Things to Do at Canyonlands National Park

If you love the outdoors, you’ll find a ton of things to do at Canyonlands National Park.

We’ve created a list of Canyonlands National Park vacation ideas to help you plan the activities you’ll do each day.

Use our list below to learn more about the various districts of Canyonlands (Island in the Sky and Needles) and all the fun activities like hiking, off-roading, photography and more!

We also share a general travel guide to help you get started planning your Canyonlands vacation. And don’t forget to check out our favorite 3 day itinerary for Arches and Canyonlands!

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Things to Do at Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands 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 in Canyonlands National Park, we recommend visiting Island in the Sky because it’s the most accessible and offers fantastic, panoramic views of the park along the 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 The 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.

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.

Best Time to Visit Canyonlands

There are important things to know about visiting Canyonlands during each season. Check out these lists of what it’s like to visit the park during the spring, summer, fall and winter.

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WHAT TO PACK FOR A TRIP TO 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 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.

During spring and fall, it’s all about layers! The mornings and evenings will be cool so have a fleece jacket handy!

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

But above all else, always make sure to carry enough food, water, and other essentials since Canyonlands is a remote park with few services and reliable sources of freshwater. 

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