Easy Hikes at Canyonlands Island in the Sky and Needles

Canyonlands National Park is located in Southeast Utah and is known for its red-rock canyons and towering sandstone formations. Here’s a list of the best easy hikes at Canyonlands found at the Island in the Sky district and the Needles district.

This Canyonlands National Park guide will detail the best easy hiking trails, recommended hiking gear, and tips for visiting the park.

easy Canyonlands National Park hikes

Canyonlands National Park is 527 square miles of beautiful, rugged landscape that has been transformed into a multitude of canyons, mesas, buttes, and arches by the erosion of the Green and Colorado rivers.

Hiking is one of the best ways to explore this amazing Utah National Park. There are Canyonlands hiking trails for all levels: easy, moderate and strenuous. This article will highlight the easy hikes at Canyonlands!

We live a few hours away from Canyonlands so we get to visit often. The tips we share here are based on our experience hiking at this park throughout the years!

Due to the desert environment at Canyonlands, it’s important to stay hydrated, use sun protection, and get the latest weather information before hitting the trails any time of year.

Use our Canyonlands Packing List to make sure you have the right clothing and gear for hiking any time of year! Grab your free printable packing checklist by clicking the image below!

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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!

Tips For Hiking at Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands Districts: The park is subdivided along the Green and Colorado Rivers into four unique districts. Canyonlands Island in the Sky is the most accessible district and offers panoramic views of the park! 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.

Canyonlands Weather: When planning your vacation be sure you know what Canyonlands National Park weather to expect during the time of your visit. Spring and Fall you’ll enjoy the most moderate temperatures and weather. Summer will be HOT with highs near 100 degrees F. During the winter, hiking may be a bit more limited due to cold or snowy conditions!

Canyonlands Hiking Gear: It’s important to be prepared with the right clothing and gear for hiking at Canyonlands! Due to the remote location of both districts, always be prepared with water, food and proper clothing so you can be self-reliant.

  • Wicking clothing: Loose-fitting, light-colored, wicking clothing for spring, summer, and fall.
  • Sunhat: Sun protection year round
  • Fleece jacketLayers are key during the spring/fall.
  • Insulated jacket: You’ll want a heavier jacket, hat, and gloves during the winter.
  • Darn Tough hiking socks: Do not wear cotton socks. Darn Tough Socks are comfortable, breathe well, and prevent blisters!
  • Sturdy hiking shoesHiking shoes or boots should be sturdy with good tread and traction. Use waterproof shoes in the winter.
  • Water: Carry and drink at least two liters of water. Use refillable water bottles or hydration packs. You can get water at the Visitor Center and Devil’s Garden Trailhead. We carry Propel powder packets to add to our water to help replace electrolytes.
  • Sunscreen: Apply sunscreen to all exposed skin! Due to the dry heat, you’ll also want lip balm and lotion!
  • Snacks: Pack salty and easy to digest snacks to replace electrolytes.
hiking gear and clothing

Easy Hikes at Canyonlands Island in the Sky

Some of the best Island in the Sky hikes are rated easy for everyone to see the incredible landscapes at this park!

There is not much shade at Canyonlands National Park, so it’s best to hit the trails in the early morning or later in the day when the temperatures aren’t as hot, and the sun isn’t as intense!

Mesa Arch at Canyonlands
Mesa Arch at Canyonlands

Mesa Arch Easy Hike

The Mesa Arch hike is short 0.7 mile loop trail and perfect for all ages and abilities. It will take you about thirty minutes and leads to the iconic Mesa Arch along the cliff’s edge.

This is a popular spot for photographers to capture the Canyonlands sunrise through the arch. Remember to use a headlamp if you’ll be hiking in the dark to get to the arch to watch sunrise!

Grand View Point
Grand View Point

Grand View Point Easy Hike

The Grand View Point trail is an easy in-and-out 1.8 mile round-trip hike that follows the canyon edge of Island in the Sky mesa and takes about an hour and a half. The cliff edges do not have rails to watch children!

You can also just walk to the viewpoint to see views of the white rim canyons, mountain ranges on the distant horizon, and the White Rim Road down below.

Grand View Point showcases some of the best panoramic views and another good sunrise photo spot at Canyonlands.

White Rim Overlook
White Rim Overlook

White Rim Overlook Easy Hike

The White Rim Overlook gets its name from the layer of white sandstone that forms at the edges of the canyon rim. You can find the trailhead at the south end of Island in the Sky.

This 1.8 mile round-trip trail takes about an hour and a half and is best viewed in the late afternoon to see east-facing views of the Colorado River and La Sal Mountains.

There is extremely limited trailhead parking here, but it’s worth it for the spectacular panoramic view from the overlook.

Photography Gear For Hiking

Easy Hikes at Canyonlands 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.

The Canyonlands Needles are home to a multitude of arches, canyons, and cliffs all surrounded by a rough, rugged landscape. Most of the Canyonlands Needles hikes are rated Moderate to Difficult. Here are the hikes rated easy in this district.

Roadside Ruin
Roadside Ruin

Roadside Ruin Easy Hike

This easy, kid-friendly trail is short with only a few stone steps to navigate. It’s about 0.3 miles round-trip and takes about 20 minutes.

The Roadside Ruin trail is pretty popular because you get to see a cool Puebloan-era storage structure that was once used to store food. The trail guides explain the ruins and points out the native plants you’ll see along the way.

Pothole point easy hike
Pothole point

Pothole Point Easy Hike

The Pothole Point is a short loop trail 0.6 miles round-trip and takes about 40 minutes. Although short, this trail is uphill and has uneven footing so might be considered moderate for some.

As you hike be sure to notice the sandstone has natural depressions called potholes. The potholes have tiny, sensitive ecosystems that come to life as water collects within the pothole. There are days when you might see tadpoles in the water.

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.

cowboy camp at Needles
Cowboy Camp at Needles

Cave Spring Easy Hike

Along the Cave Spring trail you’ll pass Cave Spring, prehistoric rock paintings, well-preserved pictographs, and a historic cowboy camp with many original artifacts on display.

The full loop hike is 0.6 miles round-trip and takes about 45 minutes. To complete the full hike you’ll need to climb two wooden ladders. It is recommended that you take the trail clockwise so you’re climbing up instead of down the ladders.

Ladder along Cave Spring Trail
Ladder along Cave Spring Trail

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. For those who don’t want to do the ladder section of the hike, you can explore the Cave Spring and Cowboy Camp then return back to the trailhead.

Arches Canyonlands guides and maps

BUY AT AMAZON: Arches and Canyonlands Guides and Maps

More Easy Hikes in Utah

Canyonlands Itinerary

Check out these Canyonlands Itineraries to visit Island in the Sky and Needles depending on the time you have to visit!

Click the graphic below to get your free Canyonlands Travel Bundle to help you plan your vacation based on the number of days you have to spend at the park!

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