Entrance Sign Canyonlands National Park Utah

Where is Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park is found deep in the southeastern portion of the state of Utah. Connected to and located near multiple parcels of other state and national parks Canyonlands National Park is also a mere 40-minute drive from the city of Moab. For those that wish to visit Salt Lake City first it will take them 3 hours and 52 minutes to drive to the park. St. George is a 4 hour and 59-minute drive from the park’s visitor center.

How Big is Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands US National Park encompasses a large amount of space, it covers approximately 257,640 acres which include several iconic land formations and sections of both the Green and Colorado River. There are also hundreds of miles of hiking trails spread out around the park, several of which are considered strenuous with elevation changes ranging from 1,000 to 2,000 feet. The park also contains 62 acres of untouched grasslands that are studied biannually due to how cattle are blocked from grazing due to the naturally occurring cliffs.

Beautiful Sunrise in Mesa Arch Canyonlands National Park Utah

Canyonlands National Park Weather

The land within and around Canyonlands National Park is considered a “Cold semi-arid climate” which is defined as the temperature during the coldest months having an average temperature below 32 degrees Fahrenheit and at least fifty percent of the yearly precipitation occurring during the spring and summer. The hottest time of the year lasts about 3.5 months of the year with an average temperature of 83 degrees which can often spike to about 95 degrees. The coldest time of the year lasts only 2.9 months of the year with an average low of 18 degrees. The rainiest part of the year is around the end of September, while the driest parts are from November to April, January having the least rainfall.

When did Canyonlands Become a National Park

Depending on the availability of resources, people have been visiting the area of Canyonlands National Park for over 100,000 years including several Pueblo and other native tribes. During the 1800’s non-indigenous people began to use the areas for multiple purposes, including miners and ranchers wanting to use the resources within the area. The park was officially established in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Things to do in Canyonlands National Park

Our National Park Visitors Guide created the following list that will go over some of the several activities that are open to visitors to Canyonlands National Park and help you plan for an enjoyable time at the park.


Canyonlands National Park offers a plethora of hiking opportunities for visitors that wish to explore the natural splendor of the park. The trails vary in size and difficulty, the easiest one being the Mesa Arch trail which is only .5 miles long and gives access to views of the La Sal Mountains. The longer backcountry trails, such as the Salt Creek Canyon trail, which is 22.5 miles long, may require an overnight permit to complete and are marked with rock cairns.


Backpacking is a highly popular activity at Canyonlands National Park, and the permits required for overnight stays can be extremely competitive. If you want to go during the peak seasons you may have to get a permit up to four months in advance of your trip. There are designated areas that you can camp in to ensure the preservation of the landscape and the ecology. There are three main sections of the park you can backpack, The Needles, Island in the Sky, and The Maze.

White Water Rafting

There is a fourteen mile stretch of whitewater along the Colorado River that is navigable by raft at Canyonlands National Park. Located in Cataract Canyon the intensity of the water ranges from class 3 to class 5 rapids making it a very treacherous patch of water along the river. Permits are required ahead of time and special considerations for water conditions should be taken into consideration.


Despite the areas where you can launch your canoe, kayak, or raft are outside the boundaries of Canyonlands National Park, in order to travel along either of the rivers you will have to obtain the appropriate permits and be able to present them to a park ranger at any time. Campsites are also available from April 14-October 15 and October 16-April 13, you may obtain a permit up to four months before these seasons.

Conifer Tree Over Looking Canyonlands National Park Utah


Because of the unique preserved beauty of the harsh landscapes that make up Canyonlands National Park, visitors have the capability of capturing memories to share with loved ones and friends when they leave. The hundreds of trails that navigate through and around the rock formations offer perfect vantage points for photographers.

Four Wheel Driving

Canyonlands National Park also offers hundreds of miles of unpaved roads that are navigable by four-wheel drive vehicles and motorbikes equipped for interstate travel. The three main areas that are accessible are the White Rim Road, The Needles, and The Maze. A permit is necessary for both day trips and overnighters. No pets are allowed even if they are within the vehicles.

When to go to Canyonlands National Park

The weather and the terrain found in and around Canyonlands National Park makes for strenuous and difficult adventures, especially for those that are not accustomed to exerting their bodies in harsh environments. The most popular times to visit the park line up with the most pleasant months of the year, typically from late spring to early fall. For those that wish to spend time hiking, backpacking, and canoeing here the earlier summer months and earlier fall months can have the most desirable weather to travel in. Visitors wanting to sightsee and photograph the unique landscapes and wildlife that live within the park can come and go all throughout the year depending on their ability to withstand the harsher weather in the not so popular winter and early spring months.

