Canyonlands National Park Spring Hikes

Spring is the perfect time to explore the stunning beauty of Canyonlands. Here’s a list of the best Canyonlands National Park spring hikes that range from easy to challenging.

This Canyonlands National Park guide will help you plan your spring vacation: hiking trails, what to pack, where to stay, and more!

Canyonlands National Park spring hikes

Hiking is one of the best ways to explore the rugged landscape that has been transformed into a multitude of canyons, mesas, buttes, and arches by the erosion of the Green and Colorado rivers.

Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll or an adventurous hike, you’ll find a Canyonlands hike you can enjoy in the spring!

Check out these Canyonlands itineraries to help you plan the activities you want to do depending on the time you have to visit!

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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 the Spring

When visiting Canyonlands National Park in the spring, you’ll find moderate temperatures that are perfect for hiking:

Keep in mind that Canyonlands is a popular destination for spring break in Utah so be prepared for crowds!

Tips for Spring Hiking at Canyonlands

One of the best Canyonlands National Park spring activities is hiking. It’s important to be prepared with the right clothing and gear for spring hikes at Canyonlands!

Spring Clothing for Hiking at Canyonlands

Canyonlands National Park in early spring will still have cold mornings so layers are key.

  • Clothing: Loose-fitting, light-colored, and wicking clothing
  • Sunhat: Sun protection is a must
  • Fleece jacketsA jacket is perfect for that morning layer when the temperatures are cool.
  • Darn Tough hiking socks: Do not wear cotton socks. Darn Tough Socks are comfortable, breathe well, and prevent blisters!
  • Waterproof hiking shoesSpring rain is common so be sure your hiking shoes are waterproof. Be sure the shoes are sturdy with good tread and traction.

Spring Hiking Gear for Canyonlands

Here’s the spring hiking gear we recommend for exploring this park:

spring hiking gear

Canyonlands Spring Hikes at Island in the Sky

Here are the Island in the Sky hikes we recommend in the spring to see panoramic views and incredible scenery.

Mesa Arch at Canyonlands
Mesa Arch

Mesa Arch Hike in the Spring

One of the easier hikes at Canyonlands, the Mesa Arch trail will take you about thirty minutes and leads to the spectacular cliff-edge arch. It’s easily accessible and less than half a mile from the parking lot.

This is one of the most iconic landmarks and Canyonlands sunrise photo spots at Island in the Sky so the area will be crowded at that time. We usually end up with the arch to ourselves a bit after sunrise!

Canyonlands Grand View Point sunrise
Grand View Point sunrise

Grand View Point Spring Hike

This area features canyons carved out by the Colorado River and some side canyons filled with attractive totem poles, hoodoos, and the La Sal Mountains.

The Grand View Point trail is an easy in-and-out hike that follows the canyon edge of Island in the Sky mesa and takes about an hour and a half. You can hike 1.8 miles to reach the southern tip of this overlook for one of Utah’s most spectacular views.

Canyonlands White Rim
Canyonlands White Rim

White Rim Overlook Spring Hike

Near the south end of the Canyonlands Island in the Sky district you’ll find the White Rim Overlook. Plan an hour and a half to complete the hike. There is extremely limited trailhead parking here but it’s worth it for the spectacular panoramic view from the overlook.

The overlook gets its name from the layer of white sandstone that forms at the edges of the canyon rim. The contrast of the white rock against the surrounding shades of red-orange cliffs is exquisite. It is best viewed in the late afternoon.

Murphy Point Spring Hike

If you’re looking for a longer hike, Murphy Point provides excellent wide views off the western end of Island in the Sky. Downhill most of the way, this Islands in the Sky hike leads you past a historic corral on the mesa top.

You’ll enjoy panoramic views of the Green River, Candlestick Tower, and the White Rim Road.

Upheaval Dome
Upheaval Dome

Upheaval Dome Spring Hike

There’s a unique feature 3 miles wide with a 1000-foot-deep crater with rocks pushed together in the center to make a dome-shaped structure. To truly appreciate it, this is one you’ll have to see in person.

The Upheaval Dome Trail in total is 1.7 miles. It’s a short, steep hike under 1 mile to the first overlook; the second overlook adds a mile. You can read all about the dome at the exhibits at the end of the trail.  

whale rock canyonlands
Whale Rock

Whale Rock Spring Hike

The Whale Rock hike leads you up the side of a large, rounded sandstone rock that some would say resembles a whale. This trail is a fun one to climb and the handrails make it easier to navigate. The Whale Rock Trail rewards you with broad views of the Canyonlands Island in the Sky.

Aztec Butte at Island in the Sky
Aztec Butte

Aztec Butte Spring Hike

One of the most interesting hikes in the Island in the Sky district, the Aztec Butte trail is short but challenging at times. You’ll be required to hike up ledges and slickrock.

Early on, the trail splits with Aztec Butte to the right and another smaller butte to the left before dropping below the rim to see two Puebloan structures called granaries. These are a unique find and both have been well-preserved. The hike is 1.8 miles if you continue to the second butte, 1.3 miles if you skip it. View structures from a distance; entering, touch and climbing on the sites is prohibited.

view from Syncline Loop Trail at Canyonlands
View from Syncline Loop Trail

Syncline Loop Spring Hike

Before heading out on the difficult Syncline Loop Trail, check conditions with the Visitor Center. Be sure to carry plenty of water, a flashlight, and a map.

