by Alex Gugel , all rights reserved
The official newspaper of Canyonlands National Park (NP). Twelve pages of articles and visit recommendations. Includes maps of Island in the Sky and Needles. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).
Visitor Guide National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior Canyonlands Pull-out hiking guide inside! Millard Canyon Overlook NPS / VERONICA VERDIN A Lifetime of Exploration Awaits Canyonlands National Park preserves 337,598 acres of colorful canyons, mesas, buttes, fins, arches, and spires in the heart of southeast Utah’s high desert. Water and gravity have been the prime architects of this Horseshoe Canyon Green River land, sculpting layers of rock into the rugged landscape we see today. Island in the Sky Colorado River Canyonlands preserves that natural beauty and human history throughout its four districts, which are divided by the Green and Colorado rivers. Island in the Sky is closest to Moab and is the most visited district. The Needles is a farther drive, and is great for a day trip or backcountry hiking and backpacking. The Maze is the most remote and rugged district, requiring a four-wheel-drive, high-clearance vehicle, and more time. The Maze’s Horseshoe Canyon unit contains intriguing rock markings from tribal cultures. The Maze The Rivers separate the other three districts and offer world-class boating opportunities. The Needles While the districts share a primitive desert atmosphere, each retains its own character and offers different Cataract Canyon opportunities for exploration and adventure. Though they appear close on a map, there are no roads in the park that directly link the districts. Traveling between them requires two to six hours by car. Check inside this visitor guide for the best way to plan your visit to Canyonlands. Welcome to Canyonlands. Drink water. It’s easy to become dehydrated, even in cold temperatures. Drink at least 1 gallon (4 L) of water per day. You can get water year-round at The Needles and Island in the Sky visitor centers, and seasonally at The Needles Campground. Do not rely on cell service at Canyonlands. Much of the park is outside cell phone range. You may find service where the La Sal Mountains are visible, but availability will vary by provider. Respect nature. Leave plants, rocks, and artifacts where you see them. Do not feed or disturb animals. Find your way. Cairns (small rock piles) mark routes. Don’t build your own; they could mislead other hikers. If you get lost, stay where you are, and wait for rescue. Have a safe and enjoyable visit by remembering these rules and advisories. Walk on hard surfaces, watch your step. Stay on trails to protect fragile biological soil crusts and plant and animal habitat, and to reduce your risk of getting lost or falling. The sun is intense, and shade is rare. Avoid exertion during peak heat (>90°F /32°C). Protect yourself with sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat. Keep off the arches. It’s prohibited—and dangerous—to climb or walk on any arch in the park. Pets are not allowed on trails. Activities with pets are limited in the park. See page 2 for details on where you can bring your pet. Preserve natural darkness. Using artificial light sources to illuminate features for photography at night is prohibited. Leave the rocks as you see them. Graffiti—carving, scratching, chalking, or any type of marking—is illegal. Leave no trace. Leave drones at home. Launching, landing, or operating remotely piloted aircrafts (such as model airplanes, quadcopters, or drones) is prohibited. Do not use ATVs. It’s prohibited to use any type of ATV or OHV. There are many roads outside the park where you can use ATVs and OHVs. National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior Canyonlands Visitor Guide 2022, vol. 1 Published By Canyonlands Natural History Association (CNHA), a nonprofit organization that assists the National Park Service in its educational, interpretive, and scientific programs. For more information, see the back page. General Information i INFORMATION CENTERS Canyonlands National Park operates visitor centers year-round at Island in the Sky and Hans Flat (The Maze), and spring through fall at The Needles. Hours vary with the season. Many neighboring communities have information centers with knowledgeable staff, brochures, and maps. 7 WATER Canyonlands is in the high desert, and it is easy to become dehydrated, even in cold temperatures. Plan on drinking at least 1 gallon (4 L) of water per day. You can get water