Must-See Canyonlands Hiking Trails
From the bird’s eye vistas of the Island in the Sky to the strange and surreal landscape of the Needles District, there are seemingly endless amounts of Canyonlands hiking trails to choose from. Featuring some of the best hikes near Moab, a hiking trip to Canyonlands must be on your bucket list. Here’s a look at the best Canyonlands hiking trails.
Accessing Canyonlands National Park
There are three different ways to access Canyonlands National Park. The first is to Island in the Sky, located 30-minutes north of Moab. The Needles District entrance is an hour and a half south of Moab, while the Maze is about 2 hours south of Green River or 3 hours from Moab.
The different districts do not connect, so you’ll want to choose your Canyonlands hiking trails and plan accordingly. For example, you may want to spend a day hiking in Island in the Sky and then two days hiking in the Needles.
Do I Need Permits to Hike in Canyonlands?
No. All Canyonlands national park hikes do not require a permit. The only time you’ll need a permit to hike in Canyonlands National Park is if you plan to spend the night. You can reserve a permit for a specific backcountry campsite up to four months in advance.
Pro Tip: Overnight permits fill up quickly, especially for the Needles District, so plan accordingly.
The Best Canyonlands Hiking Trails
When it comes to Canyonlands hiking, there are ample choices for everyone from the novice hiker to the expert cross-country backpacker. Here are a few must-do hikes in Canyonlands.
- Mesa Arch Trail: 0.3 miles, easy, Island in the Sky
- Grand View Point: 1.8 miles, easy, Island in the Sky
- White Rim Overlook: 1.8 miles, easy, Island in the Sky
- Chesler Park Loop Trail: 10.4 miles, moderate, Needles
- Druid Arch Trail: 9.5 miles, moderate, Needles
- Squaw Flat and Big Spring Canyon Loop: 6.6 miles, moderate, Needles
- The Maze Overlook: 8 miles, moderate, Maze
- Syncline Loop: 8.6 miles, difficult, Island in the Sky
- Gooseberry Trail: 4.2 miles, difficult, Island in the Sky
- Horseshoe Canyon Trail: 7 miles, difficult, Maze
Tips for Hiking in Canyonlands
Before you hit the trails, it’s essential that you’re prepared for your Canyonlands hike. Here are a few quick tips to keep in mind while hiking in the desert:
- Bring ample water and salty snacks. The desert is hot, even temps in the mid-70s can feel like it’s above 100. With little protection against the sun and wind, you’ll be parched. Bring ample water and leave some in your car for a post-hike refuel. Balance water with salty snacks to replenish salts lost while sweating.
- Stay on the trail. Stay on all marked trails and don’t drive or wander off the trail. Erosion is a problem in the desert and areas can be closed because they are dangerous. Don’t bust the crust or the black cryptobiotic soil that grows in bubbles on the ground. This protects the fragile desert landscape and takes years to grow.
- Bring sun protection. A sunhat, sunscreen, sunglasses, and even a sun-shirt are must-have items while hiking in Canyonlands.
- Hike early or later in the evening. During the hot summer days, it’s nearly impossible to hike during the day. Avoid the heat by starting early.
- Check the weather. Hiking in canyons during rainy weather is extremely dangerous, so always check the weather prior to heading out.
- Bring a saline solution. The desert is a dry place, you may want a saline solution for your nose and eyes.
- Leave No Trace. Remember to leave it better than you found it. Pack out all trash including human waste (required in Canyonlands if you do not use a designated toilet), toilet paper, food wrappers, fruit peels, any trash. Keep a Ziploc baggie with a little bit of baking soda to get rid of the smell.
Now you’re ready to enjoy the best Canyonlands hiking trails. Plan your visit to Canyonlands and get up-close-and-personal with this magnificent landscape.