×
attractions activities lodging + campgrounds area info services transportation events submit an event blog contact search Covid-19 Info Do It Like A Local

Moab's Dark Skies

For people who have spent most of their lives living in or near a city, looking up to see the night sky in all its galactic glory is a truly awe-inspiring experience. The total absence of light pollution in designated dark-sky areas makes for an all-natural light show unlike anything you’ll see in any city, and a chance to observe the stars just like our ancestors did before the explosion of human civilization. Whether you’re a seasoned stargazer or a first-timer, here’s what you need to know to make the most out of Moab’s incredible dark-sky destinations.   

Arches National Park

Arches National Park Dark Skies

With its main entrance just a few minutes from downtown Moab, Arches National Park is one of the most accessible places near town to soak up the night sky in total darkness. Designated as an International Dark Sky Park in summer of 2019, Arches took careful measures to become dark-sky friendly, with shielded light fixtures that minimize glare, as well as bulbs that limit the amount of blue light generated—a major source of light pollution. On a clear night, you can get great views of the stars from just about anywhere in the park, though keep in mind that the further north (and away from town) you venture, the darker the skies will be.

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park Dark Skies

Slightly more off the beaten path from Moab proper—which means further away from the ambient light that obscures the night sky—Canyonlands National Park was named a Gold-Tier Dark Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association in 2015. Nighttime views here are so incredible that people visit from all over the world to explore on their own or participate in park-ranger-led stargazing activities. Similar to Arches National Park’s dark-sky conservation efforts, Canyonlands National Park also utilizes special night-sky friendly lighting fixtures and bulbs to preserve its unique magic of total darkness after sundown.

Dead Horse Point State Park

Dead Horse Point State Park Dark Skies

Another International Dark Sky Park (with the status awarded in 2016), Dead Horse Point State Park is approximately a 45-minute drive from downtown Moab, and one of the best places in the state for stargazing. Its location atop a high plateau gives great lines of sight that offer a nearly full view of the celestial sphere, and it’s far enough away from surrounding development to stay incredibly dark at night. In addition to plenty of places to enjoy the night sky on your own, the park also offers ranger-guided night activities from full-moon walks to telescope-gazing sessions.

When to Go & What to Bring

Once you’ve decided on a destination, there are a few things to keep in mind that can majorly enhance your experience. If possible, try to time your visit to coincide with a new moon, as the skies will be even darker. If you can’t, that’s OK—you’ll still have a window of dark-sky time before the moon comes over the horizon. If you’re interested in diving a little deeper than simply looking skyward, consider smartphone apps like Star Walk or Night Sky. And if you really want to get serious, you can look into star charts that correspond to individual dates and locations. Consider bringing a pair of binoculars, as they’re more affordable, portable, and user-friendly than a telescope. And while bringing a headlamp or flashlight is a good idea to safely make your way around the park, one with a red-light mode is preferred to preserve night vision, which can take nearly 20 minutes to adapt to the darkness.

For more information on stargazing in Moab, visit discovermoab.com.


Moab’s Amazing Night Skies

Visitors from around the world come to experience Moab’s dark skies.

Introduction

The public lands surrounding Moab have some of the darkest skies remaining in the contiguous 48 United States. As few as one in ten Americans lives in an area where they can see the estimated 2,500 stars that should be visible under normal conditions. In many cities, the night sky is completely obscured by the glow of urban settlement. At Arches National Park, the naked eye is sufficient to witness a wealth of stars. Under the right conditions, common binoculars may even reveal the rings of Saturn.

Arches National Park

Arches’ relative isolation from the artificial light of urban areas makes it an ideal place for viewing the night sky. Park staff have also worked to reduce ambient light from within the park by replacing park lighting with "night-sky friendly" lights and fixtures. Arches National Park preserves a wealth of resources. Many, like natural darkness, have become more significant as they become increasingly rare outside the park.

On a clear night, you can see great stars just about anywhere in the park. Areas off the main park road with few obstructions of the sky are best.

The farther north you drive, away from the lights of Moab, the darker the sky will be.

Try stargazing at these areas:

  • Balanced Rock Picnic Area
  • The Windows
  • Garden of Eden Viewpoint
  • Panorama Point

Canyonlands National Park

Night skies at Canyonlands are so pristine that the International Dark-Sky Association designated Canyonlands as a Gold-Tier International Dark Sky Park in 2015. Canyonlands joins three other national parks in southern Utah with the International Dark Sky Park designation.

Visitors come from all over the world to attend night sky ranger programs and to experience the dark skies they never see at home. In many national parks these night sky programs are the most popular ranger-led activities.

Efforts to preserve natural darkness at Canyonlands began several years ago with a focused effort to revamp and replace park lighting with "night-sky friendly" bulbs and fixtures. Today nearly 100 percent of the lights in Canyonlands National Park are "night-sky friendly." 

