A Day Exploring Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands is Utah’s largest national park and is split into 3 different areas by the Colorado and Green Rivers: Island in the Sky, The Maze and The Needles. Don’t they sound like regions from GoT?! 
Quoted from website linked above: ‘Though they appear close on a map, there are no roads that directly link the districts. Traveling between them requires two to six hours by car as there are few places to cross the rivers. Most people find it impractical to visit more than one area in a single trip.’

Island in the Sky is the most accessible, at least from our base in Moab. It took about an hour to drive there, following the same road as we had taken to get to Dead Horse Point State Park. Entrance fee was $30 per car. 

view at Mesa Arch
View at Mesa Arch

Our first stop, as always, was the Visitor Center. It was surprisingly small but we did catch the short video explaining the different regions and this was well worth a watch.
We then headed to Mesa Arch. It’s a short 0.6 mile walk to get to the arch. This is apparently a great spot for a sunrise photo but we were waaay too lazy this trip for too many early mornings. If you think you’re all arched-out after Arches National Park, think again: Mesa Arch is still totally awe inspiring and the view beyond is breathtaking.

Mesa Arch
My handsome papa at Mesa Arch
photo and edits: @john_biggs
Mesa Arch and the view beyond
Mesa Arch and the view beyond

We then drove down to Grand View Point, which lies at the southernmost point of the Island in the Sky scenic drive. From here, you can see the White Rim, features in The Maze and The Needles, and distant mountains. A short, paved sidewalk leads to a spectacular viewpoint. It truly is breathtaking. I kept thinking, ‘Why have I never heard of this park?’ Everyone’s heard of the Grand Canyon, but imho, the views here are even more spectacular. We decided to hike another mile to the second viewpoint.

Grand View Point hike
Taking in the view from Grand View Point hike
 Grand View Point hike
Selfie time!

I highly recommend this short hike. It allows for the most fantastic views and is also great fun: there are cairns marking the trail but no defined path, which I love; some steps; some slight climbing over rocks; you can get as close to the edge of the 1000 ft cliffs as you dare!
PS – as always, wear layers and sunscreen, even in late October! It was hot and we all got sunburnt.

woman at Island in the Sky
Eek, no photos with a cap on! 🙅🏼‍♀️

Find out about our first day of exploring the arches, hiking Delicate Arch and Devil’s Garden in Arches National Park, and an overview of Moab – how to get there, accommodation, costs etc!

Published by daniditcoucou

Traveling Teacher

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