Hikes in Canyonlands National Park

Imagine expansive canyons stretching clear to the horizon. Now place a towering mesa a thousand feet above the canyon rim and picture the view. That is the experience from the Island in the Sky in Canyonlands National Park.

Highlights of Canyonlands National Park

  • This 0.7-mile loop visits a picturesque arch spanning across the mesa’s edge in the Island in the Sky in Canyonlands National Park.
  • This 1.8-mile lollipop loop in the Island in the Sky in Canyonlands National Park ascends a dome-shaped butte that boasts Puebloan granaries and a nice view of Taylor Canyon.
  • This 0.6 to 1.7-mile hike visits two overlooks along the rim of a puzzling three-mile wide crater in the Island in the Sky in Canyonlands National Park.
  • This 3.6-mile hike visits a west-facing point on the Island in the Sky in Canyonlands National Park that overlooks canyons carved by the Green River.
  • This 2-mile hike travels along the mesa’s edge from Grand View Overlook to the southernmost point on Canyonland's Island in the Sky for views of the canyons framing Junction Butte.
  • This 1.8-mile hike visits the end of a peninsula in the Island in the Sky in Canyonlands National Park with 300-degree views of the canyons below.

Hiking Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park is vast, protecting over 500 square miles of wild canyon country to the west and south of Moab, Utah. Canyonlands is the largest national park in the state. Canyonlands National Park is divided into three districts: Island in the Sky, the Needles, and the Maze. A fee of $25 per vehicle is charged to enter Canyonlands National Park (price as of 2017).

The northernmost district, Island in the Sky, is just a thirty-mile drive from Moab (and the entrance to Arches National Park). A paved road accesses the Needles Area from Monticello, Utah, but 4X4 roads are the only way to access the Maze (other than on foot or boat). The trails through these remote river-carved landscapes possess a pristine beauty all their own.

Island in the Sky is a triangle-shaped mesa north of the confluence of the earth-shaping Colorado and Green Rivers. The broad island mesa provides lofty panoramic views. Park roads allow quick passage across the mesa, making it easy to experience a variety of short trails in just one day. Upheaval Dome, Mesa Arch, and Grand View Point are the island’s most prominent landmarks. In addition to trails, the park offers many fine scenic overlooks. Dramatic lighting enhances the views from the mesa, making early morning and late afternoon the best times to hike. Summer temperatures frequently cross into the triple digits, so plan accordingly.

Campgrounds
Camping in the Island in the Sky district is scarce, limited to one twelve-site first-come first-serve campground. Fortunately, there are numerous campgrounds operated by the Bureau of Land Management around Moab. Horse Thief Campground is ten miles north of the Island in the Sky Visitor Center and offers sixty sites.

Canyonlands National Park Hike

This collection of trails in the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park lists hikes from north to south. The table may also be sorted alphabetically or by distance to help you pick your next hike. Each trail links to its own report complete with photos, GPS maps, elevation profiles, directions, and all the other information needed to locate and enjoy these hikes. You can also view hikes around Canyonlands National Park on the Hike Finder Map.

Trail
Description
Distance
Location
Canyonlands Upheaval Dome400Upheaval Dome
This out and back hike visits two overlooks along the rim of a puzzling three-mile wide crater.
0.6 - 1.7 miles
200 feet
38.4263,
-109.9261
Canyonlands Whale Rock410Whale Rock
This out and back hike ascends a whale-shaped sandstone formation near Upheaval Dome.
1 mile
250 feet
38.42685,
-109.91401
Aztec Butte Canyonlands420Aztec Butte
This lollipop loop hike ascends a dome-shaped butte that boasts Puebloan granaries and a nice view of Taylor Canyon.
1.3 - 1.8 miles
250 feet
38.39345,
-109.88205
Mesa Arch Canyonlands430Mesa Arch
This loop visits a picturesque arch spanning across the mesa’s edge.
0.7 miles
75 feet
38.38915,
-109.8681
Murphy Point Canyonlands440Murphy Point
This out and back hike visits a west-facing point on the Island in the Sky overlooking canyons carved by the Green River.
3.6 miles
150 feet
38.35497, -109.8638
White Rim Overlook450White Rim Overlook
This out and back hike visits the end of a peninsula in the Island in the Sky with 300-degree views of the canyons below.
1.8 miles
170 feet
38.3228, -109.8495
Canyonlands Grand View Point460Grand View Point
This out and back hike travels along the mesa’s edge from Grand View Overlook to the southernmost point on the Island in the Sky.
2 miles
80 feet
38.3108,
-109.8566
View Utah trails and campground in a larger map
Or explore hikes around Canyonlands National Park on the Hike Finder Map
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Watchman Trail Zion National Park hike
The closest trail to the south entrance of Zion Nation Park, and one of the best introductions to Zion, is Watchman Trail. This 3.5-mile lollipop loop climbs 500 feet to a rocky bench on the east side of Zion Canyon. The destination serves up stunning views of a nearby tower named The Watchman and several standout rock formations on the walls of Zion Canyon. From the... Read more.
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Tagged with · Desert Canyons · National Parks · Zion Canyon
Distance: 3.5 miles · Elevation change: 500 feet
By: Published: Last updated: May 22, 2017
Canyon Overlook Trail Zion National Park hike
Rarely is a mile-long hike as action packed and rewarding as Canyon Overlook Trail. The overlook sits on the rim of Pine Creek Canyon, which adjoins Zion Canyon to provide massive views of thousand-foot tall sandstone bluffs. There are ravines and overhangs along the short trail that will keep you entertained along the way. This excellent hike is appealing to all,... Read more.
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Tagged with · Desert Canyons · National Parks · Zion Canyon
Distance: 1 mile · Elevation change: 150 feet
By: Published: Last updated: May 22, 2017
Riverside Walk Zion National Park trail river narrows hike
Riverside Walk accesses the notorious narrows north of Zion Canyon, making it one of the most popular trails in Zion National Park. To the end of the trail (at the start of the narrows) and back is a 1.8-mile hike over a level walkway bordering the Virgin River. Those looking to escape the Utah summer heat can leave the trail at any of several river access points to take... Read more.
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Tagged with · Creeks · Desert Canyons · National Parks · Zion Canyon
Distance: 1.8 miles · Elevation change: 60 feet
By: Published: Last updated: May 22, 2017
Moab Campgrounds
If you are visiting Arches or Canyonlands and are planning to camp, you should know that camping within these national parks is very limited. Fortunately, the Bureau of Land Management operates 25 developed campgrounds (with over 400 individual sites) outside these parks around the city of Moab. Each of the BLM campgrounds are first-come first-serve, so it is best to... Read more.
By: Published: Last updated: April 5, 2017
Utah Hikes Negro Bill Canyon Trail Morning Glory Bridge hike Colorado River Moab Utah Hike
This 4.65-mile round trip hike starts above the banks of the Colorado River east of Moab, Utah, and travels up a scenic canyon alongside a much smaller stream. The trek terminates at a stunning 243-foot long natural bridge, the sixth largest natural rock span in America. The level dirt trail to Morning Glory Bridge ascends just 300 feet and offers plenty of serenity along... Read more.
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Tagged with · Bureau of Land Management · Creeks · Desert Canyons · Free Trails · Moab · Natural Bridges
Distance: 4.65 miles · Elevation change: 300 feet
By: Published: Last updated: June 4, 2017