Dead Horse Point State Park

Dead Horse Point State Park, recognized as an International Dark Sky Park in 2016, is one of the most active and accessible areas to stargaze in the Moab area. Its high plateau location, mountains far in the distance and cities out of sight yields a nearly full view of celestial sphere. Park staff routinely provide programs celebrating the night sky, from walks under the full moon to gazing through telescopes at objects millions of light years away. Whether you want to enjoy by yourself or join a ranger, Dead Horse Point State Park is a premier spot to see the skies our ancestors wondered over and survived with.

Download Dead Horse Point State Park’s Dark Sky Brochure to learn more.

Experience Our Dark Skies

Experiencing the night sky provides perspective, inspiration, and leads us to reflect on our humanity and place in the universe. The history of scientific discovery and even human curiosity itself is indebted to the natural night sky. Every visit to Moab should include some time under the stars.

For the best viewing plan your visit around the time of a New Moon. Use our Moon Phase Chart for specific dates. The following tools are also helpful for planning your evening under the stars:

Clear Sky Chart (Click on the chart for a detailed description.)


Spot the Space Station


Moab Nightlife

Introduction

After a full day of hiking, biking, rafting, 4-wheeling or sightseeing, take some time to relax in the town of Moab. Moab has a surprising variety of nighttime activities that are sure to please every visitor.

COVID-19 Updates

  • Most restaurants are open for dine-in, pickup, or delivery services.
  • Event cancellations vary.
  • Face coverings are required in all indoor and outdoor public areas (where social distancing isn’t possible.)
  • Get more COVID-19 information here.

Theaters

Moab Backyard Theater

56 West 100 South, Moab (next to Zax Restaurant)
moabbackyardtheater.com

Great entertainment in a relaxed outdoor setting beneath a big cottonwood tree just a few steps off Main Street. The performances are always unique, affordable and entertaining. Outside food and drinks are welcome! Grab some dinner to-go from nearby restaurants and enjoy it while you catch a show.

Sound and Light Shows

Canyonlands by Night and Day

1861 N Hwy 191, Moab (North of the Colorado River bridge)
canyonlandsbynight.com

Begin your evening at Canyonlands by Night’s riverside location, two miles north of Moab, where you will be served a cowboy-style Dutch oven dinner in a dining room overlooking the Colorado River. After dinner, guests board a flat-bottomed boat and head up the river. Once darkness settles in, the formal part of the evening begins with 40,000 watts of light illuminating the canyon walls. Lights, shadows, music, and narration tell the story of the canyon’s formation, creation, and history.

Live Music

The Alley Sports Pub and Grill

1078 East Mill Creek Dr, Moab
facebook.com/TheAlleySportsPubAndGrill

The Blu Pig

811 South Main St, Moab
blupigbbq.com

Woody’s Tavern

221 S Main St
woodystavernmoab.com

Dark Sky Activities

Dark Sky Programs and Full Moon Hikes

Arches National Park • Canyonlands National Park • Dead Horse Point State Park
nps.gov/cany/planyourvisit/stargazing.htm

The parks and monuments of the southeastern Utah share some of the darkest skies remaining in the contiguous 48 United States. As few as one in ten Americans live in areas where they can see the estimated 2,500 stars that should be visible under normal conditions. During the spring and fall, Island in the Sky rangers team up with rangers from Arches National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park to introduce visitors to the wonders of the night sky. A ranger program will be followed by stargazing and telescope viewing. The location will rotate among the three parks and the start time will vary with the time of sunset.

Astronomy Tours

Experience the unmatched dark skies surrounding Moab with a tour from Moab Astronomy Tours or RedRock Astronomy. Come along as your guide shows you planets, galaxies, star clusters, nebulae, and other breathtaking celestial sights using high powered telescopes.

Downtown Moab

Evening is a great time to explore our downtown business district with its great collection of restaurants, microbreweries, shops, and galleries. Moab’s diverse cuisine will please any palate, from regional southwestern fare to world-class gourmet. Stroll through the downtown shops for a great selection of southwestern arts and jewelry, souvenirs, t-shirts, and much more.


Activities for Kids at Dead Horse Point

Kid Friendly Hiking

The best views around, by day or night, adorn a beautiful mesa top peninsula towering above the Colorado River. Whether you want a short stop in experience, a couple hour hike or days of adventure, Dead Horse Point State Park offers options to fully enjoy those views and more. A short paved trail at the main overlook itself is nicely mellow for small legs with walls for ease of mind while eight miles of primitive hiking trails yield more beauty and fascination for those wanting more. 16 miles of intermediate mountain biking trails known as the Intrepid Trail System weave through washes and over slickrock to more remote views at a greater challenge. Take a self service hike, tackle some single track or even join a ranger for a program to feast your eyes, and stoke the imagination of a young mind.

Ranger Programs

Come learn at the park! Rangers hold a variety of educational programs throughout the season. From bats to bugs, plants to rocks and even the glorious night sky there is plenty to learn about at Dead Horse Point State park. Typical programs include:

Roving Rangers: Ask a question and have your mind blown as rangers roam the rim of Dead Horse Point itself.

Night Sky Programs: From telescopes to full moon hikes, the night sky is well experienced in this International Dark Sky Park.

Ranger Led Hikes: Experience nature up close and personal as rangers accompany you along the desert mesa tops.

