Article by Maggie Slepian - Backpacker, trail runner, climber, and mountain biker
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 unique you’ll find it hard to believe you’re not doing the best Grand Canyon hikes.
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.
Backpacker, trail runner, climber, and mountain biker
Maggie is an avid outdoor enthusiast based in Bozeman, Montana. When she's not in front of a computer writing and editing, she can be found backpacking, trail running, mountain biking, climbing, shooting archery, or trying to teach her cat how to walk on a leash.