Things to Do at Canyonlands Island in the Sky

If you love the outdoors, you’ll find a ton of things to do at Canyonlands Island in the Sky.

Use the list below and our Canyonlands National Park guide to help you plan the activities you’ll do each day.

things to do at canyonlands island in the sky

The most popular district of Canyonlands is Island in the Sky. You’ll enjoy fun activities like hiking, off-roading, photography and more!

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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 Island in the Sky

Before visiting Canyonlands National Park it’s important to know that the park 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: hiking trails, scenic drive, rock climbing, offroad driving and photography to name a few.

Use our guides below to help you plan the perfect itinerary when visiting the park.

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When is the Best Time to Visit Canyonlands Island in the Sky

Finding the best time to visit Canyonlands National Park all depends on the activities you want to do, and the type of weather you’ll enjoy.

The Canyonlands National Park weather is drastically different during the spring, summer, fall, and winter.

We’ve written articles detailing what you’ll expect when visiting Canyonlands during the various seasons and months of the year.

Things To Do at Canyonlands Island in the Sky

Here’s a list of the fun activities and things to do at Canyonlands National Park when you visit the Island in the Sky district:

Island in the Sky Visitor Center

If this is your first time visiting the park, stop at the Canyonlands Island in the Sky Visitor Center. Check the operating hours for the dates you’ll be there.

Take time to talk to the park ranger to get information about things you are interested in seeing and doing. Get tips and ideas on other things to do as well! You’ll find exhibits, book and map sales, backcountry permits, picnic area, and general information. Water is available year-round.

Island in the Sky Scenic Drives

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!

upheaval dome at Canyonlands Island in the Sky

Island in the Sky Hikes

Exploring the Canyonlands hikes is one of the best activities to appreciate this park. Remember to stay hydrated and carry a hydration pack or a refillable water bottle in your backpack. And since most of the trails are fully exposed to the sun, you’ll need sun protection like a sunhatsunscreen and sunglasses.

Here’s a list of good Island in the Sky hikes we recommend: Mesa Arch, Grand View Point, Aztec Butte and Upheaval Dome.

Mesa Arch at sunrsie

Island in the Sky Photography

If you love landscape photography, you’re in for a treat with the landscape views you’ll see at Island in the Sky! Canyonlands National Park photography is best at sunrise and sunset. Our favorite sunrise spots at Island in the Sky are Grand View Point and Mesa Arch. We like the Colorado River Overlook at sunset.

Stop at all the viewpoints along the scenic drive at Island in the Sky to capture stunning vistas!

If you’re looking for a 3-day itinerary to capture best photo spots at Canyonlands Island in the Sky….

check out our Arches & Canyonlands Photography Guide.

Arches and Canyonlands photography guide

Island in the Sky Stargazing

Stargazing at Island in the Sky Canyonlands will blow you away! 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. Island in the Sky 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!

View looking down on Shaefer Trail at Canyonlands

Island in the Sky 4×4 Trails

Another experience of a lifetime is driving the Shafer Trail! If you have the right vehicle, you might want to try this challenging, unpaved backcountry road in Island in the Sky that connects with Moab.

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!

More Canyonlands Activities

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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!

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