Things to Do at Canyonlands National Park in April

If you enjoy outdoor activities, check out this list of things to do at Canyonlands National Park in April like hiking, biking, scenic drives, and photography to explore the unique landscape of towering mesas and deep river canyons!

Canyonlands National Park in April is a popular spring break destination so expect crowds. There will be more people on the trails, busy campsites, and crowded scenic viewpoints with photographers.

Canyonlands National Park in April list of things to do

You’ll find a variety of things to do at Canyonlands National Park for photographers, nature enthusiasts, and adventure-seekers. The temperatures in April are warm enough for comfortable daytime outdoor activities.

We live only a few hours away from Canyonlands so we’ve had the opportunity to visit many times during every season. The tips we share are based on our experiences visiting Canyonlands throughout the years, and specifically for the month of April! Use this Canyonlands National Park guide to plan your April vacation: what to pack, where to stay, and things to do.

Our biggest tip is to be prepared for the temperatures and weather so you’re able to enjoy the outdoor activities you want to do at Canyonlands! Use our Canyonlands Packing List to make sure you have the right clothing and gear for visiting in April! Grab your free printable packing checklist by clicking the image below!

canyonlands packing list optin box
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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!

Things to Do at Canyonlands National Park in April

Canyonlands is a rugged and remote Utah National Park with a landscape perfect for hiking, camping, and off-road adventures. The scenic vistas overlooking the Colorado and Green rivers, and the intricate maze of canyons, make it a haven for photographers and nature lovers as well.

Check out all the fun Canyonlands National Park spring activities during the month of April!

Visitor Centers and Ranger-Led Programs in April at Canyonlands

We recommend stopping at the Visitor Centers at both parks. They are open every day in April. Check the Canyonlands website for the updated hours of operation.

The park ranger is available to give information about things you are interested in seeing and doing. You’ll find exhibits, book and map sales, backcountry permits, picnic area, and general information. Water is available year-round.

Ranger Programs at Canyonlands usually begin again on April 1, but be sure to check the website or with the rangers for the most updated information. At Island in the Sky the programs are: Geology Talk, Patio Talk, Evening Program, and Full Moon Hikes/Stargazing. At Needles the programs are: Cave Spring Guided Walk and Evening Program or Constellation Tour.

If you’ll be visiting Canyonlands National Park with kids, there are fun ways to get everyone excited before, during and after the trip with National Park activities:

Canyonlands Needles

Scenic Drives in April at Canyonlands

The Island in the Sky scenic drive runs 34 miles (round trip) atop the mesa with 10 stunning viewpoints to see and photograph the park’s canyons, mesas, and buttes! Allocate a few hours for this adventure, as you’ll likely find yourself pausing often at the numerous viewpoints to soak in the magnificent scenery and capture those perfect Canyonlands National Park photos.

From the Needles Canyonlands Visitor Center, the scenic drive continues 6.5 miles and ends at Big Spring Canyon Overlook. There are several pullouts and viewpoints along the road to stop and enjoy the views.

There are also two more amazing scenic drives to see different views of Island in the Sky and Needles if you have the time!

We recommend the Canyonlands GyPSy Guide App to hear fun behind-the scenes stories and local tips that play automatically as you drive, based on your GPS location.

upheaval dome at Canyonlands Island in the Sky
Upheaval Dome Hike

Hikes in April at Canyonlands

Exploring the Canyonlands National Park hikes in the spring 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.

  • Island in the Sky hikes: Mesa Arch, Grand View Point, Aztec Butte, and Upheaval Dome
  • Canyonlands Needles hikes: Roadside Ruin, Pothole Point, Cave Spring. There are a few popular difficult hikes as well: Chelser Park Loop and Druid Arch trails.

In April the temperatures will be moderate, but it’s a desert environment so 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.

To avoid the crowds, we recommend you hit the trails in the morning, or later in the afternoon.

Biking on Shafer Trail
Biking on Shafer Trail

Biking in April at Canyonlands

For biking enthusiasts looking to turn the adventure up a notch, Canyonlands National Park offers some of the most breathtaking and challenging mountain biking trails in the United States.

Some of the backcountry roads for biking at Canyonlands require a permit so be sure to check in advance:

  • White Rim Road: 100-mile loop around and below the Island in the Sky mesa.
  • Elephant Hill Road: one of the most technical roads in Utah
  • Colorado Overlook Road: can be sandy for mountain bikes

You can also ride your bike at both Island in the Sky and Needles on the paved roads.

Mesa Arch at sunrsie by Photo Jeepers
Mesa Arch at sunrise

Photography in April at Canyonlands

For the best Canyonlands National Park photography aim to visit during the golden hours of sunrise and sunset when the light is soft and diffused. The colors are vibrant and the light creates a spectacular glow on the red rocks that cannot be missed.