year-round at The Needles and Island in the Sky visitor centers and seasonally at The Needles Campground. Contact Us: 2282 Resource Blvd. Moab, UT 84532 phone 435-719-2313 email email@example.com website nps.gov/cany } E W FOOD, GAS, LODGING Follow @CanyonlandsNPS There is no food, gas, lodging, or other amenities at Canyonlands. Come prepared with adequate food, fuel, and water. These may be found in nearby towns—see next page for mileage. Join us to share your park experiences with us and our growing online community: twitter.com/CanyonlandsNPS instagram.com/CanyonlandsNPS The Needles Campground N P S / C H R I S W O N D E R LY − CAMPING youtube.com/CanyonlandsNPS Park Fees We charge fees for park entrance, camping, and permits. Eighty percent of your fees collected at Canyonlands return to the park to address needs in maintenance, infrastructure, resource management, and visitor services. Fees are subject to change. Entrance Fees Campgrounds at The Needles and Island in the Sky have toilets, picnic tables, and fire rings. The park has no hookups or dump stations. Maximum length is 28 feet in most sites. Individual sites at Island in the Sky are first-come, first-served. You can make reservations for group campsites and some individual sites at The Needles online at Recreation.gov, or you can call 877-444-6777 (toll free), 877-8336777 (TTY), or +1 518-885-3639 (international). There are also many campgrounds outside the park. ç BACKCOUNTRY PERMITS AND RESERVATIONS You must have a permit for all overnight trips in the backcountry. If you’re taking a four-wheel-drive, motorcycle, mountain bike, or e-bike day trip, you must have a day-use permit on Lavender Canyon, Horse Canyon/Peekaboo, White Rim, and Elephant Hill roads. Find more information on page 9. Single vehicle (per vehicle) $30 Motorcycle (per vehicle) = EMERGENCY $25 If you have an emergency: Pedestrian/Bicycle (per person) $15 Interagency Annual Pass $80 Southeast Utah Parks Pass $55 • Contact a park employee. • Go to a visitor center. If the building is closed, use the pay phones in front of the building to dial 911 (no coin needed). • If service is available, dial 911 on your cell phone. However, there are many areas without cell coverage in Canyonlands. Camping Fees (per night) Island in the Sky Campground Individual Sites $15 The Needles Campground Individual Sites $20 Needles Group Sites price depends on group size $70 to $225 WEATHER AND CLIMATE Canyonlands experiences wide temperature fluctuations, sometimes over 40 degrees in a single day. Summer temperatures often exceed 100°F (37°C). Late summer monsoons bring violent storms, which often cause flash floods. Severe lightning occurs here. Winters (November through March) are cold, with highs averaging 30° to 50°F (0° to 10°C), and lows averaging 0° to 20°F (-17° to -6°C). ô ACCESSIBILITY facebook.com/CanyonlandsNPS flickr.com/CanyonlandsNPS Ranger program at Grand View Point N P S " RANGER PROGRAMS At Island in the Sky and The Needles, people with mobility impairments can access visitor centers, toilets, and campgrounds. We hold campsites for people with disabilities at both campgrounds. Grand View Point, Green River, and Buck Canyon overlooks (Island in the Sky) and Wooden Shoe Arch Overlook (The Needles) are wheelchair accessible. Other points of interest may be accessible with some assistance. People with visual impairments can ask at a visitor center for largeprint, braille, and audio described editions of the park brochure. Movies at visitor centers are captioned for people who are deaf or have hearing loss. Service animals– Only dogs or horses trained to perform specific tasks for a person with a disability are allowed on trails and in the backcountry. Emotional support (“therapy”) animals are not considered service animals by the Americans with Disabilities Act. ` TRAVELING WITH PETS Activities with pets are limited at Canyonlands. Pets must be on a leash at all times when outside a vehicle. The desert can be deadly for pets left in cars. You should not leave pets in the car when temperatures are above 65°F (18°C), even with the windows open. You may have your pet with you: • at developed campgrounds in Island in the Sky and The Needles • along paved roads • in your vehicle on the Potash/Shafer Canyon road between Moab and Island in the Sky. You may not have your pet with you: • on any hiking trails or overlooks, even if carried • anywhere in the backcountry including rivers and roads, even if it’s in your vehicle. Rangers typically offer evening programs and overlook talks