Canyonlands National Park Hikes

Discover the Best Hikes in Canyonlands

Canyonlands National Park, Utah's largest national park, is a treasure trove of natural wonders carved by the Colorado and Green Rivers. Split into three distinct regions—The Needles, Island in the Sky, and The Maze—it offers a variety of stunning hikes, featuring everything from deep canyons and towering mesas to delicate arches and vast plateaus. Often less crowded than nearby Arches National Park, Canyonlands is a serene playground for both seasoned hikers and those seeking leisurely walks with breathtaking views. Join us in exploring some of the best hikes in Canyonlands, where every path leads to discovery and every vista inspires awe.

The Needles District Hikes

Situated just 45 minutes from ULUM Moab, the Needles District captivates with its landscape of vivid sandstone spires, expansive canyons, natural arches, and high cliffs. This area is a paradise for off-road enthusiasts, with challenging jeep trails that require a high-clearance 4X4 vehicle. Newspaper Rock, a Utah State Historic Monument adorned with ancient petroglyphs, is a must-see along the entrance road. Stop by The Needles Visitor Center to pick up maps and chat with a ranger before venturing into this spectacular, untamed area. Plan your visit with our guide to the Top Things to See and Do in The Needles District.


Distance: 11 miles loop

Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous

Average Time: 4-6 hours

Nestled in the heart of the Needles District, Chesler Park is a stunning expanse of desert grasslands surrounded by towering sandstone spires. The Chesler Park Loop takes you through ultra-scenic landscapes, including narrow slot canyons, joint trails, and expansive meadows. The trail's moderate to strenuous difficulty is well worth the effort for its unparalleled natural beauty and tranquility. Make sure you have a four-wheel-drive vehicle to reach the trailhead.


Distance: 11 miles round trip
Difficulty: Strenuous
Average Time: 5-7 hours

The hike to Druid Arch is a challenging yet rewarding journey. The trail takes hikers through Elephant Canyon, featuring diverse terrain including sandy washes, rocky climbs, and a few ladder-assisted ascents. The hike leads to the awe-inspiring Druid Arch, which towers majestically above the surrounding landscape, resembling the massive stone arches of ancient cathedrals. The physical demands of this hike are matched by its breathtaking rewards, making it a must-do for experienced hikers seeking the thrill of adventure and the beauty of untamed wilderness.

Island in the Sky District Hikes

Perched atop sheer sandstone cliffs more than 1,000 feet above the desert floor, Island in the Sky mesa offers unrivalled views of Canyonlands. The easily accessible entrance is less than an hour from ULUM Moab  and offers numerous viewpoints and trailheads along its scenic drive. Stop by the Visitor Center to familiarize yourself with the area, refill your water, grab a map, and explore the exhibits. Craft your itinerary with help from our guide to the Top Things to See and Do in the Island in the Sky District.


Distance: 0.5 miles round trip

Difficulty: Easy

Average Time: 30 minutes to 1 hour

A sunrise hike to Mesa Arch is an iconic experience, perfect for photographers and nature lovers alike. This short, accessible trail leads to a spectacular stone arch perched at the edge of a cliff, framing the vast canyonlands below. The early morning light illuminates the underside of the arch, creating a glowing spectacle that is truly magical. This hike offers a quick but memorable glimpse into the beauty of Canyonlands, making it one of the best hikes in Canyonlands for families and those seeking a less strenuous adventure.


Distance: 2 miles round trip

Difficulty: Moderate

Average Time: 1-2 hours

The Grand View Point Trail offers exactly what its name suggests: grand views. This relatively easy hike along the canyon rim takes you to one of the most spectacular overlooks in the park. From the endpoint, you can see White Rim Road, the Island in the Sky, and the meeting of the Colorado and Green Rivers. The trail is pretty level, making it accessible to most hikers, and offers panoramic views of the surrounding canyon country.


Distance: 1.8 miles round trip

Difficulty: Moderate

Average Time: 45 minutes

White Rim Overlook Trail is one of the best hikes in Canyonlands National Park, with a great payoff at the end! The views from Grand View Point and Buck Canyon Overlook are simply amazing, and White Rim Overlook combines these two views into one jaw-dropping destination. From the top, you get panoramic views of Monument Basin and Buck Canyon, two canyons carved by the Colorado River. This trail is best enjoyed in the late afternoon, when the sun is less intense and there’s more parking available at the trailhead.


Distance: 8.3 miles loop

Difficulty: Strenuous

Average Time: 5-7 hours

Syncline Loop offers an exciting and strenuous adventure around the Upheaval Dome, a mysterious geological feature. This trail is not for the faint-hearted, with steep descents, rocky scrambles, and some route-finding challenges. However, the rewards include intimate canyon views, unique rock formations, and the chance to experience the park's backcountry solitude, making it a premier hike. It's a physical and mental challenge that ranks among the top hikes in Canyonlands for experienced hikers.


Distance: 3.6 miles round trip
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Average Time: 2-3 hours

Murphy Point Trail presents an easier, yet no less rewarding, hiking option within the Island in the Sky District. This relatively flat trail culminates at a stunning overlook offering panoramic views of Murphy Basin, the Green River, and the distant La Sal Mountains. Perfect for sunset viewings or a scenic picnic, the hike especially appeals to those seeking a serene experience without the technical challenges of more strenuous paths. The expansive vistas and the play of light on the canyons at golden hour make this trek one of the best hikes in Canyonlands.

Where to Stay Near Canyonlands National Park

Immerse yourself in the heart of red rock country with a stay at ULUM Moab , an unparalleled outdoor retreat offering upscale accommodations, a full-service restaurant, and outstanding amenities set against the breathtaking backdrop of Canyonlands. Open from March through October, ULUM Moab is a perfect home base for world-class adventures. Grab your hiking boots and pack your gear for an unforgettable journey through some of the most spectacular landscapes in the world.


Reserve Your Stay