7 Awe-inspiring Hikes in Canyonlands National Park

1 Min. Read
A man walking near The Dollhouse in Canyonlands National Park on an OARS hking trip
Photo by Mike Walton

Nestled in the heart of the American Southwest lies a true wonderland of geological marvels – Canyonlands National Park. With its breathtaking canyons, mesas, and buttes carved by rivers and tributaries over millions of years, this park offers some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes on Earth and, as a result, some of the best hiking anywhere. Canyonlands’ trails will lead you through stunning vistas, ancient Native American sites, mesmerizing arches, mysterious craters, and unique rock formations that will leave you amazed. Whether you’re a novice hiker or a seasoned trekker, the park’s diverse trail offerings cater to every skill level and interest. And with four separate districts that make up the park—Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze, and the Green and Colorado Rivers—you’ll never run out of options for exploration. Here are some of the best hikes in Canyonlands National Park.

Put These Canyonlands Hikes On Your Must-Do List


Mesa Arch

Mesa Arch in Utah's Canyonlands
Photo by Tom Gainor

The Mesa Arch Trail offers one of the most iconic sunrise views in Canyonlands. This short, roughly half-mile loop leads you to the edge of a sheer cliff, where the sun paints the arch with stunning hues of orange and red as it creeps over the horizon. As a bonus, Mesa Arch also offers fantastic views of the La Sal Mountains any time of day. 

  • District: Island in the Sky
  • Level: Easy
  • Distance: .7 mile loop
  • Elevation Gain: 88 ft


White Rim Overlook & Grand View Point 

Overlooking Canyonlands from White Rim Point
Photo by Olsen Photo

For spectacular panoramic views, the White Rim Overlook and Grand View Point are a must-do. These trails take you along the rim of the Island in the Sky mesa, treating you to striking vistas at every turn. From the overlooks, you can witness the maze of canyons stretching for miles, providing a glimpse of the immensity of Canyonlands’ geological wonders. Since their trailheads are located right down the road from each other, you can easily conquer both of these short and sweet hikes and be done in time for lunch.

  • District: Island in the Sky
  • Level: Easy
  • Distance: 1.8 miles out & back
  • Elevation Gain: 160 ft


Upheaval Dome

Upheaval Dome in Utah's Canyonlands National Park
Photo by Cristina Thompson

Upheaval Dome is a fascinating option for those interested in mysterious geological phenomena. Located in the Island in the Sky area of Canyonlands, a moderately challenging trail takes you to two separate overlooks of a massive, otherworldly crater with disputed origins. Some scientists believe it was created by a meteorite impact, while others argue it was formed by a salt dome. Regardless of its genesis, the view from the rim is an unforgettable sight and not to be missed.

  • District: Island in the Sky
  • Level: Moderate
  • Distance: 1.3 miles out & back
  • Elevation Gain: 226 ft


Fort Bottom Ruin

Fort Bottom ruin in Canyonlands National Park
Photo by Mike Walton

Fort Bottom is a well-preserved Ancestral Puebloan archeological site perched high on sandstone cliffs overlooking the Green River. While you can access a roughly 3.5-mile roundtrip trail from the White Rim Road, Fort Bottom is an even shorter hike when accessed from the Green River. The steep trek up to the ancient stone structure presents you with a glimpse into the lives of the Ancestral Puebloans and offers incredible views of Stillwater Canyon.

  • District: Island in the Sky
  • Level: Moderate
  • Distance: 3.4 miles out & back (when accessed via White Rim Road)
  • Elevation Gain: 557 ft


Confluence Overlook

The confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers.
Photo by James Kaiser

The confluence of the Green and the Colorado is an extraordinary sight to behold. The Confluence, also lovingly known as the Center of the Universe, sees two powerful waterways come together and also marks the beginning of the incomparable Cataract Canyon. There’s no doubt that the best way to experience this magical convergence is from the river itself, but for those who can’t make it down to river level, a challenging hike through the Needles to the Confluence Overlook offers a worthwhile solution.

  • District: The Needles
  • Level: Difficult
  • Distance: 11 miles out & back
  • Elevation Gain: 1,371 ft


Druid Arch

Druid Arch in Canyonlands National Park
Photo by Veronica Verdin/NPS

Located in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park, the Druid Arch Trail is a nearly 11-mile undertaking that takes you on a journey through a labyrinth of sandstone spires and enchanting slot canyons to one of the most incredible views of the Needles. The pièce de résistance of this hike is Druid Arch, an 85-foot sandstone arch that stands as a natural masterpiece created over time by erosion. Expect some steep climbs and scrambling on this hike, and give yourself a full day to relish the beauty surrounding you.

  • District: The Needles
  • Level: Difficult
  • Distance: 10.8 miles out & back
  • Elevation Gain: 1,446 ft


The Dollhouse

Hiking to The Dollhouse in Canyonlands National Park
Photo by James Kaiser

Challenging, yet immensely rewarding, The Dollhouse in the Maze district is arguably one of the most incredible and sought-after hikes in Canyonlands. Best accessed on a Colorado River rafting trip through Cataract Canyon, the steep trail at Spanish Bottom rewards you at the end with captivating views of the park’s remarkable and varied landscape as far as the eye can see, as well as the opportunity to explore well-preserved Puebloan dwellings. This hike will leave you breathless (and not just from the strenuous trek to get to the top) as you wander through massive sandstone spires, renowned for their unique formations. Worthy of any hiker’s bucket list, The Dollhouse is an OARS favorite.

  • District: The Maze
  • Level: Difficult
  • Distance: 2.8 miles out & back
  • Elevation Gain: 1,299 ft

As you explore these trails and connect with the rugged beauty and history of this national treasure, remember to respect and preserve this fragile ecosystem for generations to come. Happy hiking!

Kate Rhoswen

Kate Rhoswen is the Marketing Assistant for OARS. A storyteller through many mediums, she loves writing about the river and sharing her experiences with the world.

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