Check out the events page at deadhorsepoint.utah.gov for the most up to date schedule on what programs are coming up at the park!

Junior Ranger Program

Free Junior Ranger booklets are available at the visitor center. Filled with fun activities, these books reveal the wonders of Dead Horse Point to kids and parents alike. By completing five or more exercises, participants earn a Junior Ranger badge and signed certificate. Activities are designed for ages 6 to 12. Kids also enjoy the short interpretive talks and walks offered spring through fall. Check at the Visitor’s Center for schedule.


Dead Horse Point State Park

The view from Dead Horse Point is one of the most photographed scenic vistas in the world.

Moab Savings!

Introduction

32 miles (51.5 km) from Moab, Dead Horse Point State Park is one of Utah’s most spectacular state parks. The view from Dead Horse Point is one of the most photographed scenic vistas in the world. Towering 2,000 feet above the Colorado River, the overlook provides a breathtaking panorama of Canyonlands’ sculpted pinnacles and buttes. Millions of years of geologic activity created the spectacular views from Dead Horse Point State Park. Deposition of sediments by ancient oceans, freshwater lakes, streams and wind blown sand dunes created the rock layers of canyon country. Igneous activity formed the high mountains that rise like cool blue islands from the desert below.

The legend of Dead Horse Point states that in the late 1800’s the point was used as a corral for wild mustangs roaming the mesa top. Cowboys herded them across the narrow neck of land and onto the point. The neck was then fenced off with branches and brush. One time, for some unknown reason, horses were left corralled on the waterless point where they died of thirst within view of the Colorado River 2,000 feet below.

There are miles of pet-friendly developed hiking trails in the park, including a paved trail which provides easy access to some of the most scenic views. Mountain Bikers will love the new Intrepid Trail System at Dead Horse Point. With slickrock sections, looping singletrack, sandy washes, and incredible scenery, the Intrepid Trail System provides a great taste of what Moab mountain biking is all about. This is the perfect ride for families and offers spectacular views of the Colorado River and Canyonlands National Park.

Distance from Moab
32 Miles (51.5 km)
Directions from Moab
Drive 9 miles (14.5 km) northwest of Moab on US 191 and then 23 miles (37 km) southwest on Utah 313. Driving time to the visitor center from Moab is roughly 45 minutes.
Park Hours
6:00 am – 10:00 pm
Fees
Day Use fees (valid for 3 consecutive days starting from the date of purchase):
  • $20 per vehicle (up to 8 passengers)
  • $15 for Utah Seniors (Utah residents 62 or over)
  • $10 per motorcycle
  • $4 pedestrian or cyclist (biking into park)
  • Commercial day-use fee: $4 per person
Visitor Center and Hours
The visitor center is open year-round, 9am-5pm, has facilities for the disabled, an information area, exhibits, rest rooms, water, publications and souvenirs.
(435) 259-2614

COVID-19 Updates

Kayenta and Windgate Campgrounds

Nestled within a grove of juniper, the Kayenta Campground at Dead Horse Point State Park offers a peaceful, shaded respite from the surrounding desert. All twenty-one sites offer lighted shade structures, picnic tables, fire rings, and tent pads. All sites are also equipped with RV electrical hookups. Modern restroom facilities are available, and trails lead directly from the campground to various points of interest within the park. 21 sites/4 non-reservable/1 ADA accessible.

New in 2018, the Wingate Campground sits atop the mesa with far reaching views to the area’s mountain ranges and deep canyons. This campground contains thirty-one (31) campsites, twenty (20) of which have electrical hookups that support RV or tent campers while eleven (11) are walk-in, tent only sites. All sites have fire-pits, picnic tables under shade shelters, and access to bathrooms with running water and dish washing sinks. RV sites will accommodate vehicles up to 56′ and there is a dump station at the entrance to the campground. To make a camping reservation contact Reserve America at 1-800-322-3770, or visit reserveamerica.com.

Yurts

The nine yurts at Dead Horse Point State Park provide the most luxurious accommodations that can be found atop the mesa. A perfect location for experiencing sunrise and sunset, the yurts enjoy sweeping views of both the canyons to the south and the La Sal mountains to the east. A private spur of the Intrepid Trail System gives easy access to the otherwise remote Big Chief and Pyramid Canyon overlooks. Each yurt contains sleeping space for up to six people, in the form of bunked double beds and a pullout futon couch. An outdoor propane grill allows for cooking on site, with the park providing propane free of charge. Heat, air conditioning, and electrical outlets are available, and comfortable seating areas both indoors and outdoors provide for a relaxing environment in any weather condition. Modern restroom facilities are located within easy walking distance.

Please note that pets are not allowed in the yurts, or in vehicles outside of the yurts. If you would like to spend the night in the park with your furry friend, consider the Kayenta Campground.

To make a camping reservation contact Reserve America at 1-800-322-3770, or visit reserveamerica.com.