April through October as staffing allows. Check the visitor centers or website for up to date schedules. Programs are subject to change. Protect Your Park—Stay on Trails This land is every bit as fragile as it is beautiful. If you step off the trail, you can easily injure the soil's living surface. When biological soil crust is damaged, it can take decades to recover. Help protect park soils during your visit. Please walk on trails, rock, or in sandy washes (where water flows when it rains), and keep all vehicles and bikes on designated roads. Read more about soil crusts on page 9. NPS / NEAL HERBERT 2 Canyonlands Visitor Guide Island in the Sky 435-259-4712 go.nps.gov/isky The Island in the Sky mesa rests on sheer sandstone cliffs over 1,000 feet above the surrounding terrain. Each overlook offers a different perspective on the park's spectacular landscape. If you have a short period of time, Island in the Sky is the easiest district to visit. Many pullouts along the paved scenic drive offer spectacular views. Hiking trails and four-wheel-drive roads access backcountry areas for day or overnight trips. LEARN ABOUT THE PARK • DIRECTIONS On US 191, drive 10 miles (16 km) north of Moab or 22 miles (35 km) south of Interstate 70 (Crescent Junction), then take UT 313 southwest for 22 miles (35 km). Driving time from Moab is roughly 40 minutes to the visitor center, or 60 minutes to Grand View Point. • We may offer ranger programs at various times, spring through fall. Check at the visitor center or campground for locations, times, and topics. Learn about native plants and their uses on Mesa Arch Trail. Mesa Arch N P S FOR KIDS BASICS • • • • • The visitor center is open year-round. In January and February, the building is closed Wednesdays and Thursdays. You’ll find exhibits, book and map sales, backcountry permits, general information, and park rangers on duty. Drinking water is available year-round. You can watch the 15-minute orientation movie Wilderness of Rock at the visitor center. There are toilets at the visitor center, campground, Grand View Point, Green River Overlook, Mesa Arch, Upheaval Dome, and White Rim Overlook. The visitor center toilets are wheelchair accessible. The campground has 12 sites, first-come, first-served. No water. No hookups. Nightly fee is $15 per site. SCENIC DRIVE You can tour the entire mesa top via the 34-mile roundtrip scenic drive. If you’re looking for a written guide, you can purchase The Road Guide to Canyonlands - Island in the Sky District at the visitor center. You can also purchase or rent a self-guiding driving tour CD. Grand View Point, Green River Overlook, and Buck Canyon Overlook are accessible to wheelchairs. There are picnic areas at White Rim Overlook, Upheaval Dome, and the visitor center. Kids can ask for a junior ranger book at any visitor center. Families can also check out an Explorer Pack filled with activities and supplies to help you have fun in the park (free, one per family). For hiking, kids enjoy visiting Mesa Arch and climbing the back of the whale at Whale Rock. Use caution as there are unfenced overlooks and steep drop-offs on both of these trails. WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR DAY First, stop at the visitor center for current information on trails, roads, ranger programs, weather, or to watch the park movie. In 2 hours you can: Drive to Grand View Point or Green River Overlook. Hike to Mesa Arch. In 4 hours you can: Drive to Grand View Point, Green River Overlook, and Upheaval Dome. Hike the Grand View Point, Mesa Arch, and Upheaval Dome Overlook trails. In 8 hours you can: Visit every overlook. Hike several mesa top trails or one of the more strenuous trails descending to the White Rim. Enjoy lunch on the trail, or picnic at White Rim Overlook or Upheaval Dome picnic areas. Sunrise and Sunset: Visit Mesa Arch at dawn. Visit Green River Overlook or Grand View Point at dusk for incredible views of sunset over the canyons. Hike to the top of Aztec Butte or Whale Rock for a spectacular view of Island in the Sky and surrounding countryside. The Needles 435-259-4711 go.nps.gov/theneedles The Needles forms the southeast corner of Canyonlands and was named for the colorful spires of Cedar Mesa Sandstone that dominate the area. The district’s extensive trail system provides many opportunities for long day hikes and overnight trips. LEARN ABOUT THE PARK DIRECTIONS • On US 191, drive 40 miles (60 km) south of Moab or 14 miles (22 km) north of Monticello, then take UT 211 roughly 35 miles (56 km) west. Highway 211 ends