Must-Have Things to Bring to Canyonlands National Park

Because of the harsh conditions and length of trails found in Canyonlands National Park, List of Parks wants to ensure that you bring the necessary gear and supplies to have a safe and enjoyable trip to the park.


You would be hard pressed to find anything edible throughout your stay in Canyonlands National Park if you didn’t bring anything with you. As long as you follow the proper practices of cleaning up after yourself and reducing your impact on the landscape you are allowed to bring the food necessary for you and your party.


There are few places to get clean water within Canyonlands National Park due to its arid and harsh conditions year-round, you will have to bring enough water with you to last the duration of your trip. It is a good idea to bring a purifier in the event you do find a water source along your path.

First Aid Kit

Because of the intense nature of the landscape and weather conditions found in Canyonlands National Park, a first aid kit that has the proper number of supplies and tools can be the difference between a tragedy and a safe trip home in the event of an emergency.

Proper Shoes

The trails at Canyonlands National Park are no joke, and proper considerations for footwear should be taken. Bring shoes or boots that will not only withstand the intense trails but also keep your feet comfortable and free from pain while you hike the trails.

Sunsetting Over Spires in Canyonlands National Park Utah

Proper Clothes

The weather and temperatures can change drastically in the area around Canyonlands National Park, and while it doesn’t rain or snow as much as other parts of the country if you’re caught in the element’s circumstances can get dire quickly. Be sure to bring the appropriate clothing to keep you dry and comfortable no matter the conditions you’re in.


While the trails are marked with rock cairns all throughout the backcountry of Canyonlands National Park, they are rarely maintained and may be inaccurate due to a number of reasons. You should always keep an accurate topographical map and a compass with you to help ensure that you don’t get lost on the trails.

Canoe/Kayak Gear

If you plan on floating through the rivers in Canyonlands National Park you should research ahead of time the appropriate gear, you’ll need to have a safe and enjoyable trip while getting the unique waterside view of the ancient canyons.

Backpacking Gear

When backpacking Canyonlands National Park, you should take into consideration the type of terrain, weather, and distances you’ll be traveling in and through when selecting backpacking gear. Be sure to bring only what you’ll need and lightweight options to help reduce fatigue.

Camping Gear

There are many options to camp within Canyonlands National Park, be sure to bring the gear and supplies that will help keep the elements off of you and your gear to ensure a safe and comfortable stay.


If you want to photograph the beauty of Canyonlands National Park, you’ll want to bring a good quality camera and equipment that will help you capture the serene beauty of the landscape.


Canyonlands National Park offer a lot of spectacular views to some of the most unique landscapes in the world, some of them are found a way off of the trails and since off trail travel is discouraged a quality pair of binoculars will give you the advantage you need to see the distant features that will catch your eye.

Safety Gear

Canyonlands National Park can be a wonderful and fun place to visit, but an emergency can always strike no matter how careful you are. Be sure to bring the appropriate safety gear no matter the activity to ensure that even if an emergency does happen, you’ll be able to return home.

Where to Stay in Canyonlands National Park

There are several options for visitors to spend the night in and around the park. Because of how close the city of Moab is from Canyonlands National Park; visitors may want to consider exclusively driving back and forth from the city as there are many differently priced hotels and motels that you can choose from depending on your budget. But for visitors who wish to have a more in-depth experience can choose to get the appropriate permits and camp within the designated areas.

Hiker Standing on Cliff Edge in Canyonlands National Park Utah

Food Nearby Canyonlands National Park

While you are permitted to bring food within the borders of Canyonlands National Park and along the miles of trails and rivers, you will have to follow strict “leave no trace” practices to both protect the primitive landscape of the park as well as avoid any legal trouble. But the city of Moab has many restaurants that can be traveled to in less than forty minutes from the park’s visitor center. 

Airports Near Canyonlands National Park

The southeastern portion of the state of Utah is mostly inhospitable land or already privatized; there are no usable airports immediately nearby Canyonlands National Park. However, the nearest airport within the state of Utah is the Salt Lake City International Airport which is about a 3 hour and 52-minute drive away. Also, visitors can also travel to the Grand Junction Regional Airport located in Colorado which is only 1 hour and 55-minute drive from the visitor center.

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