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10 Best Things To Do in Canyonlands National Park

Check our list of the 10 best things to do in Canyonlands National Park if you plan your visit to this park. Canyonlands National Park encloses 337,598 acres of colorful canyons, mesas, buttes, fins, arches, such as the famous Mesa Arch, and spires in the heart of southeast Utah’s high desert. Canyonlands is more remote than neighboring Arches National Park. It invites you to explore a wilderness of amazing formations carved by the Colorado River, the Green River, and their tributaries. Moreover, Park is divided by nature into four districts: Island in the Sky, The Needles, The Maze, and The Rivers. So, if you like hiking trails, wilderness, and deserts adventure, go to the Canyonlands. We give you all the tips about the best things to do in Canyonland National Park, the best hikes on the Island in the Sky district, great overlooks, and all the practical information before you go. Check our Travel & Photography Canyonlands National Park Guide.

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Mesa Arch Canyonlands National Park
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10 Best Things To Do in Canyonlands National Park – Introduction

We have visited Canyonlands National Park several times at different times of the year. We were enchanted by this park, so here we share our experiences on how best to prepare for your trip and visit this park. These tips will make it easier for you to plan your Canyonlands vacation. We also give you our list of the 10 best things to do in Canyonlands. Get inspired by this list and add to your Canyonlands itinerary those points that best suit your needs and interests.

Canyonlands National Park Weather

Southeastern Utah is part of the Colorado Plateau. So, it is a high desert region that experiences wide temperature fluctuations, sometimes over 40 degrees in a single day. Due to it, you need to be prepared for temperature differences. These areas share a primitive desert atmosphere. Below, we’ve compiled charts with the lowest and highest average temperatures in Canyonlands National Park. Moreover, we have also prepared the average precipitation for each month. So, before you pack & go to Canyonlands, check our list of essential things that you should take on a day hike. Above all, always check current conditions and the forecast before you go for a hike.

Best Time to Visit Canyonlands

What is the best time to visit Canyonlands National Park? The best temperature, and most popular seasons, are spring (April through May) and fall (mid-September through October), when daytime highs average 60º to 80ºF (15º to 26ºC), and lows average 30º to 50ºF (-1º to 10ºC). Summer temperatures often exceed 100ºF (37ºC), as a result making your hiking extremely difficult. So, if you plan a summer visit, check out our hiking tips. Winters are cold, with highs averaging 30º to 50ºF (-1º to 10ºC), and lows averaging 0º to 20ºF (-17º to -6ºC). Moreover, even small amounts of snow or ice can make hiking trails and roads impassable.

TRIP TIP: If you are planning a Utah road trip, check our detailed Utah Photography & Travel Guide, where you can find the most exciting & must-see places in Utah. If you plan Utah Mighty 5 Road Trip, check out our ready-to-go Utah National Parks Road Trip Itinerary!

Canyonlands National Park Facts

Canyonlands National Park Fun Facts

How to Get To Canyonlands National Park?

The closest town to the Canyonlands is Moab, Utah. Moab is also the best place to stay for a night.

The Park is accessible by air or car from Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, and Grand Junction. Furthermore, food and water are unavailable within the Park, so you must be prepared for your trip. Moreover, pets are not allowed in the Park.

Download a self-guided driving tour to Canyonlands

If you plan to visit Canyonlands National Park on your own, buy and download this fabulous Canyonlands National Park Self-Driving Tour. It’s an affordable and great solution to visit the park without a guide. Explore the sweeping canyons, deep valleys, and gigantic mesas of Canyonlands National Park with a self-guided audio-driving tour.

By car

There is no public transportation inside Canyonlands National Park, so if you need to rent a car, we highly recommend Alamo, which we often use. If you want to drive through White Rim Road or get to The Maze, you must have a 4×4 WD. Moreover, the best option is to combine exploring the Canyonlands National Park with the Arches National Park. Therefore, we describe everything about Arches in our separate article.

Guided tour to Canyonlands

Another option to reach the Canyonlands is a commercial guided tour. You will learn the most exciting facts and will see the best places in the Park. So, check out the best trips from Moab on Viator.com or getyourguide.com. But in this article, we provide you with step-by-step for visiting Canyonlands on your own.

