Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Needles Section, Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park is divided into thirds by the Colorado and Green rivers. It's impossible to travel from one section to the other within the park because there are no bridges over the rivers. I have not been to the Eastern section which is only accessible via dirt roads. The majority of visitors to the park go to the Northern- Island in the Sky section because that section is closer to Moab and has the most spectacular scenery owing to the fact that it's on the canyon rim. The Southern- Needles section is in the lowlands of the canyon, close to the level of the rivers. Both sections are beautiful. The Needles section has the advantage of being less crowded and because of it's lower elevation is slightly warmer in both the winter and summer. There are many miles of trails in both sections as well as many miles of dirt roads that mostly require high clearance vehicles. I stuck to the paved roads when I visited. There is lots to see and do near the paved roads in the park but the majority of the Southern and all of the Western sections of the park are only accessible via dirt roads.

Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Squaw Flat Campground, Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Squaw Flat is the only campground on the paved roads in the Needles section. It's a very nice campground with wide separation between sites. It does not have many available sites though. I arrived early and was able to get a site without a reservation in July 2013. The campground did fill up later that day and the next. There is an undeveloped camping area 2 miles north of 211 on the unpaved Lock Hart Road that looks really nice. This camping area is outside of the National park and in either BLM or NFS land. I was in the area during an active phase of the summer monsoon so there were lightning storms pretty much every evening I was there. I had the best luck photographing lighting in nearby Dead Horse Point State Park but I managed to catch a few storms in Canyonlands NP. Photographing lighting became an obsession for the week I was there. I have a bunch of lightning photographs and tips for photographing lightning on this page.

Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Grandview Point, Canyonlands National Park

The Island in the Sky (northern) section has more dramatic scenery than the Needles section. The main road in the Island in the Sky section follows the canyon rim to Grandview Point Overlook which is above the confluence of the Colorado and Green rivers. Willow Flat is the only campground in the Island in the Sky section. Willow Flat is more crowded than Squaw Flat and the campsites have less privacy but it's still a nice campground. I was able to get a site at Willow Flat because I showed up early but many people later in the day got turned away (July). The BLM managed Horse Thief campground north of the park entrance acts as an overflow campground for the busy Island in the Sky section. Horse Thief is in a flat, boring area and looked kind of depressing but there were plenty of sites available. Mesa Arch is probably the most popular attraction in the Island in the Sky section other than Grandview Point. If you want to take a picture of the arch without people climbing around or on top of it, you will have to be very patient or push people out of the way.

Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Needles Section, Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Squaw Flat Campground, Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Grandview Point, Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Island in the Sky Section, Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Island in the Sky Section, Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Island in the Sky Section, Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Island in the Sky Section, Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Island in the Sky Section, Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Needles Section, Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Needles Section, Canyonlands National Park, Utah

 

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