Canyonlands in One Day
Canyonlands in One Day
Your day begins with a choice: Island in the Sky or Needles. If you want expansive vistas looking across southeast Utah's canyons, head for the Island, where you stand atop a giant mesa. If you want to drive and walk among the Canyonland's needles and buttes, Needles is your destination. If you have a second or third day in the area, consider contacting an outfitter to take you on a 4X4 adventure. Before venturing into the park, top off your gas tank, pack a picnic lunch, and stock up on plenty of water.
A Day in Island in the Sky
Make your first stop along the main park road at Shafer Canyon Overlook. A short walk takes you out on a finger of land with views of the canyon over both sides. From here you can see Shafer Trail hugging the wall below.
Drive next to Mesa Arch. Grab your camera and water bottle for the short hike out to the arch perched on the cliff's edge. After your hike, continue on the main park road to Grand View Point. Stroll along the edge of the rim, and see how many landmarks you can spot in the distance. Have your lunch at the Grand View Point picnic area. Afterward, turn back toward the visitor center but take a left on Upheaval Dome Road. Stop at Island in the Sky Campground so you can see the Green River from the nearby overlook.
Lastly, head to the Upheaval Dome parking lot to stretch your legs with a hike up to the first Upheaval Dome viewpoint. If you still have energy, time, and a little sense of adventure, continue to the second overlook.
A Day in Needles
If you can stay overnight as well, then begin today by setting up camp at one of the Needles' wonderful campgrounds. Then hit the Joint Trail, or any of the trails that begin from Squaw Flat campground, and spend the day hiking in the backcountry of the park. (Or, if you really want to cram a lot in, begin the morning with a brief but terrific little hike to Cave Springs before tackling a lengthier trail.) Sleep under more stars than you've seen in a long time.
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