WUDN

March-2024

Exploring the Great Outdoors: 5 Must-Visit Features of Every National Park in the United States

WUDN Outdoor Adventure (National Park Series)

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Part 17 of Our National Park Series

Canyonlands National Park

National Park Series > Southwestern US > Canyonlands National Park

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In the heart of Utah's red rock country lies Canyonlands National Park, a rugged expanse of canyons, mesas, and arches just waiting to be explored. Adventure-seekers will find no shortage of thrills here, whether it's navigating the white-water rapids of the mighty Colorado River or mountain biking along the park's challenging trails. For a bird's-eye view of the park's stunning landscapes, take to the skies on a scenic hot air balloon ride, where you'll soar above the labyrinthine canyons and catch glimpses of ancient petroglyphs etched into the rock walls below.

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Canyonlands National Park - Photo by marc phillips on Unsplash

Top 5 Outdoor Adventures in: Canyonlands National Park

1. Hiking the Trails:

Canyonlands offers a variety of hiking trails that lead to some of the park's most iconic viewpoints and attractions. The Mesa Arch Trail is a short but rewarding hike that offers stunning views of the sunrise over the canyon. For a more challenging trek, consider the Syncline Loop Trail or the challenging Chesler Park Loop, both of which offer opportunities to explore the park's remote backcountry and encounter unique geological formations.

2. Scenic Drives & Overlooks:

Explore the park's diverse landscapes from the comfort of your car by taking a scenic drive along one of Canyonlands' scenic roads. The Island in the Sky Scenic Drive offers panoramic views of the park's expansive canyons and mesas, while the White Rim Road provides access to some of the park's most remote and rugged terrain. Don't miss the Shafer Canyon Overlook and the Grand View Point Overlook for some of the best views in the park.

3. Rafting the Rivers:

Experience the thrill of whitewater rafting on the Colorado and Green Rivers as they wind their way through the heart of Canyonlands. Join a guided rafting trip or rent your own kayak or canoe and paddle through the park's spectacular river canyons. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife such as bighorn sheep, river otters, and golden eagles as you navigate through this breathtaking landscape.

4. Mountain Biking:

Canyonlands is a paradise for mountain bikers, with miles of rugged trails that traverse the park's diverse terrain. The White Rim Trail is a popular multi-day mountain biking route that offers unparalleled views of the park's canyons and mesas. For a shorter ride, consider the Intrepid Trail System or the Slickrock Bike Trail, both of which offer challenging terrain and stunning scenery.

5. Stargazing:

Escape the glow of city lights and marvel at the brilliance of the night sky above Canyonlands. Join a ranger-led astronomy program or simply find a quiet spot away from the crowds to gaze in awe at the countless stars overhead. On clear nights, you can see the Milky Way stretching across the sky, as well as planets, constellations, and even the occasional meteor shower.

In Canyonlands National Park , some of the top attractions that draw visitors from around the world include:

Choosing just four must-see attractions in Canyonlands National Park is a challenge, given the park's vast size and diverse landscapes. However, here are four iconic attractions that should not be missed:

1. Island in the Sky:
One of the most accessible districts in Canyonlands, Island in the Sky offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding canyons, mesas, and buttes. Visit Grand View Point Overlook for sweeping vistas of the White Rim and Colorado River below, or hike along the Mesa Arch Trail for stunning sunrise or sunset views framed by the natural arch.

2. The Needles:
Named for its towering rock spires and colorful rock formations, The Needles district is a paradise for hikers and rock climbers. Don't miss the Chesler Park Loop Trail, which winds through a surreal landscape of sandstone spires and rock formations, or the Joint Trail, where you can explore narrow slot canyons and hidden alcoves.

3. Mesa Arch:
Located in the Island in the Sky district, Mesa Arch is one of the most photographed landmarks in Canyonlands. A short, easy hike leads to this natural arch, which frames stunning views of the canyonlands below, particularly during sunrise when the rocks glow with fiery hues.

4. The Maze:
For those seeking true wilderness adventure, The Maze district offers rugged terrain and remote backcountry experiences. Accessible only by 4x4 vehicles or multi-day backpacking trips, The Maze is a labyrinth of canyons, hoodoos, and sandstone fins, providing unparalleled solitude and stunning vistas for intrepid explorers.

