Canyonlands National Park

Canyons, Buttes and Mesas

This National Park is an expanse of canyons carved by the Colorado and Green Rivers. Also sculpted into the colorful landscape are isolated hills known as buttes and flat-topped plateaus known as mesas. The park’s four districts, which include the rivers, the Island in The Sky, the Needles and the Maze, were collectively described by American author Edward Abbey as “the most weird, wonderful, magical place on earth.”

Scenic Drives, Both Serene and Extreme

A 2.5-hour drive from Gateway Canyons, the park offers scenic roads for both conventional vehicles and four wheeled drives. There are hundreds of miles of backcountry roads where a high clearance, low range 4×4 vehicle is mandatory. These trails range in difficulty from intermediate to extremely technical and are therefore accessible only to permitted and experienced off-roaders. For those with more conventional vehicles, Island in The Sky features a 34-mile scenic loop that accesses the Grand View Point and provides amazing views of the canyons and surrounding landscape. The Needles also has its own scenic route with pull outs, viewpoints and a visitor center.

Hiking, Biking and Boating

Other popular activities include bicycling, hiking, backpacking and boating. Staying overnight in the park’s backcountry requires a permit, which our concierge would be happy to help you acquire. Similarly, bicyclists on certain roads will need day use or overnight permits as will boaters who plan overnight trips. For more information regarding the park’s various permits, feel free to contact our concierge.

The Four Districts

Island in The Sky – A 1,000-foot-high mesa that overlooks the surrounding area. Island in The Sky is the most easily accessible district and boasts many spectacular views. 

The Needles – This district is named for its colorful sandstone spires that feature prominently. There are plenty of backcountry roads, challenging hiking trails and a visitor center. 

The Maze – This district is the most remote and difficult to access. Most visits to The Maze require at least two nights of backcountry camping while providing great rewards for experienced 4x4ers and backcountry hikers. 

The Rivers – The Colorado and Green Rivers are responsible for the park’s namesake canyons. The calm upstream waters are ideal for canoeing whereas the waterway below the meeting point of the two rivers provides world-class white-water rapids.