Camping Fees

  • Kayenta and Windgate campgrounds are $40 per night (RV Campsites) and $35 (Hike-in Only Campsites at Windgate). Maximum of 8 people per site.
  • Yurts: $140 per night year round, maximum of 6 people per site
  • Camping and yurt fees accommodate one vehicle. Extra vehicles are charged a $15 fee.
  • Reservations can be made four months in advance by calling 1-800-322-3770 or online at reserveamerica.com. First-come, first-served openings may be available at the park.
  • There are no water hookups for RV’s. Fill up your RVs in Moab.

Park Highlights

Pet Friendly Hiking Trails

Pet Friendly Hiking Trails

Eight miles of pet friendly hiking trails in the park include two joining loops around the rim and several spurs to beautiful viewpoints.

Mountain Biking

Mountain Biking

The Intrepid Trail System has three hiking and biking loops ranging from one to nine miles with varying degrees of difficulty.

Yurts

Yurts

Nine yurts are available for overnight use and are available by reservation. Open year-round.

Experience Dead Horse Point

Experience Dead Horse Point

Dead Horse Point’s combination of breathtaking scenery and easy accessibility has made it a must-see for visitors to the Moab area.

Night Skies

Dead Horse Point State Park, recognized as an International Dark Sky Park in 2016, is one of the most active and accessible areas to stargaze in the Moab area. Its high plateau location, mountains far in the distance and cities out of sight yields a nearly full view of celestial sphere. Park staff routinely provide programs celebrating the night sky, from walks under the full moon to gazing through telescopes at objects millions of light years away. Whether you want to enjoy by yourself or join a ranger, Dead Horse Point State Park is a premier spot to see the skies our ancestors wondered over and survived with.

Download Dead Horse Point State Park’s Dark Sky Brochure to learn more.

Biological Soil Crust

Help to keep all of our trails open. Protect this fragile, but crucial, soil by remaining on designated roads, routes and trails at all times.

Biological soil crust, also known as cryptobiotic soil, is the foundation of desert plant life. This black, knobby crust is made up of many different living organisms and plays a vital role in maintaining the desert ecosystem. However, this sensitive soil is extremely fragile and can take decades to grow. Even a footstep can damage the crust for decades, having lasting impacts on the desert environment. Please stay on the trials. Help to protect this fragile life by remaining on designated roads, routes, and trails at all times. Where hiking trails are not established, hike in sandy washes or on bare rock.

Mountain Biking the Intrepid Trail

Overview
Deadhorse Point State Park, 32 miles west of Moab

Difficulty
Easy to Moderate

Length
Big Chief: 3.6 miles
Crossroads: 1.7 miles
Great Pyramid: 2.2 miles
Intrepid: 0.5 miles
Prickly Pair: 3.0 miles
Raven Roll: 1.7 miles
Twisted Tree: 1.5 miles
Whiptail: 2.6 miles

Elevation @ Trailhead
5900’

Season
Ideal in spring, fall and winter; midday heat in July and August

Directions
Nine miles northwest of Moab on US 191 and then 23 miles southwest on Utah 313 to the end of the highway.

Trail Description

With slickrock sections, looping singletrack, sandy washes, and incredible scenery, the Intrepid Trail System provides a great taste of what Moab mountain biking is all about. This is the perfect ride for families and offers spectacular views of the Colorado River and Canyonlands National Park.

The Intrepid Trail System has 8 segments totaling just over 16 miles of trail for mountain bikers and hikers to enjoy varying through degrees of intermediate difficulty. The eastern section of the trail is easier and often recommended for beginning riders in the Moab area, while the western loop is more challenging. The entirety of the system will offer opportunities for visitors of all ages and abilities, and provide breathtaking views. Unlike the hiking trails, pets are not welcome on the Intrepid Trail System for human, animal and environmental safety.

The Intrepid Trail was made possible through great public/private partnerships. Intrepid Potash, Inc., for which the trail is named, gave $20,000 for construction of a new single-track, non-motorized trail system. The trail was built by Trail Mix, a local volunteer organization, and volunteers from the Utah Conservation Corps, American Conservation Experience and Moab Trails Alliance. The National Park Service and Utah State Parks also worked on the project. Dead Horse Point State Park is located approximately 30 miles from Moab. The park also offers camping and day-use facilities, visitor center, and naturalist programs. For more information call (435) 259-2614.






Canyonlands National Park

The largest national park in Utah, with diversity that staggers the imagination.

Moab Savings!

Introduction

Canyonlands is the largest national park in Utah, and its diversity staggers the imagination. The easiest way to see the park is with a visit to the Island in the Sky district, only 32 miles (51.5 km) from Moab. The Island in the Sky offers many pullouts with spectacular views along the paved scenic drive. Hiking trails and four-wheel-drive roads access backcountry areas for day or overnight trips.

The Island in the Sky sits atop a massive 1500 foot mesa, quite literally an Island in the Sky. Twenty miles (32.2 km) of paved roads lead to many of the most spectacular views in Canyon Country. From these lofty viewpoints visitors can often see over 100 miles (161 km) in any given direction, resulting in panoramic views that encompass thousands of square miles of canyon country. Take a short day-hike or spend a relaxing late afternoon enjoying the sunset. Whether you have a few hours to spend or a few days, the Island in the Sky provides an unforgettable Canyon Country experience for the entire family.

