Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands in Utah was our next national park on the grand circle. It has three districts: Island in the Sky in the North, The Needles in the Southeast, and The Maze in the West (which we didn’t visit as it is very remote and not as accessible).

Island in the Sky

First order of business: Going to the visitor centre and checking out our options and the highlights to visit.

Highlights of the Island in the Sky district: Grand View Point, Buck Canyon Overlook, Mesa Arch, Green River Overlook, Upheaval Dome

We then took the Scenic Drive through the park and walked the short trail (3.2 km) to the Grand View Point.

Grand View Point (1853m)

In the brochure of the park, we were informed that cairns (small rock piles) mark the route and that you shouldn’t build your own as they would mislead other hikers. On this trail you could clearly see, that these are official cairns though.

Cairns as signposts for the trail

On our way back through the park, we stopped at the Buck Canyon Overlook – which was my personal favorite viewpoint.

Buck Canyon Overlook (1902m)

We spent this and the following night at a free BLM campsite close to the national park.

Campground with a view
Our friendly neighbors on the campground

Next morning we wanted to do the Neck Spring Trail, but before we went to the trailhead, we checked out some other spots. The first on was the Mesa Arch.

Mesa Arch

View through the Mesa Arch

Next: Green River Overlook

Green River Overlook (1829m)

Then there was Upheaval Dome

Upheaval Dome

The Neck Spring trail is 9.3 km long and it took us a bit under 3 hours. It was not too hot, so it was a nice walk.

Here there were also small piles of stone – however I was not sure whether they were official or build by other tourists

Cairns as signposts or tourist pile of stone?

Fortunately, we could trust those piles and found our way back to the parking lot.

The Needles

We didn’t drive directly from the Island in the Sky district to The Needles, because we visited Arches National Park first as it was on the way. We will write about Arches NP in the next post. 

The Needles district got its name because the sandstone eroded here into spires.

After entering the Needles district, we stopped at the Wooden Shoe Arch.

Wooden Shoe Arch from the distance
A bit closer

We then did the short 1 km long Pothole Point trail.

Sandstone dimpled with potholes and view of The Needles from a distance
Marcel termed this rock “Die Theke” (the bar)

We then drove to the Elephant Hill, as here was the trailhead for the Chesler Park View Point trail, which is about 10 km long. You can also go the Chesler Park Loop which is 18 km. But we thought the View Point was good enough for the day. 

Marcel at the Chesler Park View Point
Skippy and Rocky at the Chesler Park View Point

At the end of the trail we overtook two men for the second time, one of whom said with a laugh that we are fast runners. I joked that we had an appointment and he added: “with a cold beer?” Good thinking! 😁 Shortly before we wanted to drive off, the same guy came to our van with two beer cans. He explained, that he and his friend developed the tradition to drink a beer when finishing a hike and also give other hikers a beer. They also got a beer from strangers after a hike once and they carried on with this afterwards. So next time we finish a hike, it is our turn to give other hikers a beer; in other words “pay it forward”. What a nice gesture!

Campground, Canyonlands National Park, Grand Circle, Hike, Island in the Sky, Rocky, Skippy, Utah
Capitol Reef National Park
Arches National Park

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