For the final day of our Mighty 5 Utah road trip, we visited Canyonlands National Park. The night before, we spent some time in Moab taking in our last moments of freedom one can only feel while on vacation. We stopped at the local market which was a lot of fun, because we got to see a tiny glimpse of what life is like for the locals. I can definitely see myself living in a place like Moab some day. For dinner, we were in the mood for Italian and ate at Pasta Jays. After eating at Pasta Jays, we made our way back to the Moab Diner to grab some hot tea and cinnamon rolls for desert. I slept incredibly well that night, dreaming of cinnamon rolls and arches.
Canyonlands National Park is the largest National Park in Utah. The park is broken down into four districts: The Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze, and The Rivers. For this trip, we only visited the Island in the Sky district, as it was closest to Moab. The Needles is the next closest district to Moab, but we didn’t have the time needed to make it down to see it.
We got an early start on our final day with a plan to arrive in Canyonlands National Park before sunrise. In just about every book and online post, you’ll see that sunrise at Mesa Arch is a “must see” event. Having now seen the sunrise over the arch, I can say that it definitely is impressive. What’s even more impressive is that there were already 15-20 at the arch when we arrived. I’m glad we got to the arch when we did because that crowd grew to 30+ by the time the sun began to break over the horizon.
The hike to Mesa Arch is .5 miles with 100ft of elevation gain.
After watching the sun rise at Mesa Arch, Julia and I drove to Upheaval Dome. Upheaval Dome is an impact crater. The formation of Upheaval Dome is not known for certain, but the prevailing theory is that it formed through a meteor impact. As crowded as it was at Mesa Arch, there was no one on the trail for Upheaval Dome. It was really nice to have the trail to ourselves to fully enjoy the later stages of sunrise.
The hike to the Upheaval Dome lookout is 1 mile roundtrip, with the option to tack on another .5 miles by walking to the second lookout. This trail gains 50 ft.
After finishing our hike out to Upheaval Dome, Julia and I spend some time driving around to some nice lookouts, before making our final stop at the White Rim Overlook. The White Rim Overlook trail totals 1.5 miles out and back, but we only walked about half of it.
In the canyon we could see the 100 mile long White Rim Trail, which stretches across the canyon floor. It’s a great option for hikers and backpackers looking to do a fun adventure. The next time I visit Canyonlands I’m going to take the mountain biking option.
After our hike around the White Rim Overlook, we made our way back to Moab to take a quick shower and check out of our hotel. As excited and satisfied as felt having just visited The Might 5 National Parks of Utah, I was sad to be leaving it all behind. Southern Utah is one of those places that really leaves an imprint on your heart and mind. I’m finding that it’s near impossible to shake.