Thank you for wearing a face covering in Moab.

Face coverings that completely cover the nose and mouth are now mandatory in Moab. They must be worn in public areas including indoor or outdoor space open to the public where consistent social distancing of at least 6 feet is not possible, reasonable or prudent. Free masks are available at the Moab Information Center, on the corner of Main and Center Streets, and at the national parks.

Distance from Moab
32 miles (51.5km)
Directions from Moab
Take Highway 191 10 miles (16 km) north to Highway 313, and then drive southwest 22 miles (35 km). Driving time to the visitor center from Moab is roughly 40 minutes.
Park Hours
Canyonlands National Park is normally open year-round, 24 hours a day.
Entrance Fee
$30/vehicle – Good for 7 days (Subject to change.) Note: Fee collections are suspended until June 15, 2020.
Visitor Center & Hours

Inside visitor services temporarily closed. (Visitor services available outside building.) Bookstore open.

Canyonlands is open year-round, 24 hours a day, however the park visitor centers close for the winter. Call (435) 719-2313 for park information.

MAP

PARK WEBCAM

COVID-19 Updates

Camping

Island in the Sky Campground (Willow Flat) has 12 sites, first-come, first-served. The campground is open year-round. The spectacular Green River Overlook is nearby. Nightly camping fee is $15 per site. Sites fill quickly spring through fall. There are toilets, picnic tables, and fire rings in the campground. There are no hookups for RVs and no water at the campground. You can get drinking water outside the visitor center spring through fall.

In addition to the campground located within the park, there is a great selection of additional campgrounds in the surrounding area. Moab has many commercial campgrounds with RV hookups in addition to a huge assortment of BLM public campgrounds in extremely scenic locations. Click here for a complete list of all the camping options available in the Moab area.

Suggested Activities

A Few Hours
Drive the park’s 20 miles (32.2 km) of paved roads and enjoy the spectacular views. Sunrise and sunset are particularly beautiful times of day to enjoy these lofty panoramic views of canyon country.
1/2 Day
Drive the paved scenic drive and hike some of the shorter trails, such as the Mesa Arch or Upheaval Dome Trails. A recent theory suggests that Upheaval Dome was created by a meteor impact.
Full Day
Drive the paved scenic drive and hike some of the longer trails in the park, such as the 5 mile (8 km) round trip Neck Spring Trail. Those with high clearance/4WD vehicles can drive down the Shafer Trail to the White Rim and explore Musselman Arch, or drive all the way down to the Colorado River via Lathrop Canyon. Note that a Day Use Permit is required.
Several Days
Backpackers can experience the solitude of Canyonlands by hiking some of the trails from the mesa top to the White Rim (steep & strenuous) and spend the night in the backcountry. 4-wheel drive enthusiasts or mountain bikers may want to travel the 100 mile “White Rim Trail” which loops below the Island in the Sky mesa. Reservations for White Rim campsites and a Backcountry Permit is required.

Food

Please note that food is not available within the park. The closest restaurants are either in the town of Moab, at Dead Horse Point State Park, or at the dinosaur museum at the intersection of Highways 191 and 313 (entrance fee is not required to access the restaurant).

Park Highlights

Green River Overlook

Green River Overlook

The Green River meanders beneath the Island in the Sky, as seen from the Green River Overlook. A paved walkway leads right up to the overlook.

Mesa Arch

Mesa Arch

A great hike for families with small children, the .5 mi (.8 km) round trip hike to Mesa Arch rewards visitors with a naturally framed view of canyon country.

Shafer Trail

Shafer Trail

The Shafer Trail descends from the Island in the Sky to the White Rim. A high clearance vehicle is strongly recommended. For current conditions check at the visitor center or call 435-259-4351.

Cataract Canyon

Cataract Canyon

Located in Canyonlands National Park, Cataract Canyon contains fourteen miles of rapids ranging in difficulty up to Class V.

Spring Wildflowers

Spring Wildflowers

Indian Paintbrush are just one of the many wildflowers that populate the Island in the Sky in the Spring (April-June).

Night Sky

Night Sky

Canyonlands National Park, which contains some of the darkest night skies in North America, is a popular destination for stargazers. Click here for the latest sunrise/sunset and moon phase information for Moab.

Biking

Biking

Canyonlands is famous for its mountain biking terrain, particularly for the 100-mile White Rim Road at the Island in the Sky. The Maze also offers some multi-day trip possibilities, though the logistics and roads are more difficult (for the support vehicles, not the bikes).

The Rivers

The Rivers

The Colorado and Green rivers wind through the heart of Canyonlands, cutting through layered sandstone to form two deep canyons. Both rivers are calm upstream of the Confluence, ideal for canoes, kayaks and other shallow water craft. Below the Confluence, the combined flow of both rivers spills down Cataract Canyon with remarkable speed and power, creating a world-class stretch of white water.

Biological Soil Crust

Help to keep all of our trails open. Protect this fragile, but crucial, soil by remaining on designated roads, routes and trails at all times.