Some Real Wooden Style for Your Trip

We are working on more branded merch to accompany your trip. In the meantime, here is a pair of real wooden shades for some excellent style while you hike the back-country of Canyonlands National Park .

6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)
6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)

6 oz. Wooden Hip Flask (US National Park Collection in Mahogany)

$35.00
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How to Get To Canyonlands National Park

To get to Canyonlands National Park, you'll typically start your journey from one of the nearby gateway towns in southeastern Utah, such as Moab or Monticello. Here are the general directions:

1. By Car: If you're traveling by car, the main entrance to Canyonlands is located about 30 miles (48 kilometers) southwest of Moab. From Moab, take US-191 south for approximately 10 miles, then turn right onto Utah Highway 313. Follow Highway 313 for about 22 miles until you reach the entrance to Canyonlands National Park.

2. By Air: The closest major airport to Canyonlands is Grand Junction Regional Airport (GJT) in Grand Junction, Colorado, located about 110 miles (177 kilometers) northeast of the park. From Grand Junction, you can rent a car and drive southwest on I-70 and US-191 to reach Moab, then follow the directions mentioned above.

3. By Public Transportation: While there is no direct public transportation to Canyonlands National Park, you may be able to find shuttle services or guided tours from nearby towns like Moab. These services typically offer transportation to and from the park's main attractions, such as Island in the Sky and The Needles districts.

Once you arrive at Canyonlands National Park, be sure to check visitor center hours and road conditions, as they may vary depending on the season. Additionally, consider obtaining a park map and speaking with park rangers for recommendations on hiking trails, scenic viewpoints, and other points of interest based on your interests and experience level.

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History and Creation of Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park, located in southeastern Utah, is renowned for its stunning landscapes characterized by deep canyons, towering mesas, and rugged rock formations. The park's history and creation are deeply intertwined with the geological forces that shaped its unique terrain over millions of years.

The story of Canyonlands begins over 300 million years ago, during the late Paleozoic era, when ancient seas covered much of the region. Over time, sedimentation and erosion sculpted the landscape, forming layers of sedimentary rock that would later be exposed and shaped by tectonic activity and the forces of wind and water.

The ancestral Puebloans, also known as the Ancestral Puebloans or Anasazi, were among the first inhabitants of the Canyonlands region. These Native American tribes lived in the area for thousands of years, leaving behind a rich legacy of rock art, dwellings, and artifacts that offer glimpses into their complex culture and way of life.

European exploration of the Canyonlands area began in the 19th century, with expeditions led by Spanish explorers, fur trappers, and Mormon pioneers. However, it wasn't until the early 20th century that the region gained widespread attention from conservationists and outdoor enthusiasts.

In 1964, Canyonlands National Park was established by Congress, preserving over 337,000 acres of rugged wilderness and scenic beauty. The park's creation was part of a larger effort to protect and preserve the natural and cultural heritage of the American West, ensuring that future generations could enjoy and appreciate its unparalleled landscapes.

Today, Canyonlands National Park attracts visitors from around the world who come to marvel at its breathtaking vistas, explore its labyrinthine canyons, and immerse themselves in the beauty of the desert landscape. Whether hiking along scenic trails, whitewater rafting on the Colorado River, or simply taking in the sunset from one of the park's iconic overlooks, Canyonlands offers endless opportunities for adventure and discovery amidst some of the most spectacular scenery on Earth.

/Fin. Canyonlands National Park

In conclusion, Canyonlands National Park stands as a testament to the incredible power of geological forces and the enduring spirit of exploration. From its towering mesas and deep canyons to its ancient rock formations and rich cultural history, Canyonlands captivates visitors with its awe-inspiring beauty and boundless opportunities for adventure. Whether hiking to remote overlooks, rafting through the winding canyons of the Colorado River, or simply taking in the vastness of the desert landscape, every moment spent in Canyonlands is a reminder of the remarkable diversity and resilience of the natural world. As you bid farewell to this desert wilderness, may the memories of your time here inspire a deeper appreciation for the wonders of our planet and a commitment to preserving them for future generations to enjoy.

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Canyonlands National Park - Photo by Explore with Joshua on Unsplash

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Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

About the Author

Jaimeleigh Christian

Jaimeleigh Christian

Jaime is passionate about the outdoors and traveling throughout these gorgeous United States. Especially National Parks in the Pacific Northwest. 

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Travel

Outdoor Adventure Series

National Parks

Tour Guide

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