Tuesday, November 2, 2021

The First Timer's Visit to Utah's 5 National Parks, Day 9 Finding the Magic in Canyonlands National Park

Day 9 Finding the Magic in Canyonlands National Park
Before you go watch the NPS park video.
Canyonlands Park Basic Information has up to date info on everything from hours, trails, map, and fees.
  • Since we were first timers we went to the most popular and accessible part of the park - Island in the Sky. I think Canyonlands is big enough to demand a return trip for some exploring in the other parts of the park: The Needles, The Maze and Horseshoe Canyon.
  • Allow 45 minutes travel time from Moab to Island in the Sky, Canyonlands
Drive to Mesa Arch in Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands for sunrise or as close to it as you can get.  This is a very popular spot because this is where the magic is.  Once sunrise is over people pack up and leave and it will be much quieter.  I hated all the people there.  We arrived an hour after sunrise and I took this image over the shoulder of a selfie-girl taking endless selfies at this prime location.  Sadly she wasn't even positioned to get this view! Don't be a spot hogger like selfie-girl.  

My favorite photo of the trip.*
Mesa Arch

Drive to the end of Grand View Point Rd to the Grandview Point Overlook. 15 min. Canyonlands in noa as crowded as Arches but there is also less parking.

End of trail to Upheaval Dome Lookout.*

Canyonlands National Park*

DRIVE Backtrack to White Rim Overlook 
  • HIKE 1.8 mi/1hr One of the best east-facing vistas is White Rim Overlook, which offers sweeping 300-degree views from the mid-point a 1.8-mile round trip hike. 
Drive back to Grand View Point Rd and continue north (turn right) to Buck Canyon Overlook
Continue N on Grand View Point Rd keeping left at the Y to Green River Overlook on the left.
Exit left from this overlook to Upheaval Dome Rd. Park at Upheaval Dome Trailhead. 
  • HIKE to crater views 1.8mi RT/1.25hr
  • HIKE Optional add ons/alternatives: Whale Rock panorama 1mi/30min hike and Aztec Butte to ancient granaries 2mi/1hr on Upheaval Dome Road.
Finish Canyonlands by returning toward the visitor center but stop at Shafer Overlook before exiting. 

From here we made our way to Salt Lake City to be ready for an early morning flight the next day. What I liked about flying out of SLC is the rental car return is connected directly to the airport terminals.  We kept the car and drove ourselves to the airport at 4:30 morning!  (We had an early flight.)   

HOTEL We stayed at a Holiday Inn Express Airport East, close to the airport. It was average. 
DINNER The hotel host recommended Lofte's Bar and Grille which was conveniently close but the food was just average. 

Most of the locations on this trip are also International Dark Sky Parks: Arches NP, Canyonlands NP, Capitol Reef NP, Dead Horse Point State Park, Goblin Valley State Park, Kodachrome Basin State Park, and Zion NP.  My trip also coincided with a full moon so I had to time photography before the moon came up. 

*I packed light.  My Canon 24-105L lens stopped communicating with my Canon 5D Mark IV so most of 
my photos were taken with a Sony Point and Shoot.  I was soooo disappointed. 
But lesson learned. 
Never pack light! 

Click any link below to go directly to that day:

NPS canyonlands-island-in-the-sky-map
U.S. National Park Service, restoration/cleanup by Matt Holly, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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