The trail follows the canyons around Upheaval Dome. With a steep 1,300-foot elevation change, Syncline Loop requires experienced hikers to navigate sharp ledges, massive boulders, and steep slickrock. Rewarding in the end, this hike is not for the inexperienced.

Gooseberry Canyon Spring Hike

In early spring, the park’s steepest trail may be difficult to navigate depending on conditions. This is another hike you need to talk to the rangers about before heading out.

Gooseberry Canyon descends an incredible 1500 vertical feet. The views and scenery here are stunning but it will challenge your hiking abilities, only experienced hikers in great shape should tackle this trail.

Remember, if you go down, you’ll have to venture back up. The Gooseberry Canyon trail is unique because you hike below the level of the mesa, instead of viewing from overlooks above. When you’re at the bottom don’t forget to look up to see how far you’ve hiked.

Canyonlands Spring Hikes at The Needles

The Needles Canyonlands district makes up the southeast corner of Canyonlands National Park and gets its name from the hundreds of colorful spires that dominate the area.

Due to the remote area of this part of the park, you’ll need to pack everything you need and be prepared to be self-reliant!

We recommend you talk to the rangers before exploring any Canyonlands Needles hikes in the early spring.

Roadside Ruin at Needles Canyonlands
Roadside Ruin

Roadside Ruin Spring Hike

This easy, kid-friendly trail is short with only a few stone steps to navigate. The Roadside Ruin trail is highly trafficked but in good condition. Here you’ll get to see a Puebloan-era storage structure that was once used to store food.

The Roadside Ruin trail guide explains the ruins and points out the native plants you’ll see along the way.

Pothole Point
Pothole Point

Pothole Point Winter Hike

Although short, this trail is uphill and has uneven footing so might be considered moderate for some. Pothole Point is a short loop trail that crosses communities of sandstones with natural depressions called potholes.

To preserve these delicate potholes, it’s important to walk around them and avoid putting anything in them, even when they are dry. There are no trail guides, but small rock piles (cairns) show the way. Panoramic views from the trail are memorable and this trail offers one of the best viewpoints of the Needles.

Cowboy Camp Cave Spring Trail
Cowboy Camp

Cave Spring Trail Spring Hike

There’s a lot to see on the Cave Spring trail – a short loop that winds around a white and red sandstone mesa. You’ll pass Cave Spring, prehistoric rock paintings, well-preserved pictographs, and a historic cowboy camp with many original artifacts on display.

Be aware there are two wooden ladders to climb to reach the 360-degree panoramic view of the Needles district. This trail is easy for those who have no problem climbing the two ladders and the sandstone rock, but might be challenging for children or the elderly. It is recommended that you take the trail clockwise so you’re climbing up instead of down the ladders.

Slickrock Foot Trail Spring Hike

A moderate trail with most of the hike on the hard slickrock surface that gives the trail its name. This trail offers stunning views of the canyons and the Needles. Grab a Slickrock Trail brochure at the trailhead to help you identify the landmarks along the way.

We recommend the spurs to the 4 great overlooks to see amazing views. This is a good beginner hike with lots of potential for exploring, the strategically placed cairns make it easy to pick the trail back up. We recommend this trail in the morning or evening as you are exposed to the sun on this hike.

Chesler Park Trail at Needles Canyonlands
Chesler Park Trail

Chesler Park Loop Trail Spring Hike

This moderate trail is fun and popular because of its diversity in the landscape. The Needles Chesler Loop Trail has you climbing up and down over rock formations, through sand and various rock terrain, slit canyons, and grasslands. This is a beautiful trail with lots to explore and stunning panoramic views of the Needles.

Druid Arch at Needles Canyonlands
Druid Arch

Druid Arch Spring Hike

A favorite of the Canyonlands Needles hikes, Druid Arch is located about 5 ½ miles from the Elephant Hill Trailhead and offers one of the most spectacular views in the Needles district. The Druid Arch trail will have you scrambling through high desert, canyons, a maze of needles, up a steep ladder and a rock wall to get to the arch.

Confluence Overlook Spring Hike

Crossing through Big Spring Canyon, the Confluence Overlook Trail takes you through miles of open desert, areas of slickrock and deep packed sand, and ends at a dramatic cliff overlook with magnificent panoramic views of the Colorado and Green River confluence.

These two rivers define the three districts of Canyonlands National Park. At the overlook you can see the two rivers 1,000 feet below for a grand view. Make sure to check out the colored sandstone spires and a huge red butte along the trail.

Squaw Canyon to Lost Canyon Loop Spring Hike

The Squaw Canyon / Lost Canyon loop trail is combined for a pleasant hike that’ll take you over sandstone hills and slickrock, through a creek crossing, up a ladder, and through some challenging sections as you navigate between the two canyons.

You’ll see spectacular views and diversity along the trail. Slickrock, grasslands, tree-lined canyons, mesas, buttes, and mountains can all be seen from this scenic trail. Backcountry campsites are available at both Lost Canyon and Squaw Canyon, but a permit is required.

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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