Our favorite photo spots for sunrise and sunset are:

Mesa Arch is an iconic photo spot at sunrise so you won’t be the only one there. You’ll need to plan ahead and arrive WELL BEFORE sunrise in order to get a good spot. The area for taking the famous sunrise shot is small.

Our best tip for photographing Mesa Arch: stay after sunrise! The golden glow on the under side of the Arch continues for quite a while, and you can capture awesome photos when all the other photographers have left.

Check out our Arches & Canyonlands Photography Guide and Itinerary if you’re serious about getting the BEST photos! We share the best photography spots at each park for sunrise, sunset and even night time…and give you our favorite 3 day itinerary! 

milky way over Mesa Arch
Milky way over Mesa Arch

Stargazing in April at Canyonlands

Did you know Canyonlands has the slogan “Half the Park is After Dark”? On a clear night, the sky is literally filled with stars so definitely take one evening to stay after the sun set and LOOK UP!

Canyonlands National Park is internationally recognized as one of the best places for stargazing because of its remote location, accessibility, altitude and clear skies.

Astrophotographers from around the world visit Canyonlands so you won’t be alone in the park at night. In April the milky way is visible from 1:00 am to 4:45 am.

Be sure to use a headlamp with a red light to navigate in the dark. The red light minimizes the disruption of night vision and allows you and other photographers around you to see their surroundings while preserving the sensitivity of their eyes to low-light conditions.

Jeep trail at Canyonlands Needles
Jeep trail at Canyonlands Needles

4×4 Trails in April at Canyonlands

April could be a rainy month, making some of the 4×4 trails in Canyonlands impassable. Check with park rangers for the up-to-date conditions of the specific trail you want to drive before heading out!

If you’re up for a thrill of a lifetime, and have the right vehicle, we recommend Shafer Trail! It’s a challenging, unpaved backcountry road in Island in the Sky that connects with Moab.

We also enjoy the 4×4 trails at Needles Canyonlands, but check to see if you’ll need a permit for the trail you want to drive.

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!

If you don’t have the right vehicle, or don’t feel confident driving, we recommend you book a Canyonlands 4WD Tour. A professional guide will will highlight arch formations and other towering landscapes as you drive through the red-rock areas of the park.

Guided Tours in April at Canyonlands

With experienced guides on Canyonlands National Park tours, you can explore all the amazing sights the park has to offer and make sure you don’t miss anything.

Whether you’re looking for a half-day or full-day excursion, there are plenty of Canyonlands National Park tours available to fit your needs: guided hikes, canyoneering, biking, and photography!

River rafting Colorado River
Rafting the Colorado River

River Rafting in April at Canyonlands

The Colorado and Green Rivers can be explored with canoes, kayaks, rafts, and shallow-water boats. In April you’ll also find sections for whitewater river rafting near Canyonlands! 

Canyonlands river permit: required for all private river trips through the park. You may reserve overnight permits up to four months before the following seasons and reservations close two days prior to a launch date. Day use permits are available year round.

Guided Canyonlands river rafting trips: local outfitters in Moab offer half-day to week-long guided trips with several nights of camping.

Moab Stand Up Paddleboarding Tour: another fun way to enjoy the Colorado River!

Needles Campground
Needles Campground

Camping in April at Canyonlands

You’ll find Canyonlands National Park camping at both districts:

Island in the Sky Campground: There is one small campground with 12 sites that is fully operational all-year-round. All sites are first-come, first-served – there are NO reservations. In April the sites fill quickly, but there are more camping options in the area we’ll share below.

Needles Canyonlands Camping: There are 26 individual camping sites and three group sites around the Needles district. Fourteen campsites in Loop A are always on a “first come, first served” basis. Twelve campsites in Loop B an be reserved in April, but again they fill quickly!

There are many RV Parks near Canyonlands National Park if you can’t get a spot in the park.

Or you can find BLM areas for camping around Moab as well.

Lodging Near Canyonlands in April

If camping isn’t your thing, there are a variety of options so you can find the best place to stay for your travel style and budget near Canyonlands:

What It’s Like at Canyonlands National Park in April

April is one of the busiest months when it’s spring break in Utah. The best ways to escape the crowds is to enter the park early in the morning before 6 a.m. or late afternoon after 5 p.m.

Canyonlands April Weather

The Canyonlands National Park weather in April is moderate with average highs are near 70 degrees and lows around 40 degrees F. Keep in mind the weather can be unpredictable if a storm rolls through with rain.

Dress in layers when visiting in Canyonlands in April and pack at a minimum:

Canyonlands is a dry desert environment so be sure to also pack lip balm and lotion!

spring hiking gear

Things To Do Near Canyonlands in April

Arches Canyonlands guides and maps

BUY AT AMAZON: Arches and Canyonlands Guides and Maps

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