Biological soil crust, also known as cryptobiotic soil, is the foundation of desert plant life. This black, knobby crust is made up of many different living organisms and plays a vital role in maintaining the desert ecosystem. However, this sensitive soil is extremely fragile and can take decades to grow. Even a footstep can damage the crust for decades, having lasting impacts on the desert environment. Please stay on the trials. Help to protect this fragile life by remaining on designated roads, routes, and trails at all times. Where hiking trails are not established, hike in sandy washes or on bare rock.

Hiking

The Island in the Sky offers a wide variety of hiking trails ranging from short 30 minute walks on the mesa top, to overnight expeditions all the way down to the Colorado River.

Trails are marked with cairns (small rock piles). Please do not disturb existing cairns or build new ones. Signs are located at trailheads and intersections. All trails leading below the Mesa Top are primitive and rough; carry and know how to use a topographic map. No potable water is available along any of the hiking trails. During the warmest months always carry at least one gallon of water per person, per day.

Mesa Top – Easy Trails

Trail

Distance

Time

Elev. Change

Mesa Arch

0.5mi / 0.8km

30 minutes

100ft / 30m

Mornings are best – Beautiful Arch on cliff edge.

Murphy Point

1.3mi / 1.9km

1 hour

100ft / 30m

Panoramic view with Henry Mountains.

White Rim Overlook

1.5mi / 2.0km

1 hour

25ft / 8m

View of potholes & White Rim Road.

Grand View Point

2.0mi / 3.0km

1.5 hours

50ft / 15m

Panoramic view along cliff edge.

Mesa Top – Moderate Trails

Trail

Distance

Time

Elev. Change

Neck Spring

5.0mi / 8.0km

3 – 4 hours

300ft / 91m

Springs – Evidence of ranching

Aztec Butte

2.0mi / 3.0km

1.5 hours

225ft / 69m

Steep slickrock to top – Granaries.

Whale Rock

1.0mi / 1.5km

1 hour

100ft / 30m

Bare slickrock – Good views.

Upheaval Dome to Main Overlook

1.0mi / 1.5km

30 minutes

50ft / 15m

View into crater

Upheaval Dome to Second Overlook

2.0mi / 3.0km

45 minutes

200ft / 61m

View of crater & upheaval canyon

Mesa Top to White Rim – Steep & Strenuous Trails

Trail

Distance

Time

Elev. Change

Lathrop to White Rim Road

10mi / 16km

5- 7 hours

1600ft / 488m

Views of Colorado River & La Sal Mountains

Lathrop to Colorado River

17mi / 27km

Overnight

2000ft / 610m

River access – Cottonwoods

Murphy Loop

9mi / 14km

5 – 7 hours

1400ft / 427m

Panoramic view from hogback.

Gooseberry

6mi / 10km

4-6 Hours

1400ft/427m

Views of cliffs & La Sal Mountains.

Wilhite

10mi / 16km

6 – 8 hours

1600ft / 488m

Slot canyon across White Rim Road.

Alcove Spring

10mi / 16km

6 – 7 hours

1300ft / 396m

Large alcove, views of Taylor Canyon.

Syncline Loop

8mi / 13km

5 – 7 hours

1300ft / 396m

Canyon hiking – some shade.

Syncline Loop: Upheaval Crater Spur

3mi / 4km

2 hours

350ft / 107m

Some scrambling over rocks.

Syncline Loop: Upheaval Canyon Spur

6mi / 10km

2 – 3 hours

400ft / 122m

Sandy hike along wash bottom.

Biking

With hundreds of miles of four-wheel-drive roads, Canyonlands offers ideal terrain for multi-night mountain bike trips. Most groups travel with vehicle support to haul water and gear since there are few reliable water sources along these roads. For the truly adventurous, self-supported trips with panniers and trailers are also possible. Bikes must remain on designated roads: there are no single-track trails in the park.

Things to Know

  • Overnight Trips: You must have a permit for all overnight trips.
  • Day Trips: You must have a permit for day trips on White Rim, Elephant Hill, Lavender Canyon, and Peekaboo/Horse Canyon roads.
    Groups must camp in designated sites.
  • Reservations for White Rim campsites are very competitive. You may have to make a reservation up to four months in advance.
  • There are no shoulders or bike lanes. Be aware of passing vehicles.

Where Can I Ride My Bike?

You can ride a bicycle on any public roadway in the park. Some roads are better for cycling than others. Check at visitor centers for recommendations and road conditions.

Paved Roads

You can ride on paved roads at the Island in the Sky. You must must ride single file. There are no road shoulders or bike lanes; please be aware of passing vehicles.

Backcountry Roads

Canyonlands is famous for its mountain biking terrain, particularly for the 100-mile White Rim Road at Island in the Sky. The 100-mile White Rim Road loops around and below the Island in the Sky mesa top and provides expansive views of the surrounding area. Bicycle trips usually take three to four days. Overnight and day-use permits are required.

Do I Need a Permit?

  • Day Use: If you’re taking a day trip on the White Rim, Elephant Hill, Lavender Canyon, or Peekaboo/Horse Canyon roads, you need a day-use permit.
  • Overnight: If you’re going on an overnight trip, you need an overnight permit.

