When you’re so close to two National Parks, you’ve gotta visit both, right?
That’s exactly what Mercedes did on our Arches trip! We had both said that if we could get another night in Arches, we were going to try and see Canyonlands for a day! Well, we were lucky enough to get another night, nestled in a little campsite bordering the Colorado River on Route 128, which is the Upper Colorado River Scenic Byway. It was a really cool spot!
We woke early and drove to Canyonlands, which wasn’t too far from where we were – the road to get to Canyonlands is long and windy at the beginning, You gain a fair bit of elevation in a short amount of time! We saw the Monitor and the Merrimac exhibit along the way in, which is a definite recommend if you’ve got the time! Finally, we entered the park after what seemed like the longest drive to get in…
One thing to note with Canyonlands: unlike some other National Parks like Yellowstone or Grand Tetons, there are two separate entrances to this park! We only went to The Island In The Sky district. There’s another entrance along the southern part of the park called The Needles district, and these two districts do not connect.. So, this blog only covers The Island In The Sky part of Canyonlands.
If you’ve been to the Grand Canyon, you may have seen something like this, but we were seriously blown away by the size and depth of this National Park! It’s quite an impressive feat of nature. It’s hard to compare the natural, raw beauty of this place to anywhere else I had been, except perhaps the Grand Canyon.
I liked this picture so much that I printed it on canvas and hung it in my room! It was absolutely gorgeous here. The sun wasn’t terribly hot, but definitely do not go in late July if you can help it! June through September are the hottest months to be in both Canyonlands and Arches. If you can go in early spring or late September or October, that’s ideal! It also usually gets more crowded, since favorable temperatures are more frequent.
We did a couple hikes that day, but nothing too long since it was so darn hot! After all, Canyonlands is only about 3 and a half hours from Salt Lake, so we could go back whenever we wanted! One of them, the Syncline Loop, led to this beautiful overlook, with the option to go longer if you wanted to! We opted not to do the actual loop since it was so hot, but the part we did leads to a quite beautiful viewpoint of this giant crater! It’s definitely worth the little hike to get there! Then, further at the end, the trail changes and suddenly you’re walking on gigantic rocks!
After this, we went and ate lunch by Whale Rock, which is also a pretty cool hike apparently! We didn’t want to do it, but we could see a number of people on top of the giant rock that resembled the namesake! We finished up and traversed the scenic road back to the one junction in The Island In The Sky district, where we turned right and headed down further.
We did one more hike, Murphy’s Point, which is a pretty east 3.2 mile hike. One thing to keep in mind – we didn’t see a single soul on the trail? Was that because it wasn’t cool? Nah, it was way cool. Was it because we did at perhaps 2pm or so? BINGO!! These photos were the views at the end. Man was this hike totally worth it! Maybe just not in July at 2pm on the sunniest day in the history of the world…
Finally, we were coming to the end of our day (and our trip, sadly), so we hit one more viewpoint to finish the day off. It was pretty stunning, honestly. The whole park is basically situated on top of one of these massive cliffs, so drops down are hundreds and hundreds of feet! It’s seriously so easy to find incredible views!
It was hard to leave.
Neither of us wanted to, but we had to return. That’s always the toughest part of any trip, isn’t it? The leaving. So, we headed back up to Salt Lake, sad and tired from the trip, but filled with so many new memories. Mercedes has continued to talk about Canyonlands as her favorite National Park, so you can expect a part two next year, for sure! We’ll definitely be back there.
Heck, even I want to go back.
That was the coolest place!