Moab Area Public Lands News web page

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Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National ParkCanyonlands National Park's red rock wilderness forms the heart of the Colorado Plateau. At its center are two great canyons, carved from thousands of feet of sedimentary rock by the Green River and Colorado River. The rivers divide the park into four districts: Island in the Sky, Needles, the Maze, and the rivers themselves.

While the districts share a primitive desert atmosphere, each retains its own character and offers different opportunities for exploration and encounters with natural and cultural history. The four districts are not directly linked by any roads, so travel between them requires two to six hours by car.

Island in the Sky

The Island in the Sky mesa sits high atop sheer sandstone cliffs soaring more than 1,000 feet above the surrounding terrain. This Island in the Sky is bounded far below its rim by the Colorado River on the east and the Green River to the west.

The Island in the Sky is the easiest district to visit in a short period of time, offering many pullouts with spectacular views along the paved scenic drive. Hiking trails and four-wheel-drive roads access backcountry areas for day or overnight trips. Click to learn more about Island in the Sky.

The Needles District

Named for the red and white striped spires of Cedar Mesa Sandstone, the Needles District offers more of a backcountry experience, requiring some hiking or four-wheel driving to see the area's attractions.

The district’s extensive backcountry trail system provides many opportunities for biking, long day-hikes, and overnight trips. Foot trails and four-wheel-drive roads lead to such features as Tower Ruin, Confluence Overlook, Elephant Hill, Joint Trail, and Chesler Park. Click to learn more about the Needles District.

The Maze

The Maze is the wildest and least accessible district of Canyonlands National Park. Exploring here requires a greater degree of self-sufficiency because of the remote location, difficult roads, and primitive trails. Be fully prepared with supplies, water, and gear for self-rescue. If you really want to get away from it all, the Maze will grant your wish. Plan your visit carefully, please! Click to learn more about the Maze.

The Horseshoe Canyon unit contains some of the most significant rock art in North America. The Great Gallery, the best-known panel in Horseshoe Canyon, includes well-preserved, life-sized figures with intricate designs. Other impressive sights include spring wildflowers, sheer sandstone walls, and mature cottonwood groves along the intermittent stream in the canyon bottom. 

An interesting tidbit—the CNHA logo is based upon a pictograph in Horseshoe Canyon.

To learn more visit the Canyonlands National Park website.

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