The Best of Canyonlands in One Day

Taking in Canyonlands National Park in one day is tough, mostly because it’s difficult to choose what to see in the time you have. This single-day itinerary is a great place to start, and has suggestions for extending your stay by another day or two.

Morning

Begin your day at the Island in the Sky Visitor Center, which overlooks an 800-foot-deep natural amphitheater. After a six-mile drive south, you’ll find the trail for the easy walk to Mesa Arch, which rewards you with one of the most dramatic vistas in Utah: an arch on the edge of an 800-foot cliff.

Afternoon

For lunch, hit the picnic area at Grand View Point, another six miles south, for astonishing views over red-rock canyons. After lunch, take a longer hike from a trailhead near the visitors center on the Neck Springs Trail.

Evening

For dinner, the closest dining is in Moab, 32 miles east of the visitors center, where you can quench your thirst and hunger at Eddie McStiff’s.

Extending Your Stay

Newspaper Rock petroglyphs on dark stone in Utah's Canyonlands National Park.

Newspaper Rock in Canyonlands National Park. Photo © lenpri/123rf.

If you have the time, it’s worth spending another 1-2 days to better explore Canyonlands.

Head out from Moab to the Needles District for more scenic drives and hikes. Start by driving out to Big Spring Canyon Overlook and have a picnic lunch. Hike Cave Spring Trail, an easy loop that passes an old cowboy camp and some ancient rock art. Next, walk on a slickrock trail to Pothole Point. On your way into or out of Needles, don’t forget to stop at the Newspaper Rock Historical Monument.

Travel map of Canyonlands National Park in Utah

Canyonlands National Park


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Southwest Road Trip.