Canyonlands National Park in One Day

Taking in Canyonlands National Park in one day is tough, mostly because it’s difficult to choose what to see in the time you have. This single-day itinerary is a great place to start, and has suggestions for extending your stay by another day or two.

View across Canyonlands National Park
Photo © Adam Springer/iStock.


Begin your day at the Island in the Sky Visitor Center, which overlooks an 800-foot-deep natural amphitheater. After a six-mile drive south, you’ll find the trail for the easy walk to Mesa Arch, which rewards you with one of the most dramatic vistas in Utah: an arch on the edge of an 800-foot cliff.


For lunch, hit the picnic area at Grand View Point, another six miles south, for astonishing views over red-rock canyons. After lunch, take a longer hike from a trailhead near the visitors center on the Neck Springs Trail.


For dinner, the closest dining is in Moab, 32 miles east of the visitors center, where you can quench your thirst and hunger at Eddie McStiff’s.

Extending Your Stay

If you have the time, it’s worth spending another 1-2 days to better explore Canyonlands.

Head out from Moab to the Needles District for more scenic drives and hikes. Start by driving out to Big Spring Canyon Overlook and have a picnic lunch. Hike Cave Spring Trail, an easy loop that passes an old cowboy camp and some ancient rock art. Next, walk on a slickrock trail to Pothole Point. On your way into or out of Needles, don’t forget to stop at the Newspaper Rock Historical Monument.

Canyonlands National Park

Tim Hull

About the Author

A resident of Arizona for more than 40 years, Tim Hull has hiked its trails and driven its backroads from the deserts to the mountains to the wondrous depths of the Grand Canyon. As a news reporter and freelance writer for the past 20 years, Hull has written about the history, politics, environment and culture of Arizona and the Southwest for newspapers, magazines and websites. His family's roots in the state run deep, beginning in the 1870s when his maternal great-great-grandfather opened a doctor's office in Prescott, a mountain town in the state's central pinelands. In his spare time Hull travels the world with his wife and writes fiction. He is also the author of Moon Grand CanyonMoon Tucson, and Moon Southwest Road Trip.

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