Canyonlands National Park views

Directions to the Canyonlands National Park

Island in the Sky district, in the north of the Park, is the closest district to Moab, UT. It takes you about 40 – 45 minutes to get to Island in the Sky via UT 313. The Needles district is in the southeast corner of Canyonlands. The Needles is about an hour’s drive from Monticello, UT, via UT 211. The Maze district, in the west of the park, is the most remote and challenging. So, you must have a 4×4 to get there. You can reach The Maze via unpaved roads from UT 24.

Entrance Fee & Visitors Centers in Canyonland National Park

Private vehicle is $35 per week. But, if you plan to visit more than two parks, the best idea is to buy America the BeautifulNational Parks & Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass. It costs only $79.99 per year, and you have access to more than 2,000 National Parks and federal recreation sites in the United States. The pass is valid for 1 year from the month of purchase. It covers entrance for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle at per-vehicle fee areas or up to 4 adults at sites that charge per person (kids 15 & under get in free).

Visitors Centers in Canyonlands

Canyonlands National Park is open year-round, 24 hours a day.

The central Canyonlands Backcountry Office is located at park administrative offices south of Moab. Rangers can answer questions about backcountry travel and issue permits. The address is 2282 Resource Blvd, Moab.

The Island in the Sky Visitor Center address is Off UT 313, approximately 22 miles southwest US 191. The visitor center is open daily from early March through December and closed for Thanksgiving and Christmas (December 25). In January and February, the visitor center is only open Friday through Tuesday (closed Wednesday and Thursday).

The Needles Visitor Center is open from spring through fall. The address is: at the end of UT 211, approximately 35 miles west of US 191.


Canyonlands National Park Map

Canyonlands is a vast park made up of a few parts. Whether or not you need a detailed map certainly depends on your itinerary. If you plan a one or two-day visit to the park and want to see its most outstanding attractions, all you need is this application. This self-guided audio and GPS tour allows you to explore the vast wonders of Canyonlands with maximum flexibility. Just get in your car, install the tour guide app on your phone and get going. All audio plays automatically based on location. Most stops along the way have images to help you visualize what you can not see, such as snapshots from different centuries or interiors. Buy it here.

But if you plan to stay for several days in Canyonlands, want to undertake more challenging treks in the park, and reach less popular places and off-beaten paths, be sure to get this set of map. It contains all three of the Canyonlands National Park districts, with detailed maps allowing you to explore less touristic areas without telephone and internet coverage.

Canyonlands National ParkArches & CanyonlandsSunrise at Mesa Arch
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Canyonlands National Park Lodging

Where to stay in Canyonlands National Park? The closest town is Moab. The best idea is to connect visiting Canyonlands with Arches National Park. It is about a 40-45 minute drive from Moab to Canyonlands. Below are some of our suggestions that receive the highest reviews among guests. Moreover, we found the best options for hotels and RVs. Moab is the best place to stay for a night, so check Deals Finder below.


Best Moab Hotels

Moab, Utah, is home to Canyonlands National Parks, Arches National Park, and the Colorado River, so it’s the best idea to stay in this small charming town surrounded by stunning red rocks. However, it is one of the most popular destinations in the American Southwest, so book your accommodation in advance. After visiting Utah Parks, you will find lots of opportunities to relax in this photogenic town full of great restaurants, bars, souvenir shops, and art galleries. Below we put some suggestions for accommodation in Moab with the highest customer reviews.

Budget Hotels in Moab

Budget Hotels ($)
Bowen Motel features an outdoor swimming pool and free WiFi access. The air-conditioned rooms have satellite TV and a seating area.
Inca Inn Motel is located in the top-rated area in Moab and has an excellent location score of 8.8. It offers free Wi-Fi, a heated outdoor pool, and guest rooms with cable TV, a fridge, and a microwave.
Rustic Inn also has a great location. We like these decorated rooms with oak cabinets and a built-in desk. Rooms are air-conditioned, and equipped with free Wi-Fi access and a TV set. There is a kitchenette with utensils, kitchenware, and a microwave.

Mid-Range Hotels in Moab

Mid-Range Hotels ($$)
Best Western Plus Canyonlands Inn and Best Western Plus Greenwell Inn are our choices. We stayed in both. They are located in the heart of the city, well equipped, and have good value for money. We like these hotels and we highly recommend them.
The Gonzo Inn is located in Moab and provides free WiFi, express check-in and check-out, and concierge services. Featuring family rooms, this property also provides guests with an outdoor pool.