in The Needles, and is the only paved road leading in and out of the area. • Take a self-guiding trail at Cave Spring, Pothole Point, Roadside Ruin, and Slickrock. In spring and fall, rangers may present campfire programs nightly at the campground. Check at the visitor center or campground for details. Chesler Park N P S / E M I LY O G D E N BASICS FOR KIDS • Kids can ask for a junior ranger book at any visitor center. Families can also check out a Discovery Pack filled with activities and supplies to help you have fun in the park (free, one per family). The Cave Spring and Pothole Point trails are both popular hikes with kids. • • • • The visitor center is open daily, spring through fall. The visitor center is closed in winter. You’ll find exhibits, book and map sales, general information, picnic area, and park rangers on duty. You can get drinking water year-round at the visitor center or spring through fall at the campground. You can watch the 15-minute orientation movie, Wilderness of Rock, at the visitor center. There are restrooms with running water at the visitor center and campground (wheelchair accessible). There are toilets at Elephant Hill. The campground has 26 sites available, some sites are available for reservation, and other sites are first-come, first-served. No hookups. Nightly fee is $20 per site. WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR DAY First, stop at the visitor center for current information on trails, roads, ranger programs, weather, or to watch the park movie. In 2 hours you can: Drive to Big Spring Canyon Overlook, and hike the Pothole Point trail along the way. Enjoy a picnic and view the Needles from the picnic area. SCENIC DRIVE The scenic drive continues 6.5 miles past the visitor center, ending at Big Spring Canyon Overlook. There are several pullouts for short hiking trails, viewpoints, and a picnic area. Graded gravel roads lead to Cave Spring and the Elephant Hill trailhead. Get some of the best views of The Needles on the graded Elephant Hill access road (about one mile from the pavement). In 4 hours you can: Explore the scenic drive and graded dirt roads. Hike the Cave Spring, Pothole Point, and Roadside Ruin trails, or the longer Slickrock trail. In 8 hours you can: After exploring the scenic drive, hike to Chesler Park Viewpoint or around the Big Spring–Squaw Canyon loop. Enjoy lunch on the trail. Sunrise and Sunset: Sunrise is spectacular from the campground area, especially along the short trail between loops A and B. Visit Pothole Point or Wooden Shoe Arch Overlook to watch the glow of sunset wash over The Needles. Canyonlands Visitor Guide 3 The Maze go.nps.gov/themaze The Maze is remote, and all roads are unpaved. You'll need a four-wheel-drive vehicle, more time, and a greater degree of self-sufficiency to visit The Maze. Your trip may take anywhere from three days to a week or more. The Rivers The Colorado and Green rivers wind through the heart of Canyonlands, cutting through layers of sandstone to form two deep canyons. The calm waters of these two rivers join at The Confluence. Below The Confluence, the combined rivers’ flow spills down Cataract Canyon with remarkable speed and power, creating a world-class stretch of white water. VISITOR SERVICES Hans Flat Ranger Station is open daily yearround. It has a small sales area with books and maps. There are no services, food, gas, or potable water sources in The Maze. These are located in Hanksville, 68 miles (109 km), or Green River, 86 miles (138 km). NPS / NEAL HERBERT HORSESHOE CANYON Horseshoe Canyon contains several intriguing pictograph panels, including “The Great Gallery,” which features remarkable life-sized figures and intricate designs. To visit every panel, plan on a strenuous roundtrip hike of seven miles. A trip to Horseshoe Canyon usually requires a full day. BACKCOUNTRY TRAVEL Trails in The Maze are primitive. Many canyons look alike and are difficult to identify without a topographic map. You must have a permit for all overnight trips. Backpackers stay in at-large zones. Backcountry vehicle campers and mountain bikers stay in designated sites and must provide their own toilet systems. go.nps.gov/horseshoecanyon QUESTIONS? M For the most up-to-date information Backcountry Roads You can take a flatwater trip down either of the rivers as far as The Confluence or NPS / NEAL HERBERT Spanish Bottom. There are no rapids above The Confluence in the park, making it an ideal trip for canoes, sea kayaks, and other calmwater boats. Below Spanish Bottom, Cataract Canyon contains 