Canyonlands National Park is a U.S. National Park located in southeastern Utah near the town of Moab. It preserves a colorful landscape eroded into countless canyons, mesas, and buttes by the Colorado River, the Green River, and their respective tributaries. Legislation creating the park was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on September 12, 1964.
It is divided into three districts not connected by roads interior to the park: the Island in the Sky, the Needles, and the Maze (including Horseshoe Canyon). The Island in the Sky offers sweeping vistas over the lower two districts; the Needles and the Maze are more rugged, backcountry districts that offer excellent backcountry hikes and camping.
The Colorado River and Green River combine within the park, dividing it into four distinct districts. Below the confluence, the Colorado River flows through Cataract Canyon. The Island in the Sky district is a broad and level mesa to the north of the park between Colorado and Green river with many overlooks from the White Rim, a sandstone bench 1,200 feet below the Island, and the rivers, which are another 1,000 feet below the White Rim.
The Needles district is located east of the Colorado River and is named after the red and white banded rock pinnacles which dominate it, but various other forms of naturally sculptured rock such as canyons, grabens, potholes, and a number of arches similar to the ones of the nearby Arches National Park can be found as well.
Canyonlands is open year-round, 24 hours a day. Each district has its own visitor center with operating hours that change with the seasons.
Entrance fees are $5 for individuals on foot, bike or motorcycle, and $10 for private vehicles (fees are good for seven days). A Local Passport may be purchased for $25 and allows unlimited entry to Canyonlands National Park, Arches National Park, Hovenweep National Monument and Natural Bridges National Monument for one year.
Canyonlands Field Airport, from which Great Lakes Airlines provides daily commuter service to Denver, is located on US Route 191 just 25 kilometres north of downtown Moab.
Daily air tours to Canyonlands National Park in a Cessna aircraft are provided from the Canyonlands Field Airport in Moab. The aircraft seats about 7 people (including the pilot). The flights take you over all of the most scenic parts of Canyonlands including the Maze District, Island in the Sky, Dead Horse Point, the Colorado River and more. Typically flights last about 1-2 hours. Helicopter flights are also available as a tour-by-air option.
To reach the Island in the Sky district take US Highway 191 to Utah Highway 313 (16 kilometres north of Moab, or 35 kilometres south of I-70) and then drive southwest 35 kilometres. Driving time to the visitor center from Moab is roughly 40 minutes.
The Needles district can be reached by driving 60 kilometres south of Moab or 22 kilometres north of Monticello on US Highway 191, then take Utah Highway 211 roughly 56 kilometres west. Highway 211 ends in the Needles, and is the only paved road leading in and out of the district.
The Maze district is one of the most inaccessible areas in the continental United States. The outskirts of the Maze can be reached by driving two and one-half hours from Green River. From I-70, take Utah Highway 24 south for 38 kilometres. A left hand turn just beyond the turnoff to Goblin Valley State Park will take you along a two-wheel-drive dirt road 76 kilometres southeast to the ranger station. From the ranger station, the canyons of the Maze are another 3 to 6 hours by high-clearance, 4WD (more if traveling by foot). Another four-wheel-drive road leads into the Maze north from Highway 95 near Hite Marina (driving time is 3+ hours to the park boundary).
There is no food available within the park, so all supplies will need to be purchased in towns outside of the park.
Visitor centers sell bottled water and provide fountains. Within the park water supplies are limited, and any water that is found should be properly treated to prevent disease.
There is no lodging within the park, but numerous hotels can be found in the town of Moab, as well as in the towns of Hanksville, Green River, and Monticello.
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