Luxury Hotels in Moab

Luxury Hotels ($$$)
Hoodoo Moab is a luxury hotel in the heart of Moab. It offers a swimming pool, restaurant, bar, and fitness center. The rooms are modern and well-equipped. It offers a variety of breakfasts as continental, full English, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and American.
Hyatt Place Moab provides accommodations with a restaurant, free private parking, a seasonal outdoor swimming pool, and a fitness center. Hyatt Place Moab offers 4-star accommodations with a hot tub and terrace.


RV Canyonlands Camping in the Moab area

Book campgrounds in the Moab area if you need facilities for your RV. They offer many conveniences, such as showers, running water, RV hook-ups, toilets, Wi-Fi, dump stations, and more. It’s good to reserve it in advance because this area of Utah is trendy. Lots of guests visit Canyonlands National Park and neighboring Arches National Park and stay in private campgrounds. So, below are some of our RV’s campground suggestions.

Canyonlands RV Resort & Campground offers WiFi, a swimming pool, breathtaking views, and incredible amenities.
O.K. RV Park & Canyonlands Stables is just outside of Moab but still close enough to enjoy the restaurants and shops in the town. It offers 70 sites with WiFi.
Spanish Trail RV Park has great reviews from the guests. It offers 81 sites with WiFi and other facilities. There is no tent allowed. After exploring the Arches National Park, you can relax in the pool.

Moab Valley RV Resort offers 69 sites with all amenities and WiFi. It has a dedicated tenting area, too. There is a heated pool and playground. You can also rent a cabin.
Archview RV Park & Campground offers 77 sites with WiFi and full hookups. It is also tent camping allowed. It offers restrooms and showers, laundry, and a swimming pool.
Kane Creek Campground and RV Park has a great location and offers sites for RV and for tents also. It is located 3 miles south of Moab between massive 600-foot red rock cliffs and the Colorado River.

Canyonlands National Park

BLM Campgrounds in Moab area

There are also the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) campgrounds on the public lands surrounding Moab, but they are popular and fill quickly daily. There are no reservations. Campsites are available on a first-come-first-served basis only. Many BLM campsites are suitable for RVs, although hookups are not available. You will find a full list of BLM in the Canyonlands area on discovermoab.com.

Canyonlands Camping inside the Canyonlands National Park

Island in the Sky (Willow Flat) Campground

Island in the Sky Campground (Willow Flat) has only 12 sites and is first come, first-served. So, it is not easy to get the site. The campground is open year-round. The camping fee is $15 per site. Sites fill quickly from spring through fall. There are toilets, picnic tables, and fire rings in the campground. There is no water at the campground. You can get drinking water outside the visitor center but only from spring through fall.

The Needles (Squaw Flat) Campground

The Needles Campground has only 26 individual sites, plus 3 group sites in different locations around The Needles district. The camping fee for an individual site is $20. You can reserve some individual places in spring and fall. At other times of the year, individual sites are first-come, first-served. You can also book group sites for nights between mid-March and mid-November.

Backcountry Camping in Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park has an extensive backcountry where you can enjoy backpacking, four-wheel driving, boating, or bicycling. But you should prepare for your backcountry hiking or backpacking trip in Canyonlands. You must have a permit for backpacking and overnight trips, so check the details on the NPS website.


10 Best Things To Do in Canyonlands National Park

Visit Three Canyonlands National Park Districts

If you like backcountry hiking trails and dirty off-road accessible by 4WD, Canyonlands is a Park for you. But, many hiking trails and roads will take you to remote locations in the Park. So, don’t forget the map, guide, and GPS watch for your adventure because there is no telephone coverage in Canyonlands. Below are some details about three districts of the Canyonlands National Park.

