Canyonlands National Park
To say that Canyonlands National Park in Utah is huge is a massive understatement. It would take days to visit only the highlights. The park covers 337,598 acres and is divided into three separate areas, Island in the Sky, The Maze, and The Needles. On our short visit in September we only had time for the Island in the Sky district, which was the section closest to Moab. With more time and a 4WD vehicle, it would be a blast to explore the rest of the park.
Island in the Sky
Island in the Sky has a paved, scenic road that tours the entire mesa top. It’s 34 miles round trip, and takes every bit of four hours if you spend only a few minutes at each overlook. You don’t want to miss any of them. Each overlook offers a unique perspective, over 1,000 feet above the canyon floor.
Grand View Point Trail
Not content to just look at the scenery a few feet from the road, we opted to pack our lunch along the Grand View Point trail. This was an easy hike, two-miles round trip, with no rock climbing required. It took us along the canyon edge to the end of a peninsula. Views on both sides were spectacular, and at the very end, we sat in the shade of a huge boulder and watched a hawk swoop over the valley below while we ate our lunch.
Shafer Canyon Overlook
Later, another very short hike to the Shafer Canyon Overlook offered a different view of the canyon with Ravens soaring beneath us. We could also watch Jeeps maneuvering the 4WD trail through the heart of the canyon.
We met a German tourist there and struck up a conversation. He said they don’t have vistas like this in Germany. Our country is huge with so much to see. How could we ever tire of it?
I’d say there were more foreign visitors than Americans at each National Park we’ve visited. I’m so glad we decided to make it a priority to really see our country!
For more information: www.visitutah.com/canyonlands
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