14 miles of rapids ranging in difficulty from Class II to V. This is a hazardous and isolated section of the Colorado River, and you should not attempt it unless you’re an experienced boater. There are no facilities or potable water sources along the rivers in Canyonlands. Your river trip must be self-sufficient, and you must carry a cleanable, reusable toilet system. PERMITS on road and trail conditions at The Maze, call Hans Flat Ranger Station 435-259-2652. (8 am - 4:30 pm) You must have a permit for all overnight and one-day river trips in Canyonlands. Get your permit online at go.nps.gov/canybackcountry. We do not restrict launch dates. Maximum group size is 40 people, though to preserve the wilderness character of the river we recommend limiting your group size to 16. For more boating information, visit go.nps.gov/canyrivers. D* There are hundreds of miles of four-wheel- If you plan to enjoy the park’s four-wheel-drive roads, please note: drive roads in Canyonlands, providing • Road and all Needles and Maze backcountry roads. All-wheel-drive or two-wheel-drive viewpoints in the park’s backcountry. These vehicles are not allowed since they are not equipped to drive on rough roads range in difficulty from intermediate slickrock, loose rocks, deep sand, and steep switchbacks. • go.nps.gov/canydriving You must have a high-clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicle (low range) on the White Rim access to various campsites, trailheads, and to extremely technical. Research your route go.nps.gov/canyrivers You must have a permit for all overnight trips in the backcountry, and for day-use trips on thoroughly before attempting. Check for White Rim, Elephant Hill, Lavender Canyon, and Horse Canyon/Peekaboo roads. current conditions at visitor centers. In spring and fall, demand for permits frequently exceeds the number available. If you plan to visit Canyonlands during peak season, especially to camp along the White Rim Road, you should make reservations well in advance. NPS / KIRSTEN KEARSE • All vehicles must remain on established roads and be registered and operated by a licensed driver. • ATVs, OHVs, and Utah State Type I / Type II vehicles are prohibited, even if registered. Motorcycles must be interstate highway legal. • You may take your pets with you on the Potash/Shafer Trail road between Moab and Island in the Sky, but you may not have your pet on the White Rim Road or any other unpaved road. Backcountry Roads Island in the Sky * D The White Rim Road loops around and below the Island in the Sky mesa top and provides views of the surrounding area. These 100-mile trips usually take two to three days by four-wheel-drive vehicle or three to four days by mountain bike. Overnight and day-use permits required. Elephant Hill * D One of the most technical four-wheel-drive roads in Utah. Steep grades, loose rock, stair-step drops, tight turns, and tricky backing. Past the hill, equally challenging roads lead to various features and BLM lands south of the park. No water at the campsites. There are vault toilets at all camping areas except New Bates Wilson. If you are camping at New Bates Wilson, you must bring your own toilet. Overnight and day-use permits required. Colorado Overlook * D Moderate road, can be sandy for mountain bikes. You can avoid the large rocks and stair-step drops in the last 1.5 miles by parking on the road and walking to the overlook. (Be sure to leave room for other vehicles to pass.) Outstanding views of the Colorado River canyon. Unprotected overlook; use caution. No vehicle camping. Horse Canyon / Peekaboo D Frequently impassable due to quicksand. Roads travel along canyon bottoms where deep sand, deep water, and quicksand are common. Too sandy for mountain bikes. There are campsites at Peekaboo with prehistoric rock markings and peckings nearby. You must have a portable toilet at Peekaboo campsite. You may not drive beyond Peekaboo in Salt Creek Canyon. Horse Canyon Road leads to several arches and Tower Ruin. We recommend traveling in pairs with winch capable, high clearance, four-wheel drive vehicles. Recovery costs are high. Overnight and day-use permits required. Lavender Canyon D Road follows a canyon bottom where deep sand, deep water, and quicksand are common. Too sandy for mountain bikes. There are major creek crossings with steep banks. You can view many arches and archeological sites from the road. No vehicle camping inside the park. Overnight and day-use permits required. White Rim Road The Needles The Maze Four-wheel-drive roads in The Maze are extremely difficult, present considerable risk of vehicle damage, and should not be attempted by inexperienced drivers. A high-clearance, low-range, four-wheel-drive vehicle is required for all Maze backcountry roads. (All-wheel-drive vehicles do not have the clearance or low gearing required.) Towing charges are very expensive; visitors in the backcountry with disabled vehicles can expect towing fees in excess of $2,000. To plan your Maze trip, ask for The Maze backcountry handout in a visitor center or visit go.nps.gov/themaze. 