Visit Island in the Sky in Canyonlands

The best thing to do in Canyonlands is to visit the Island of the Sky. First of all, Island in the Sky is the most popular and accessible district of Canyonlands, with plenty of breathtaking overlooks along the paved scenic drive. Furthermore, you will see the best of the Park and several hiking trails there. Island in the Sky is the most accessible area of Canyonlands and is also the best choice if you have limited time for your visit. So, you can hike to Mesa Arch here or to Grand View Point. Moreover, there also is a moderate four-wheel-drive route called the White Rim Road. It is 100 miles long. You should prepare for this. You must have a day-use permit for all day trips on the White Rim. And you must have a permit for all overnight trips along the White Rim. There is no potable water along the White Rim. For more info, you can check on the NPS website.

How to get to Island in the Sky?

To get to Island in the Sky by car, you should drive 10 miles (16 km) north of Moab or 22 miles (35 km) south of I-70 on US 191. Then you must turn onto UT 313 and then drive southwest 22 miles (35 km).

PRO TIP: If you want to explore hiking trails in this part of the Park, take a detailed Island in the Sky district map.

Visit The Needles in Canyonlands

The Needles is more remote and offers more of a backcountry experience. Due to this, hiking trails in this area are strenuous, and the most important is to know that you must have four-wheel driving to see the Needles area’s attractions.

How to get to The Needles?

On US 191, you must drive 40 miles (60 km) south of Moab or 14 miles (22 km) north of Monticello. Then you have to take UT 211, roughly 35 miles (56 km) west. UT 211 ends in The Needles and is the only paved road leading in and out of the area.

PRO TIP: If you want to explore hiking trails in this part of the Canyonlands, take a detailed The Needles district map

Visit The Maze in Canyonlands

The Maze is the most remote area of the Canyonlands. So, it is only accessible by 4WD. Furthermore, you must have backcountry experience to explore this part of the Canyonlands. Finally, you must be prepared for self-sufficiency and have the proper equipment or gear for self-rescue.

How to get to The Maze?

To get to The Maze, you must have a 4WD. First, you must reach The Hans Flat Ranger Station, which is 2.5 hours from Green River, Utah. From I-70, you must take UT 24 south for 24 miles. A left-hand turn just beyond the turnoff to Goblin Valley State Park will take you along a two-wheel-drive dirt road 46 miles (76 km) southeast to the ranger station. But it is not the end. From the ranger station, the canyons of The Maze are another 3 to 6 hours by high-clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicle (more if traveling by foot). Another four-wheel-drive road leads into The Maze north from UT 95 near Hite Marina (driving time is 3+ hours to the park boundary).

PROTIP: If you want to explore hiking trails in this part of the Canyonlands, take a detailed The Maze district map.

Explore The Rivers in Canyonlands

The Colorado River and Green River flow through the Canyonlands, cutting it and forming two deep canyons. Moreover, both rivers are calm and ideal for canoes, kayaks, or rafting. However, the Rivers are not easy to get to. You need a guided trip. So, an organized tour is the best option to explore this part of the Canyonlands.

Colorado River Rafting Tour combines outdoor adventure, which takes you off-roading through Canyonlands National Park, followed by a guided rafting trip on the Colorado River. So, you see the best natural wonders of Canyonlands during this trip. The tour includes transportation by 4WD, whitewater rafting, river gear, and a buffet lunch by the riverside. You can book it here.

Maze District CanyonlandsNeedles District CanyonlandsIsland in the Sky District
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Stop at the Best Viewpoints in Canyonlands National Park

Below you can find our favorite and best overlooks in Canyonlands. If you have limited time for your visits, those overlooks are the best way to explore the Park. Besides, you have the chance to take great photos. From the parking lots, there is short and easy access to viewpoints.

Green River Overlook

Two rivers created breathtaking canyons of Canyonlands National Park. So, from this vista, you can admire canyons formed by the Green River. To get to the Green River Overlook, you must drive Upheaval Dome Road. The turn-off for Green River Overlook is located on Upheaval Dome Road, just past the junction with Grand View Point Road. There is a car park here and restrooms.

Canyonlands National Park

Buck Canyon Overlook

From this vista, you can see canyons created by the Colorado River. This overlook is located on Grand View Point Road. 

Grand View Point

Grand View Point is located at the very end of Grand View Point Road. It is a trendy spot because it might be challenging to find an empty parking space. Finally, from this overlook is the best view of the Island in the Sky. So, you can admire the deep canyon that was carved out by the Colorado River.

Shafer Canyon Viewpoint

This vista is located just past the Visitor Center. So, it offers views of switchbacks on Shafer Canyon Road.

