Canyonlands National Park is divided into four districts: the Needles, Island in the Sky, the Maze, and the Canyonland Rivers District. Each section has its own terrain, trails, and awe-inspiring scenery—and it’s all so varied you’ll find it hard to believe you’re in the same national park.
Head to the Needles District for iconic hiking trails
This was one of the more remote areas I’ve visited in Southern Utah. I split my Canyonlands trip into two segments, since the park is so big. It can be hard to choose one hike, but you can’t go wrong in the Needles District, and the Chesler Park Loop is iconic. The trailhead is over an hour from the closest town, and the area’s namesake features—narrow sandstone pillars—make this a don’t-miss option. The majority of the trail is mellow, rolling terrain, scattered with some rocky scrambles and a narrow canyon before reaching the iconic spires.
Like all of the parks in southern Utah, be prepared and bring plenty of water, and have a healthy respect for the terrain. While the trails are well maintained and marked, it’s easy to get turned around, and the heat and scarcity of available water are not to be disregarded.