After our thirty-mile drive over from Arches National Park to Canyonlands National Park, D and I grabbed our Subway sandwiches out of the cooler and walked out to the Green River View Overlook, which is about 6 miles from the entrance to the park. The overlook ended up being only a walking path with a barrier between you and the cliff, so we walked a little off to the right to one of the boulders that was alongside the barrier and sat down to eat our lunch. Looking out over the canyon was beautiful, and it was really neat to be able to see the Green River from where we were eating lunch.
View from Green River Overlook - Canyonlands National Park, Moab, Utah
We didn’t stay too long here because there was a hike that we were planning to make, so we finished up our lunch, and hopped back in the car, only to realize that we probably should have filled up the gas tank before leaving Moab. The closest gas station to Canyonlands was about 20 miles away, and with less than ¼ tank, we figured that it was probably not a good idea to drive the additional 25 miles to the other overlook as planned without having much gas in the tank.
This leads me to a point about Moab – I didn’t realize how far apart things were when I was doing research for the trip. While Arches National Park is about five miles from the center of Moab, Canyonlands is not. In fact, Canyonlands is actually divided in the middle by a canyon – go figure, right? So there are two different sections to the park. The one that we focused on was called Islands in the Sky, whereas the other one is called The Needles. The Needles section has more long and difficult hiking trails and biking paths, whereas the Islands in the Sky section is more driving and smaller hikes. When I was researching the parks, I didn’t realize that the two different sections of Canyonlands were separated by a canyon and therefore did not connect unless you were to travel by boat or raft on the Green River. And to my surprise, the entrance to Islands in the Sky and The Needles are over 100 miles apart! Unfortunately, this meant that we ended up having to choose one over the other and ended up visiting only Islands in the Sky since it was closer and we didn’t have very much time. When we go back in the future, which we plan to do, we will definitely be planning on spending almost all of our time in The Needles section.
Prairie land along the roadways in Canyonlands National Park, Moab, Utah
Ok, back to what I was saying before – we were running low on gas, and we didn’t think that putting the extra miles in would be worth it right then, especially since we were planning to come back the next morning before heading out of town. So, on our way out of the park, we stopped at the short hike that leads you over to the canyon on the East side of the park, where Mesa Arch is. When we got to the parking lot, we noticed that there were a lot of cars there, and when we got to the arch, there were tons of people there. We didn’t end up spending as much time here as we had wished to because of how many people were there, but it was really beautiful, and looking through the arch across the canyon was a very cool thing to see.
Me sitting under Mesa Arch - Canyonlands National Park, Moab, Utah
Canyon overlook from Mesa Arch - Canyonlands National Park, Moab, Utah
On our drive back to town to get gas, we decided to head back to the hotel to restock on water and snacks, and then head back into the park to check out some of the other areas that we hadn’t seen yet, and to watch the last sunset we would see in Moab.
Have any of you ever been to Canyonlands? What are your favorite parts, and which section did you like better, Islands in the Sky or The Needles? Any suggestions on good hikes in The Needles section for when we go back?