spring Ranger-Led Programs at Canyonlands

If this is your first time visiting the park, stop at the Canyonlands Island in the Sky Visitor Center and Needles Visitor Center. Check the website for operating hours.

Take time to talk to the park ranger to get information about things you are interested in seeing and doing. Find out what Canyonlands Ranger-led Programs are available at the time of your visit.

You’ll find exhibits, book and map sales, backcountry permits, picnic area, and general information. Water is available year-round.

sunrise at Grand View Point Canyonlands
Sunrise at Grand View Point

Spring Scenic Drives at Canyonlands

Exploring the Island in the Sky scenic drive is a must-do activity! Stop at all 10 overlooks to enjoy and photograph the never-ending views!

You’ll see different views at Needles Canyonlands as you drive through the park. Stop at all pullouts to enjoy the diverse beauty of the stone spires in this part of the park, and see why it’s called Needles.

We highly recommend getting the Arches + Canyonlands GyPSy Guide 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. 

There are no food or gas services available in the park. Be sure to pack everything you’ll need for your visit to Canyonlands since water is only available at the Visitor Centers.

Needles Canyonlands hiking trail with ladder
Needles Canyonlands hiking trail with ladder

Spring Hiking at Canyonlands

Exploring the Canyonlands hikes is one of the best spring activities to appreciate this park.

Island in the Sky hikes: Mesa Arch, Grand View Point, Aztec Butte and Upheaval Dome. And here’s a list of hikes at the Needles district: Roadside Ruin, Pothole Point and Cave Spring.

Canyonlands Needles hikes that are easy: Roadside Ruin, Pothole Point, Cave Spring. There are a few popular difficult hikes as well: Chelser Park Loop and Druid Arch trails.

What to Bring on a Day Hike:

Mesa Arch at sunrsie
Mesa Arch at sunrise

Spring Photography at Canyonlands

If you love landscape photography, you’re in for a treat with the landscape views you’ll see at Canyonlands!

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

  • Canyonlands sunrise photo spots at Island in the Sky: Grand View Point and Mesa Arch.
  • Canyonlands sunset photo spots at Island in the Sky: Green River Overlook and nearby Dead Horse Point State Park!

If you’re looking for the best photo spots at Canyonlands Island in the Sky…

check out our 3-day itinerary to capture amazing sunrise, sunset and night photos, check out our Arches & Canyonlands Photography Guide.

In early spring you may still want photographer gloves and rechargeable hand warmers for the colder mornings and evenings.

milky way over Mesa Arch
Milky way over Mesa Arch

Spring Stargazing at Canyonlands

Stargazing at Canyonlands is another must-do activity. On a clear night, the sky is literally filled with stars. Canyonlands National Park is a Dark Sky Park and they have a slogan that says “Half the Park is After Dark”!

From March through October you can see the milky way. Canyonlands is a popular destination for astrophotographers so you won’t be alone in the park at night. Be courteous to other photographers in the area by using a headlamp with a red light!

In the spring, the Milky Way is visible at these times:

  • March – 3:00 am to 5:45 am
  • April – 1:00 am to 4:45 am
  • May 11:00 pm to 4:00 am
jeeping at Canyonlands
Jeeping at Needles Canyonlands

Spring Off-roading at Canyonlands

If you’re looking for an experience of a lifetime: drive the Shafer Trail! With the right vehicle you can drive this challenging, unpaved backcountry road in Island in the Sky that connects with Moab.

The 4×4 trails at Needles Canyonlands are pretty technical and may require a permit so check with the Park Rangers before heading out on any trail.

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!

We recommend you check with the Rangers to find out current road conditions before hitting any of the off-road trails in early spring.

tent-camping-in-Moab-in-the-winter
Camping in Canyonlands

Spring Camping at Canyonlands National Park

There are two ways to camp at Canyonlands in the spring. Sites fill quickly during the spring months!

Island in the Sky Camping: the Island in the Sky Campground is a small campground with 12 sites.

  • The site has a “first come, first served” policy. You can stay for a maximum of seven days.
  • The campground has pit toilets, several picnic tables, and fire rings. However, there is no potable water, so make sure you pack water for your stay.
  • The campground allows pets.

Canyonlands Needles Camping: there are 26 individual camping sites and three group sites around the Needles district for Needles Canyonlands camping.

  • Fourteen campsites in Loop A are always on a “first come, first served” basis. 
  • Twelve campsites in Loop B can be reserved in the spring and fall, but they fill quickly!
  • Group sites are open from mid-March to mid-November.
  • RVs and trailers are allowed, but there’s a maximum of length of 28 feet. 

If you can’t find a spot in the park, there are many RV parks near Canyonlands National Park where you can camp!

More Canyonlands Spring Activities

BUY AT AMAZON: Arches and Canyonlands Guides and Maps:

Arches 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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