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Canyonlands Island in the Sky is known for its scenic and expansive views.

When it comes to planning a trip, camping is one of the best ways to truly experience all there is to see and do at Island in the Sky.

Here’s all the information you need to know about the Canyonlands Island in the Sky campgrounds, as well as the BLM camping areas nearby.

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WHAT TO PACK FOR HIKING AT CANYONLANDS

To get the most out of visiting this park, you must be prepared with the right clothing and gear.

DOWNLOAD our Canyonlands National Park packing list for summer and winter.

Hiking Shoes – Injuries from improper footwear is a common problem that casual visitors and hikers encounter. To make your trip as safe and enjoyable as possible, avoid smooth-soled shoes and only wear sturdy shoes with ample tread. 

Check out the Merrell Moab hiking shoes we use.

Hydration and Food – Due to the high desert and altitude in Southeastern Utah, you should drink at least one gallon of water per day, and always carry water with you during all hiking activities.

Eat plenty of healthy snacks and food.

→ We use Camelbak hydration packs or carry Hydroflask bottles in our packs.

Lip Balm and Lotion – Utah’s high elevation and dry air can be hard on your skin. You’ll want to carry lip balm with sunscreen and hydrating lotion to apply as needed when you’re out exploring the trails.

Clothing – Summers in the park mean soaring temperatures, unrelenting sunlight, and low humidity. To keep cool, wear light colored, loose fitting UV protection clothing that does not absorb sunlight. Also avoid sun burn by wearing a wide brimmed hat and by generously applying sunscreen to any parts of your body that are exposed to the sun.

During the winter, wearing the right clothing is important to stay dry and warm. Take note that snow and ice can accumulate and make popular trails quite slippery. That’s why trekking poles and traction devices for your shoes are essential. It’s also just as easy to become dehydrated in the cold as it is in the heat. It’s important to carry plenty of water during the winter, and not just during the summer.

National Parks Pass – Before you visit Arches National Park be sure to pack your The America the Beautiful Annual Pass.

Other items we recommend – US national parks packing list

 

Island in the Sky Campgrounds

Willow Flat 

Willow Flat Campground is a small campground in Island in the Sky with 12 sites. It is fully operational all-year-round, but the sites fill quickly.

Island in the Sky (Willow Flat) Campground, Canyonlands National Park -  Recreation.gov
Photo Credit: Recreation.gov

The nice thing about this campground is that it’s only two minutes walk to the Green River Overlook and the spectacular view you’ll see there! 

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 also allows pets.

The site has a “first come, first served” policy. You can stay for a maximum of seven days.

Nearby Activities:

  • Hiking
  • Mountain biking
  • Off-roading
  • Photography 

Facilities:

  • Areas for pitching tents
  • Fire pits with grill plates
  • Pit toilets
  • Covered and uncovered picnic tables with benches

Island in the Sky Backpacking Camping Areas

During the spring and fall, permit availability is highly competitive. If you plan to visit Island in the Sky during peak season, you may have to reserve your permit up to four months in advance.

Go to Recreation.gov to reserve the overnight camping site for Island in the Sky backpacking:

  • Select “activities and experiences”
  • Select Canyonlands National Park Overnight Backcountry Permits
  • Click “check availability”
  • Add a date, number in your group and Island in the Sky backpacking
  • You’ll see availability for the various Zones

More information about overnight backpacking at Canyonlands.

Murphy Point Overlook (Murphy Point Zone)

Some campers believe that Murphy Point Overlook offers one of the best-kept secrets in camping due the view, especially at sunrise and sunset.

Murphy Point Overlook - Canyonlands | Grand Canyon Trust
Photo Credit: GrandCanyonTrust.org

There is a 1.8-mile hike to get to the overlook and camping area. There is a limit of one permit (1 group up to 7 people) for this camping zone. Murphy Point Overlook is an open desert site without facilities nearby

Syncline Campsite

The campsite is reached via the Syncline loop trail. The trail is a strenuous 7.9 miles round trip. It’s a primitive camping site.

BLM Camping Near Island in the Sky

Lone Mesa Camping

The Lone Mesa Campsite is perfect for a large group of people. It is not part of the Island in the Sky, but is just outside the park boundary.

Lone Mesa Group Camground | Grand Canyon Trust
Photo Credit: GrandCanyonTrust.org

Lone Mesa’s proximity to the Island in the Sky means it’s a popular place to stay so make reservations in advance! The campsite does not have potable water and electric hook-ups, so make sure to come prepared. 

Staying at Lone Mesa means you are also close to: Arches National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park, Gemini Bridges, the White Rim Trail, and the Green River.

Facilities:

  • Fire grates
  • Picnic tables
  • Shade shelters
  • Vault toilets
  • Parking areas
  • Water: No
  • Hook-ups: No

Horsethief Campground 

The campsites at Horsethief are surrounded by pygmy pinyon-juniper trees on the mesa above Moab with great views.

Horse Thief Campground - BLM - 3 Photos - Moab, UT - RoverPass
Photo Credit: RoverPass.com

Individual sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The Horsethief Group Site is available for reservation through Recreation.gov.

People enjoy staying here because of the nearby 4WD roads and mountain bike routes as well as Island in the Sky, Dead Horse Point and Arches National Park.

Facilities:

  • Individual Sites: 85 (limited to 10 people & two vehicles per site); Group Sites: 5 (reservable)
  • Pit Toilets
  • Picnic tables
  • Parking areas
  • Fire pits
  • Water: No
  • Hook-ups: No

Cowboy Campground 

You’ll find secluded campsites on the ridge of the mesas above Moab to enjoy stunning views.

High clearance required, no RVs, trailers or pull campers.

Individual sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The area has many 4WD roads and mountain bike routes and is close to Island in the Sky, Dead Horse Point and Arches.

Facilities:

  • Seven individual sites (limited to 10 people & two vehicles per site)
  • Pit toilets
  • Parking areas
  • Fire pits
  • Water: No
  • Hook-ups: No

Plan Your Trip to Canyonlands

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