Canyonlands in One Day:
Why to go: Because you want to experience Grand Canyon, Bryce, Zion and Cedar Breaks but you don’t have time.
When to go: Spring and Fall before and after the big crowds hit.
Best tip: Check out the map below of Canyonlands, go to the end, and work your way back incorporating as much hiking as you feel like or have time for.
Good Eats: Sweet Cravings for breakfast.
Joyful Adventures Rating: 5 Hiking Boots! It’s officially one of our favorites!
Growing up in NJ I really didn’t know much about the great western part of the US. It seemed like a big trip to go to Pennsylvania from North Jersey. It felt like I was going to a new country to see all of the farmland. Little did I know there were even MORE vast and gorgeous lands out west to see and experience. Fast forward (cough cough 20 or so) a few years and I have been so lucky to “discover” these incredible places with Mr. M. Last week, we decided to camp at Canyonlands and do some exploring on our way up to the Colorado State graduation (Ari’s boyfriend graduated – yay!) . We were not disappointed. Both Mr. M and I think this is our new favorite place.
First, we drove up from Phoenix on Thursday after work. We JUST caught the sunset at Monument Valley (see our adventure there last year). Following Route 89 from Flagstaff to 160 to 163, the road takes you right through the heart of Monument Valley. That was a nice little bonus. After that, we kept going up 191 until it was so dark and the deer were prolific so we decided it was time to find a place to camp. We lucked out that we saw Devil’s Campground and found a perfect spot to stop for the night.
In the morning we discovered we were in a delightful woodsy campground with a lovely sunrise greeting us. For $10 a night, it was a great value. We drove onward up 191 to Moab for breakfast. We had both taken Friday off so we had a leisurely day to explore before continuing up to Colorado. In Moab we stopped at Sweet Cravings (you can see our review here on Yelp!), where we loaded up with a generous breakfast before a day of exploring.
Moab in itself is a really cool town, in my opinion, it is where Kanab on the west side of Utah ~should~ be with its commerce but has a few more years of growing to do. After eating, we drove up 191 and turned left onto 313 heading into the official Canyonlands north entrance. If you haven’t been there, turn left before the part to stop at Dead Horse Point State Park is pretty spectacular. We have some photos from our trip last year below.
Once in Canyonlands (and we highly recommend you purchase the annual pass for all National Parks – it is WELL worth it), we drove to the very end of the road and explored the Grand Viewpoint Overlook. There is about a 3/4 mile hike to the end and the view is well worth it. The hike itself is easy and other than for someone on crutches or in a wheelchair, would be no problem. (Take water everywhere you go!) . Here is a great map of the northern part of Canyonlands. W.e basically started at the end and then worked our way back, stopping along the way to take additional hikes. We definitely want to return – and take some of the longer hikes (Druid’s Arch Trail, White Rim Road) but this was the perfect way to see Canyonlands in one day.