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Name: Canyonlands National Park
Year Established: 1964
Location: Southeastern Utah
Season: Open year-round, 24 hours a day. Each district has its own visitor center with operating hours that change with the season.
Cost: Motorcycles, bicycles and walk-ins $5; Vehicles $10
Accommodation: There are campsites inside the park and the nearby town of Moab has several hotels.
Brief Description: Canyonlands is composed of three districts carved out by the Green and Colorado Rivers and their tributaries. They are the Island in the Sky in the north, the Maze in the west and the Needles in the east. They are full of beautiful rock cut into mesas, buttes, spires, fins and arches. Island in the Sky is a large mesa wedged between the two rivers and it’s the ‘observation deck’ for the park. The Maze is America’s wildest and most remote area. Travelers to this area are treated to rock art, spring wildflowers, and solitude. A long hike or 4-wheel-drive trip is rewarded with amazing arches and spires in the Needles district. Tower Ruin, a structure built by the Puebloans, can also be seen in this district.
Personal Experience: Since we only had a small rental car and were staying in the nearby town of Moab, we only visited the Island in the Sky district. After making a stop at the visitor center to get a map and fill our water bottles we were on our way. Our first stop was the Mesa Arch. We enjoyed the view and took a risk by walking across the top of the arch.
Then we moved on to the Upheaval Dome. No one is quite sure how this dome was formed. There are two theories: the first theory is that it is a salt dome and the second theory is that it was caused by a meteor crashing into the earth. You’ll have to visit yourself to see which theory you think is correct!
From there we drove over to the Grand View Point Overlook and took in the views of the Maze and Needles districts in the distance. We could also see some of the vehicle paths winding through the canyon below.
Our first visit to Canyonlands was short but sweet. We’re hoping to do a hike through the Needles district for our next visit when we have more time!