4 Canyonlands Visitor Guide National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior The Needles Hiking Guide N P S / J A CO B W . F R A N K The Needles offers over 60 miles of interconnecting trails, as challenging as they are rewarding. Many different itineraries are possible, but some of the more popular ones are listed below. Conditions are primitive. Most trails traverse a mixture of slickrock benches and sandy washes. Longer trails are especially rough and require negotiating steep passes with drop-offs, narrow spots, or ladders. Water in the backcountry is unreliable and scarce in some areas. Trails are marked with cairns (small rock piles). Do not disturb cairns or build new ones. Although strong hikers can hike most trails in a day, many trails form loops with other trails for longer trips. Net elevation change is generally several hundred feet or less, except for the Lower Red Lake Trail, which drops 1,400 feet to the Colorado River. Remember—help protect park soils during your visit. Please walk on trails, rock, or in sandy washes (where water flows when it rains). Trail Description Pothole Point NPS / NEAL HERBERT On the trail to Chesler Park N P S m - toilet at trailhead (no water) 7 - drinking water at trailhead (seasonal) Distance (roundtrip) Time Elevation Change Roadside Ruin 0.3 mi (0.5 km) 20 min 11 ft (3 m) A short trail leads to a storage structure built by Indigenous people. Cave Spring 0.6 mi (1 km) 45 min 67 ft (20 m) This short loop leads to a historic cowboy camp and prehistoric rock markings and peckings. You will climb two ladders to complete the route. Pothole Point 0.6 mi (1 km) 45 min 36 ft (11 m) Uneven slickrock leads to diverse pothole communities and views of The Needles. Trail follows cairns. Slickrock 2.4 mi (3.9 km) 1.5 hrs 73 ft (22 m) This trail features expansive 360-degree views. Geology guide available. Trail crosses uneven surfaces. Short Strenuous Chesler Park Viewpoint m 5.8 mi (9.3 km) 3 - 4 hrs 533 ft (162 m) This popular trail leads to a pass overlooking a scenic expanse of desert grasses and shrubs surrounded by sandstone spires. Big Spring Canyon m 7 7.5 mi (12 km) 3 - 4 hrs 478 ft (146 m) A great introduction to the landscape of The Needles, connecting two canyons for a loop across varied terrain. The route between the canyons climbs steep grades that are dangerous when wet and may make people with a fear of heights uncomfortable. m 7 8.7 mi (14 km) 4 - 6 hrs 404 ft (123 m) A wonderful loop hike with some difficult sections climbing between the two canyons. Riparian areas in both canyons attract birds and other wildlife. Route in Lost Canyon passes through dense vegetation and may be very wet. One ladder must be climbed. 11 mi (17.7 km) 5 - 6 hrs 309 ft (94 m) Unlike other Needles hikes, this trail traverses dry, open country along the northern edge of the geologic faults that shaped the Needles. Trail ends at a cliff overlooking the junction of the Green and Colorado rivers 1,000 (304 m) feet below. to Squaw Canyon Squaw Canyon to Lost Canyon Confluence Overlook Peekaboo m 7 10.8 mi (17.4 km) 5 - 6 hrs 429 ft (131 m) This trail crosses both Squaw and Lost canyons on its way to Salt Creek Canyon, passing along high slickrock benches with spectacular views. Steep slopes and nearby cliff edges make this a challenging route. Two ladders must be climbed. View prehistoric rock paintings at the end of the trail near Peekaboo camp. Big Spring Canyon 10.5 mi (16.9 km) 4 - 6 hrs to Elephant Canyon m 7 443 ft (135 m) This loop features extended hiking on slickrock benches and mesa tops overlooking canyons. Excellent views of sheer cliff walls and other rock formations. You will have to climb two ladders in the pass between the canyons. Druid Arch m 10.8 mi (17.4 km) 5 - 7 hrs 503 ft (153 m) This trail offers one of the most spectacular views in The Needles. It follows the first part of the Chesler Park trail, then branches off to travel along the bottom of Elephant Canyon through deep sand and loose rock. The last 0.25 mile