Morning light illuminates the underside of Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park.

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Canyonlands National Park

Southeastern Utah

Covering 527 sq miles, Canyonlands is Utah's largest and wildest park. Indeed, parts of it are as rugged as almost anywhere on the planet. Arches, bridges, needles, spires, craters, mesas, buttes – Canyonlands is a crumbling, decaying beauty, a vision of ancient earth. The park has four distinct districts separated by the Green and Colorado Rivers: Island in the Sky, The Needles, The Maze and Horseshoe Canyon, each must be visited independently as they are not linked by road.

Moab makes a good base for visiting the Island in the Sky and Needles sections.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Southeastern Utah attractions

1. Island in the Sky


You'll comprehend space in new ways atop the appropriately named Island in the Sky. This 6000ft-high flat-topped mesa drops precipitously on all sides,…

2. The Maze

11.49 MILES

A 30-sq-mile jumble of high-walled canyons, the Maze is a rare preserve of true wilderness for hardy backcountry veterans. The colorful canyons are rugged…

3. Dead Horse Point State Park

12.86 MILES

A tiny but stunning state park, Dead Horse Point has been the setting for numerous movies, including the opening scene from Mission Impossible II and the…

4. The Needles

13.16 MILES

Named for the spires of orange-and-white sandstone jutting skyward from the desert floor, the Needles District is so different from Island in the Sky that…

5. Canyon Rims Recreation Area

14.26 MILES

The BLM Canyon Rims Recreation Area to the east of Canyonlands National Park has two interesting overlooks, undeveloped hiking and backcountry driving…

6. Horseshoe Canyon

20.31 MILES

Way far west of Island in the Sky, Horseshoe Canyon shelters one of the most impressive collections of millennia-old rock art in the Southwest. The…

7. Hole 'n the Rock

22.21 MILES

An unabashed tourist trap 12 miles south of Moab, Hole ’n the Rock is a 5000-sq-ft home-cum-cave carved into sandstone and decorated in knockout 1950s…

8. Arches National Park

23.18 MILES

One of the Southwest's most gorgeous parks, Arches boasts the world's greatest concentration of sandstone arches. Just 5 miles north of Moab on Hwy 191,…