Not only is Canyonlands National Park a beautiful ending destination, but the drive from Moab into Canyonlands is breathtaking experience all on its own.
Utah Skies <3
The entire trip there is full of red, commanding rocks and we felt like we never left a National Park. We actually visited Canyonlands for a brief period of time the night before our expected visit. We had some extra time after our hikes at Arches, so we decided to drive to Canyonlands and watch the sunset. We made it just in time to see the sun go down at the Green River Overlook. We definitely recommend this spot to enjoy watching the sun dip below the horizon.
A Canyonlands Sunset
When we came back the next day, we spent time in the visitor center and grabbed a map. We wanted to be sure to experience the most hikes and views as possible, since we were only spending a half day before our journey to Capitol Reef. As a heads up, Canyonlands has 3 completely separate districts that can be visited. The first is Island in the Sky (where we spent our time), second is The Needles, which is great for hiking, and the third is The Maze. The Maze is noted for having amazing, remote hiking trips that mostly require backpacking and therefore a permit. Be sure to check out the National Parks website before visiting, if backpacking overnight is in your itinerary.
Can't Get Enough Of These Night Skies
We decided to start our morning on the trail to Mesa Arch. Spoiler - this was one of our favorites spots of the entire trip. The hike was relatively short and easy, and the ending was amazing. Even though we had spent the previous day looking at arches, we still weren’t tired of observing these nature-made beauties. Mesa Arch is an absolute MUST-see during a visit to Canyonlands. You have the opportunity to be closer to the arch and the view on the other side is breathtaking. There is a lot of room to walk around and gather pictures. We were able to get some of our favorite photographs here, including the one below, which is now hanging in a frame in our living room.
One Of Our Favorite Shots From The Entire Trip!
After the very pleasant surprise of Mesa Arch, we made our way to another area called Upheaval Dome. This hike was only a mile round trip, however, pretty steep. The ending brings you to the ledge of a dome where we sat for awhile and enjoyed the view and sunshine. One of my favorite parts about this spot was the two different theories for how the area was created. The two theories are Salt Dome Theory or Impact Crater Theory. Salt Dome Theory is the concept of a thick layer of salt below the rock layers floating up to create a salt bubble, deforming the rocks on the surface. While interesting, in my opinion, the Impact Crater Theory was even more fascinating. As the name suggests, this theory says that millions of years ago, a meteorite hit in the area that is now Upheaval Dome. The size of this meteorite would have been approximately one-third of a mile wide, which is just CRAZY to think about. While there are still debates on which theory fits best, there have been recent discoveries that the Impact Crater Theory is more plausible.
One of our last stops in Canyonlands was Grandview Point. The views here are amazing, however not completely unlike other views throughout the park. We planned on completing the two mile hike before leaving for Capitol Reef. However, once we arrived at Grandview Point, we noticed the two mile hike is simply walking along the canyon edge. While this would be an easy and beautiful walk, we felt we gained the breathtaking experience within a few steps along the edge, and decided to gain some time back for future portions of the trip.
However, as we were deciding to leave, we made one last stop at Buck Canyon Overlook. This was the best decision and one of our favorite views of the pack. It really gives you that "Canyonlands" feeling!
FIRE UP CHIPS!
Canyonlands National Park had some amazing views and is a must see, especially when considering what a short drive away Arches National Park is. It would be easy to make a weekend trip and see both beautiful parks. If you are still in need of an adventure after Canyonlands however, you can complete the two hour drive to Capitol Reef National Park.