at the upper end is steep with one ladder and some scrambling. Chesler Park Loop / Joint Trail m 10.7 mi (17.2 km) 5 - 7 hrs 615 ft (187 m) This trail provides many great panoramas of the Needles formations. The Joint Trail winds through deep, narrow fractures in the rock. Canyonlands Visitor Guide 5 National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior Island in the Sky Hiking Guide Several short trails explore the Island in the Sky mesa top with minimal elevation change. Moderate trails involve elevation, such as climbing a sandstone feature or descending partway into a canyon. Long trails begin on the mesa top and descend via switchbacks to the White Rim, or beyond to one of the rivers. These are considered strenuous, with an elevation change of 1,000-2,000 feet (304-609 m). They require negotiating steep slopes of loose rock as well as sections of deep sand. Trails are marked with cairns (small rock piles). Do not disturb existing cairns or build new ones. There are signs at trailheads and intersections. All trails leading below the mesa top are primitive and rough. There is no potable water along any of the hiking trails. You can get water at the visitor center spring through fall. Fort Bottom Ruin Aztec Butte NPS / RHODES SMART T NPS / NEAL HERBERT Grand View Point N P S Trail Distance (roundtrip) Time Elevation Description Change 0.6 mi (1 km) 30 min 56 ft (17 m) A short hike leads to a cliff-edge arch. Mesa Arch is a classic sunrise spot, and has stunning views towards the La Sal Mountains any time of day. White Rim Overlook m 1.8 mi (2.9 km) 1.5 hrs 159 ft (49 m) Walk to an east-facing overlook for views of the Colorado River, Monument Basin, and La Sal Mountains. Best in late afternoon. Very limited trailhead parking. Hikers may not park off pavement or in picnic area. m 1.8 mi (2.9 km) 1.5 hrs 73 ft (22 m) A stunning out-and-back trail, this walk showcases spectacular panoramic views as it follows the canyon edge. 3.4 mi (5.5 km) 2 hrs 142 ft (43 m) This longer hike leads past a historic corral on the mesa top. The trail ends with panoramic views of Candlestick Tower, the Green River, and the White Rim Road. m - toilet at trailhead (no water) Easy - Mesa Top Mesa Arch Grand View Point m Murphy Point Moderate - Mesa Top Upheaval Dome first overlook m 0.6 mi (1 km) 1 hr 115 ft (35 m) A short but steep trail leads to a clear view into Upheaval Dome. Exhibits at the end of the trail discuss this unique geologic feature. Upheaval Dome second overlook m 1.2 mi (1.9 km) 1.5 hrs 114 ft (35 m) This trail splits off from the first overlook trail, following cairns to more views of Upheaval Dome and Upheaval Canyon. Whale Rock 0.8 mi (1.3 km) 1 hr 141 ft (43 m) This trail leads up the side of a sandstone dome, ending with broad views of the Island in the Sky. Be careful: steep drop-offs. Aztec Butte 1.4 mi (2.3 km) 1.5 hrs 222 ft (68 m) The trail follows a sandy wash, then splits. The eastern fork to your right ascends Aztec Butte for spectacular views. The western fork on the left climbs the smaller butte then drops below the rim to two ancestral Puebloan granaries. Both trails require scrambling up slickrock and ledges. Entering, touching, or climbing on archeological sites is strictly prohibited. View structures from a distance to protect fragile walls. Neck Spring 5.6 mi (9 km) 3 - 4 hrs 418 ft (127 m) A walk back in time, this loop trail passes historic ranching features and two springs where cowboys watered cattle. With minor elevation changes, this trail is a great way to see some varied plant life. Strenuous - Mesa Top to White Rim Gooseberry m 4.6 mi (7.4 km) 4 - 6 hrs 1,529 ft (466 m) Island in the Sky's steepest trail rapidly descends 1,400 feet (427 m) to the White Rim bench. Rough switchbacks cross sheer cliffs and scree slopes. Step carefully, and don't forget to look up to take in the view. Syncline Loop m 8.1 mi (13 km) 5 - 7 hrs 1,516 ft (462 m) This challenging trail follows the canyons around Upheaval Dome and requires navigating steep switchbacks, climbing and scrambling through boulder fields, and a 1,300-foot (396 m) elevation change. Most park rescues occur on this trail. Carry a map, extra gallons of water, and a flashlight. Hike this trail clockwise for more afternoon shade. Murphy Loop 10.8 mi (17.4 km) 5 - 7 hrs 1,448 ft (441 m) A great full-day hike, this trail drops off the side of the mesa top for a 1,400-foot (427 m) elevation change. The trail offers vast views from the Murphy Hogback, then returns up a wash. Alcove Spring 11.2 mi (18 km) 6 - 7 hrs 1,45