Visitor Center Viewpoint

Visitor Center Viewpoint offers one of the best views of Island in the Sky and is located just across the street from the Visitor Center.

Our favorite maps:

Utah National Parks GuideUtah National Parks MapHiking Canyonlands & Arches
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Take the Best Hikes in Canyonlands National Park

Below you will find the best hikes in the Canyonlands National Park in the Island in the Sky district. Check our hiking tips, before you go for a hike. Furthermore, check our list of essential things that you should take on a day hike. Remember, that if you plan an overnight hike, you must have a permit.

Go for a Hike to Mesa Arch in Canyonlands

Difficulty: easy
Distance: 0.5 mi / 0.8 km round trip
Time: 30 min
Getting there: There is a car park located right on Grand View Point Road. From the Visitor Center, it is a 10-minute drive to get here (6 miles). But it might be a crowded place all day.

The best thing to do in Canyonlands National Park is to hike to Mesa Arch. It is the most famous place in Canyonlands. Moreover, it is the best spot for sunrise photography because of its unique lighting on the arch. So, therefore get ready for the crowds. A short and easy hike will lead you to a cliff-edge arch. But, if you are going for the sunrise photos, watch your step. It is easy to slip on the rocks when it’s dark. So, take a headlamp and tripod with you for sunrise. However, you should know that Mesa Arch offers stunning views of the La Sal Mountains at any time of day.

Mesa Arch sunrise

Go for a Hike to White Rim Overlook in Canyonlands

Difficulty: easy
Distance: 1.8 mi / 2.8 km round trip
Time: 1.5 hrs
Getting there: There is limited trailhead parking. As you travel south on Grand View Point Road, there will be a left turn for a picnic area. Turn here and then park at one of the limited parking spaces near the trailhead. This turnoff is located 0.9 miles north of the Grand View Point parking lot.

White Rim Overlook offers views of the Colorado River, Monument Basin, and the La Sal Mountains. The best light for photos is in the late afternoon. It’s a short and easy hike, offering one of the best panoramic views of the Canyonlands.

Go for a Hike to Grand View Point in Canyonlands

Difficulty: easy
Distance: 2.0 mi / 3.2 km round trip
Time: 1.5 – 2.0 hrs
Getting There: The trailhead is located at Grand View Point.

It is a stunning hike on the canyon’s edge. This easy trail offers spectacular panoramic views of Canyonlands.

Go for a Hike to Upheaval Dome in Canyonlands

Difficulty: moderate
Distance: 1.0 mi / 1.6 km round trip to first overlook
Time: 30 min
Elevation change: 100 feet / 30m
Getting There: The parking lot is at the end of Upheaval Dome Road.

It is a concise but steep trail. Above all, watch your step. It leads you to a view of Upheaval Dome. To the first overlook, it is a 100-foot elevation change. Hiking to the second overlook adds 1 mile (1.6 km) and 50 feet (15 m) elevation change.

Go for a Hike to Whale Rock in Canyonlands

Difficulty: moderate
Distance: 1.0 mi / 1.6 km round trip
Time: 1 hour
Elevation change: 100 feet / 30m
Getting There: The parking lot is located just before the parking lot for Upheaval Dome.

This trail will lead you up the side of a sandstone dome. It ends with broad views of Island in the Sky. Above all, watch your step, because of steep drop-offs.

Go for a Hike to Aztec Butte in Canyonlands

Difficulty: moderate
Distance: 2.0 mi / 3.2 km round trip
Time: 1.5 hours
Elevation change: 225 feet / 68 m
Getting There: The parking lot is located on Upheaval Dome Road.

This hike offers to see archeological sites of ancestral Puebloan structures. The trail follows a sandy wash, then splits. The eastern fork to your right ascends Aztec Butte for spectacular views. The western fork on the left climbs the smaller butte then drops below the rim to two ancestral Puebloan structures. Furthermore, both trails require scrambling up to slick rock and ledges, so be careful.


