I was able to spend a day in Canyonlands National Park near Moab UT recently (July 2016). Canyonlands is a massive National Park split into 3 main sections: Island in the Sky, the Needles, and the Maze. It would easily take a couple weeks to explore it all. With limited time, I decided to take in the Island in the Sky portion of the park.
Island in the Sky is amazingly beautiful and filled with those iconic views you think of when considering the Southwestern United States. Island in the Sky is a mesa overlooking 1000 foot drops in every direction surrounded by canyons and the Colorado and Green rivers. You can get a great overhead view of the Needles portion of the park on the other side of the Colorado river. Needles is full of colorful spires that reach into the sky beckoning you to come hike through. The Maze portion is far off and remote. The Maze is one of those places it takes a few days of backpacking to get to (no roads!).
When visiting Island in the Sky, make sure you leave your car and take the short hike to Mesa arch. It is gorgeous. I was able to catch it with the sun rising behind it. The trails over at Upheaval Dome and Whale Rock are a bit longer but also great hikes. Make sure you take in the overlooks at Grand Point and Green River. Both have those views where you just don’t want to blink in case you miss anything.
When leaving Island in the Sky, stop off a Dead Horse Point State Park near the entrance to Island in the Sky. It is an extra fee, but well worth it for the iconic view of the horseshoe curve in the Colorado River. The picture of me with my daughter linked to this post is actually from there. It looks more dangerous than it is! I promise.
A return trip here for hiking in the Needles section is definitely on the bucket list. I can’t wait to return.