Hiking areas in Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands National Park, located near Moab, Utah and the Arches National Park, was designated as a National Park on September 12, 1964.
Canyons carved into the Colorado Plateau by the Colorado River and Green River partition the area into three major districts:
- Island in the Sky to the north
- The Needles to the south-east
- The Maze to the west
Apart from the three major districts there is also a small detached section to the west, the Horseshoe Canyon.
The Island in the Sky and Needles districts are accessible via paved roads from U.S. 191 which passes through Moab. The Maze is the most remote of the three districts and is only accessible from the west (Utah 24 or 95) via unpaved roads. There are no road connections between the districts within the park and travelling between them may take two to six hours by car.
Island in the Sky
Grand Viewpoint Overlook - Canyonlands National Park Sky District
Photo Copyright: Gerd Badur (GFDL)
Island in the Sky is a broad and level mesa to the north of the park between Colorado and Green river with many spectacular overlooks over the White Rim, a sandstone bench 1200 feet below the Island, and the rivers which are another 1000 feet below the White Rim.
The Needles district is named after the red and white banded rock pinnacles which dominate it but various other forms of naturally sculptured rock like canyons, grabens, potholes, and a number of arches similar to the ones of the nearby Arches National Park can be found as well. Unlike Arches National Park, however, where many arches are accessible by short to moderate hikes or even by car, most of the arches in the Needles district lie in backcountry canyons and take long hikes or four-wheel-drive trips to reach.
This area was once home of the Ancestral Puebloan Indians of which many traces can be found. Although the items and tools they used have been largely taken away by looters, many of their stone and mud dwellings are well-preserved. The Ancestral Puebloans also left traces in the form of petroglyphs, most notably on the so-called Newspaper Rock near the Visitor Center at the entrance of this district.
The Maze district west of the Colorado and Green rivers is the most remote and inaccessible section.