Take one of the Canyonlands National Park Tours

First of all, it is a great idea to consider an organized trip through the Canyonlands because some parts are remote. With a guide, you will learn the secrets of the Canyonlands National Park, discover the hidden side of the Canyonlands, and reach more remote districts. Moreover, you must take organized trips if you want to see The River district from the river level. If you don’t have a 4WD car and off-road experience, you will not know The Maze district, The Needles, and it is impossible to take White Rim Road and get to more rugged places. Check commercial tours on getyourguide.com, and viator.com, which is a TripAdvisor.com Company. Below you will find some of our suggestions.

White Rim Trail by 4WD

White Rim Trail by 4WD it will be a great adventure. So, you can go off-roading by 4-wheel drive deep into Canyonlands National Park via the White Rim Road, a scenic route of switchbacks and red rock formations. Moreover, you will see the best spots, such as Island in the Sky, Gooseneck overlook, Musselman Arch, Lathrop Canyon, and the Shafer Trail leading to the Colorado River. You can take a hike with a guide to hidden passages and secret canyons too. You can check prices and availability here.

Airplane Tour

If you dream about flying over desert canyons, you have the chance to see two national parks from above during one flight. This scenic air tour above Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park gives you breathtaking views and great memories. You can check prices and customer reviews here.

Needles District by 4WD

Needles District by 4×4 is a great option to see this remote part of Canyonlands. An expert guide will take you to see the highlights such as Elephant Hill, Devil’s Lane, and Devil’s Kitchen. You can also take a 3-mile (4.8-km) hike on the spectacularly scenic Joint Trail. You can book it here.

Rafting Trip

We mentioned the Colorado River Rafting Trip, which has excellent reviews. But you have several other river trips to choose from. If you like fun & adventure, you can try to Stand Up Paddleboarding or Whitewater Rafting from Moab.

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands Photography Tips

The Landscapes of Canyonlands National Park are breathtaking, so you can find lots of opportunities for taking great pictures. Vistas are weird, like from another planet, magical and enormous in scale.

Best sunrise spot in Canyonlands

Mesa Arch sunrise is the most famous photo from Canyonlands. One of the best things to do in Canyonlands is admire the sunrise. Moreover, sunrise is the most popular time to photograph Mesa Arch. The sunlight reflects off the mesa sandstone canyon walls and illuminates the arch above, so it is a magical moment.
Photographing Mesa Arch requires preparation. First, the most important thing is getting there about an hour before sunrise. Why? Because it is the most popular spot and might be crowded. Moreover, you also need time to find your composition. So, don’t forget the tripod and headlamp. Having a wide lens to make a panorama and zoom for these shots is a great idea. With zoom, you can focus on the detail of rock formations and the millions of years of erosion. Below you can check what gear we used in Canyonlands.

Best sunset spot in Canyonlands

The Green River Overlook is the best for sunset. You can shoot magnificent panoramas from this point, so a wide lens or standard zoom will be perfect. It is a beautiful vista of the Green River. No doubt, one of the best things to do in Canyonlands is admiring the sunset.

Using a circular polariser to reduce glare is a great idea, especially during the daytime.

Finally, take plenty of water and snacks. Check our list of essential things that you should take on a day hike, before you go. If you plan longer or more challenging hikes, please check our detailed Day Hiking Packing List.

More inspiration you will find in books:

Photographing Southern UtahPhotographing the SouthwestUtah's Greatest WondersOwyhee Canyonlands
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Gear for Canyonlands Photography

Below you will find photo gear that we used during our trips to Canyonlands National Park.