During the spring and fall, demand for permits frequently exceeds the number available. If you plan to visit Canyonlands during peak season, especially to bike and camp along the White Rim Road, we recommend making reservations well in advance. You can reserve overnight permits up to four months in advance of the start of your trip. Day-use permits are available up to 24 hours in advance of your trip.

Mountain bike groups must travel single-file, remain on established roads, and camp in designated sites. There is no single-track riding in the park. We recommend a support vehicle for all multi-day bike trips: there are no water sources along most of the roads. Guided trips are available for many destinations within Canyonlands.

Electronic Bicycles (e-bikes)

On August 30, 2019 the National Park Service announced a new electric bicycle (e-bike) policy for national parks, expanding recreational opportunities and accessibility. The policy supports Secretary’s Order 3376, signed by U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt on August 29, 2019, that directs Department of the Interior (DOI) bureaus to create a clear and consistent e-bike policy on all federal lands managed by the Department.

Beginning October 1, 2019, visitors to Southeast Utah Group parks (Arches and Canyonlands national parks and Hovenweep and Natural Bridges national monuments) will be allowed to use e-bikes where traditional bicycles are allowed. Bicycles and e-bikes are allowed on paved and unpaved roads that are open to the public. Bicycles and e-bikes are not allowed on any trails in the parks.

There are no charging stations in the parks. Generators are not allowed in the backcountry. This change in e-bike policy applies to private and commercial use in the parks.

The National Park Service announcement and the agency’s new e-bike policy are available online at www.nps.gov/orgs/1207/ebikepolicy.htm.

Photography

Canyonlands is a paradise for photographers. Under conditions of constantly changing light, the varicolored landscape provides limitless photographic opportunities. Often, the difference between an average photograph and an exceptional photograph is good lighting. Low sun angles at sunrise and sunset can add brilliant color to the rock. Scattered clouds can also add depth to an image and a passing storm can provide extremely dramatic lighting.


Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park Camping

Island in the Sky District

Canyonlands National Park preserves 337,598 acres of colorful canyons, mesas, buttes, fins, arches, and spires in the heart of southeast Utah’s strikingly beautiful high desert. Water and gravity have been the prime architects of this land, sculpting layers of rock into a breathtakingly rugged landscape.

The Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park sits atop a 1,500 foot mesa and is, quite literally, an island in the sky. With views over 100 miles in any direction the resulting panoramas encompass thousands of square miles of ruggedly beautiful canyon country. With the Willow Flat Campground located within the park, along with BLM and state park campgrounds nearby, there’s plenty of camping to choose from.

Find your ideal campground below, or see the nearby hotels in Moab.

Green River Overlook in Canyonlands National Park

Camping In Canyonlands National Park

Key

#

Elevation

#

Sites

#

RV Length

#

Group Sites

Picnic Tables

Drinking Water

Willow Flat Campground

6000
12
28
 

Directions Turn on UT 313, approximately 10 miles north of Moab or 22 miles south of I-70. Follow the road 22 miles to the entrance to Canyonlands National Park – Island in the Sky district. Continue on the park road approximately 7 miles. Make a right turn toward Upheaval Dome, and follow signs to the campground. Get Directions

   

Fees $15 per night

The Willow Flat Campground is only a short walk from one of the most sublime viewpoints in Canyonlands National Park, the Green River Overlook. One of the most photographed vistas in the park, the Green River Overlook provides a stunning view of the meandering path the Green River has carved into the landscape over countless millennia. Because it is the only campground located within the Island in the Sky District, sites fill quickly spring through fall.

Facilities and Amenities

  • 12 sites
  • Toilets
  • Campfire rings
  • Paved roads & parking pads
  • Pets allowed

Not Available at Willow Flat Campground

  • Reservations
  • RV Hookups
  • Dump Station
  • Shower Facilities
Willow Flat Campground

Camping Near Canyonlands National Park

Is the Willow Flat Campground full? Prefer to have a campsite reservation? There are several other campgrounds just outside of the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park that may be just what you’re looking for. Reserve your site at a state park, explore the BLM camping options shown below, or find a hotel near the park.

Campgrounds at Dead Horse Point State Park

Located just 10 miles from the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park is Dead Horse Point State Park. Towering 2,000 feet directly above the Colorado River, Dead Horse Point State Park provides a breathtaking panorama of the sculptured pinnacles and buttes of Canyonlands National Park. This park is one of Utah’s most spectacular state parks and, best of all, you can make reservations at either of its two campgrounds.

Wingate Campground at Dead Horse Point State Park

6000
31
56
 

Directions Turn on UT 313, approximately 10 miles north of Moab or 22 miles south of I-70. Follow the road 14.6 miles and turn left at the sign for Dead Horse Point State Park. Continue 4.5 miles to the park entrance station. Follow signs to the campground. Get Directions

   

Campsite Reservations Campsites tend to be reserved weeks ahead of time during busy times, so book early. Reserve Your Campsite Today

   

Fees $35-$40 per night

New in 2018, the Wingate Campground sits atop the mesa with far reaching views to the area’s mountain ranges and deep canyons. This campground contains thirty-one (31) campsites, twenty (20) of which have electrical hookups that support RV or tent campers while eleven (11) are hike-in tent only sites. All sites have fire-pits, picnic tables under shade shelters, and access to bathrooms with running water and dish washing sinks. RV sites will accommodate vehicles up to 56′ and there is a dump station at the entrance to the campground.

