A Winter Trip to Canyonlands Makes for Unforgettable Memories

Visiting Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park… a destination that sounds like it should be a board game. This U.S. National Park in Utah is very close to the town of Moab, Utah which is the optimal place for lodging if you are staying a few days in the area. We made the trip having flown into Salt Lake City and enjoyed the very scenic drive through the beautiful Utah landscape desert, forest and mountain landscapes.  Canyonlands it nearby Arches National Park making the area an ideal destination to see scenic views made famous in movies like Mission Impossible 2, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Thelma and Louis and many more.  We have been to the Grand Canyon, and will honestly say that Canyonlands views rival those seen there. We would argue that Canyonlands is easier to get to and nearer to other top destinations.

Three Best Things About Canyonlands National Park

1) Grand View Point Overlook is found at the most southern point of the Island In The Sky drive and offers some of the best canyon views of the whole park.  It only takes 15 minutes to get there from the visitor center if you make no stops.  This is also notable for not being a very long hike.  It’s only 100 yards along a paved path from the parking area to see the views.  From the main view point, you can take another mile of unpaved trails to some more exciting views.

2) Mesa Arch is something you have been on a screensaver or on a friends social media post.  It’s a very famous site amongst the US National Park’s best views.  What’s unique about this arch is that it’s not in the nearby Arches National Park, and the views in the distance include the beauty of the canyons as well as the distant mountains  It’s also relatively easy to get to from the parked car, with only a half mile walk through easy terrain.  This can be found in the Isle In The Sky District which is the most visited and easiest part of the park to navigate.

3) River Trips – The Colorado and Green rivers wind through the heart of Canyonlands.  One of the best things to do while visiting a US national park, is to look into various options for trips down the rivers.  Don’t always think it would be like a white water rafting experience.  Some times, slow and easy float trips with guides are available to speak to the local wildlife and plants.  These quiet trips down rivers are actually one of the best way to see the land.  Whitewater rafting is definitely an option in Canyonlands. 

Other Key Sites

The Needles
The Maze District
Horseshoe Canyon
Cataract Canyon

How to get to Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands is conveniently nearby to Arches National Park allowing for both parks to be options to explore while staying in the nearby town of Moab. We have been to the Grand Canyon, and will honestly say that Canyonlands views rival those seen there. We would argue that Canyonlands is easier to get to and nearer to other top destinations.  The drive can be made in from Colorado via Interstate 70 or you can fly into Salt Lake City and take the 4 hour drive through the picturesque utah landscape.  The drive from Denver and Las Vegas are about 8 hours but with many destinations to stop along the way

Places to Eat

Simple snacks can often be bought at the visitor centers in the park.  You might be able to find something at the Isle in The Sky Visitor Center.  Beyond that, Moab is is 30 minute drive from the entrance to the park, and has several restaurant and grocery options.

Watch Out For

Weather can have a big impact on your experience.  We visited in the winter so when dressed right, it can be comfortable and the snow and ice can make the views extra interesting.  That said, the ice can make some hikes dangerous or trails closed.  We bought some spikes (from the Visitor Center) to put on our shoes for traction which was only needed in a few instances.

If you want to read more about national parks, head over to this article about Jackson Hole and Yellowstone

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