Tripod for photographing Canyonlands National Park is crucial if you want to take sunrise or sunset photos. We recommended a reliable and heavy tripod. We use these model of Sirui for years, and it's a high quality, and reliable tripod. Our second choice, the cheaper ones, is this model used by Agnes. It is also fantastic.
Take remote shutter release, too. A remote shutter release allows you to control the shutter through a remote control, which ensures you won’t have to touch your camera. As a result, you will eliminate any unwanted blur on your subject.
Chris uses Canon EOS R , it is very light and modern mirrorless camera.
Agnes loves Nikon D750, it is light camera with excellent quality sensor and very ergonomic.
So, in the case of Canon, we recommend EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM or EF 16-35mm f/2.8L or cheaper 17-40mm f/4L EF Ultra Wide Angle.
In Nikon system, it’s good to have Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED (which Agnes uses) or Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED VR.
Use the polarizer filter to reduce reflections on surfaces. Some filter may warm up your scene a little bit. So, we recommend Circular polarizing filter, ND grad filters (minimum Lee soft edge 0.9, Lee reverse ND grad and a holder) and full ND (Lee Big Stopper or Little Stopper).
Another important lens in photographing Canyonlands National Park is standard zoom lens or telephoto lens. The telephoto lens is perfect for focusing on rocks details. So in case of Nikon we use AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR lens. Standard zoom which Agnes uses is Nikkor 24-70 mm f/2.8
In Canon system our choice telephoto is Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens. Chris has been using it for years, and it works great in landscape and wildlife photography. As a standard zoom lens Chris uses Canon 24-70 mm f/2.8L
Protecting your camera from the sand and dust at desert Canyonlands is crucial. Using a camera backpack is a great idea for hiking too. Our favourites are Think Tank Backpacks.
Camera cleaning kit is also important to remove dust that will get on your lens at Canyonlands.
Don't forget memory cards for your trip. Purchase name brand memory cards. We use Lexar and SanDisk.
Canyonlands National Park


  1. I need to go back to Utah! We were so close to the Canyonlands but did not have time to visit. Ahhh bookmarking this for when we do go! I would especially like to watch the Mesa Arch sunrise <3

  2. Wow! What a super informative post! I did have a US trip planned for early next year and I was thinking of doing the canyons. I guess it’s not completely out of the question so I might still look into it and with all you info, makes it super easy! I’d love to do white water rafting. That is so much fun.

  3. This is quite an in depth article about Canyonlands National Park, which i found to be quite useful. And the fact that I Can combine it with Arches National Park as well, is like the cherry on top. Though i havent been to the States yet, but I have been fascinated with the National Parks in USA for the past few days, and it seems that everyday, i come across some unique sets of information that just fascinates me.

  4. Thank you so much for writing this complete guide to visiting Canyonlands National Park. The scenery is absolutely amazing, I have the feeling I am walking on the Moon or Mars. And it’s no wonder that there are archaeological sites with remnants from ancient civilizations. Is it possible to camp in the park – wild camping or camping in special campgrounds?

  5. We were so glad we visited Canyonlands on our Utah National Park tour.  We did not make it there as early as you so missed that amazing view of the sun through the arch!!!  Those rips in the earth were just stunning to see.  Definitely worry that we missed the White Rim trail.  Good to know we need a permit first.  We did a couple fo the shorter hikes.  But definitely want to go back for more.  There is more than enough to warrant several visits to Canyonlands.  

  6. Canyonlands looks worth visiting and thanks for all your tips and information about how to reach and what to do here. Good to know that the closest town to the Canyonlands is Moab in Utah. As there is no public transportation inside Canyonlands National Park, so I would love to rent a car and that too a 4×4 car. I would also love to combine my visit to Canyonlands National Park with the Arches National Park as per your suggestion.

  7. I did not know that you can combine this with the Arches national park. The place has always been appealing with all those natural formations. I would love to know more about The Maze – have never been heard of that one before. Thanks for all the tips that you have shared like the need for permits – makes planning easy. 

  8. Canyonland National Park looks like a fantastic place for hiking and camping. I had not yet the chance to visit it, but when I go I will follow your suggestions! Sunsets must be spectacular there!

  9. Wow. That seems like an amazing experience. My husband and I have been to Grand Canyon and went hot air ballooning over the desert in Arizona, but we really need to get back out west for some of these other amazing experiences.

  10. I have been to the Grand Canyon, but not any of the surrounding areas. This would be an amazing place to explore the different sights. You could really spend a lot of time checking out the different hikes and sights.

  11. We were so glad we got to enjoy Canyonlands National Park when we visited Utah. Even if we did not get to all areas of the park on our visit. We would definitely get a 4×4 vehicle to explore The Maze next time. But we were glad we visited Dead Horse State Park while we were there.

  12. I’ve been to Canyonlands a couple of times, but both times just for a short visit and late in the afternoon. You are right that Mesa Arch looked stunning at all times, although I still want to visit early in the morning for the sunrise. And spend more times, of course.

  13. Such an in-depth write-up on Canyonland NP. I prefer the spring season over fall. If I ever visit, I will prefer hiking and canyons suit me well. It is definitely a great place to visit for nature lovers.

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