Canyonlands National Park has been carved into the landscape by the Colorado River, the Green River, and their respective tributaries. Filled with a maze of countless canyons, mesas and towers, the park has been divided into four distinctive districts that are recognized for their unique formations and geology: the Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze, and the Colorado and Green Rivers themselves.
Each district retains a distinctive character that distinguishes it from the others, some more easily accessible than others. All of these stunning landscapes are in the heart of the primitive desert of the Colorado Plateau. None of the districts are connected by any roads, so each must be accessed separately.
Island in The Sky
The Island in the Sky mesa towers over 1,000 feet above the surrounding terrain, and is accessible via the North side of the Park. This area is the best for those who want to see the most in a short amount of time, with many opportunities to pull out and view different perspectives of Canyonlands’ spectacular landscape. The Willow Flat Campground is located in this district, open year-round on a first-come, first-served basis, and offers twelve sites with tables, fire grills and vault toilets.
The Needles District is accessible via the southeast corner of the Park. Named after multi-colored spires of Cedar Mesa Sandstone that form the geology of the area, there are many features to visit in the area. This area is best for those who are prepared for and seeking a multi-day adventure in the desert. Squaw Flat Campground is located in the Needles District, open year-round on a first-come, first-served basis, and offers twenty-six sites with bathrooms, fire grates, and picnic tables. Tent pads and water are also available year-round, and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations in advance are encouraged from late March through June and again from early September to mid-October.
The Maze is the most remote district of Canyonlands National Park. Be prepared to be completely self-sufficient, in a very remote and rugged wilderness, with plenty of fuel. A trip to the Maze can easily take a minimum of three days. The Colorado and Green rivers have etched a vast network of canyons and mesas through the heart of Canyonlands, each cutting through and forming canyons that combine to form the “Cataract Canyon”. This exciting white-water rafting adventure starts above the Confluence of the two rivers, with a stretch of flat water ideal for canoes, kayaks and other shallow water crafts. Below the Confluence, the combined flow of both rivers creates a powerful cascade of rapids that create a world-class stretch of white water adventure. All overnight trips in the backcountry require a permit, and all Cataract Canyon trips require river permits.
Canyonlands National Park Camping