Facilities and Amenities

  • 31 sites
  • Restroom facilities
  • Campfire rings
  • Paved roads & parking pads
  • Pets allowed
  • Electrical Hookups

Not Available at Dead Horse Point Campground

  • Water Hookups
  • Dump Station
  • Shower Facilities
Dead Horse Point State Park Campground

Kayenta Campground at Dead Horse Point State Park

6000
21
56
 

Directions Turn on UT 313, approximately 10 miles north of Moab or 22 miles south of I-70. Follow the road 14.6 miles and turn left at the sign for Dead Horse Point State Park. Continue 4.5 miles to the park entrance station. Follow signs to the campground. Get Directions

   

Campsite Reservations Campsites tend to be reserved weeks ahead of time during busy times, so book early. Reserve Your Campsite Today

   

Fees $35-$40 per night

Nestled within a grove of junipers, the Kayenta Campground at Dead Horse Point State Park offers a peaceful, shaded respite from the surrounding desert. All 21 campsites offer lighted shade structures, picnic tables, fire rings, and tent pads. All sites are also equipped with RV electrical hookups (20/30/50 AMP). Modern restroom facilities are available, and hiking trails lead directly from the campground to various points of interest within the park including the West Rim Trail, East Rim Trail, or the Visitor Center.

Facilities and Amenities

Not Available at Dead Horse Point Campground

Dead Horse Point State Park Campground

Horsethief BLM Campground

5800
83
40
 

Directions From the center of Moab (at Center and Main) head north on Hwy. 191 to Hwy. 313. Turn left (west) on Hwy 313 and drive 12 miles. You will see the campground sign on the right. Turn on the gravel road and you will see the campground entrance on your left. Get Directions

   

Fees $20 per night

Less than 10 miles from the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands is a large BLM campground named Horsethief Campground. Campsites are tucked in the pygmy pinyon-juniper forest on the mesas above Moab, yet offer great views. Individual sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Facilities and Amenities

Not Available at Horsethief Campground

Horsethief Campground

Keep Planning

If you still haven’t found what you’re looking for, Moab has many additional campgrounds to chose from.

There are many Bureau of Land Management (BLM) campgrounds on the public lands surrounding Moab, although most fill daily during mid-March-May and Sept-October. Please note that individual campsites are available on a first come – first served basis only. No reservations are accepted. Plan to arrive earlier in the day. BLM campgrounds are located in extremely scenic locations and are very well-maintained. Many BLM campsites are suitable for RVs, although hook-ups are not available. (Some campgrounds have reservable group sites through recreation.gov)

Commercial (privately owned) campgrounds generally have many conveniences such as showers, running water, RV hook-ups, flush toilets, and more. They also generally accept reservations.

Campgrounds within the State Parks, National Parks & National Forests generally have less amenities than privately owned campgrounds (no showers, etc.), however they are often located within exceptionally scenic areas.

BLM Campgrounds | National Park & Forest Service Campgrounds | Privately Owned Campgrounds


For most of us Moab conjures thoughts of warm days spent hiking, biking, floating, or simply basking in the sun perched on a red rock. It’s true, the summer months are the most popular time of year to visit; but the city is brimming with things to do year-round. New adventures ebb and flow with the desert’s long hot summer days and mild, incredible winter months. Explore the best aspects of each season below to discover the best time for your Moab vacation. Red desert flowers

In the Spring | March – May

As days get longer and the red rock starts to warm, travelers from around the world visit Moab to shake off a cold winter. Midday temperatures generally reach 70ºF during the springtime, making it a perfect time of year to get outside! The trails come alive with wallflowers, paintbrush, and juniper, so have your camera at the ready for some incredible desert wildflower photography. If it’s your first time visiting Moab (or far from it), be sure to pack your hiking boots. Trails like the Delicate Arch, Grandstaff Canyon, Corona Arch, and Fisher Towers Trails should be on every hiker’s to-do list. Mountain bikers can’t miss the famed Slickrock Trail or the Moab Brand trail network, both of which are usually in great condition come springtime. To add a little more adrenaline to your trip, schedule a four-wheeling tour with one of the guides in town.

Local’s Tips

In the Summer | June – August

During the hotter summer months people tend to head for the Colorado River or the La Sal Mountains to cool down. Temperatures can reach over 100ºF, so it’s best to get the day’s activity in during the early morning or in the early evening. Plus, you’ll want to save some energy to stay up and gaze into Moab’s starry night skies, which are some of the darkest anywhere in the world. Long summer days lend themselves well to packed itineraries; just make sure you have plenty of water and sun protection. Escape the heat by camping at Warner Lake Campground in the La Sal Mountains, where less-traveled trails are within easy access. Or, head down to the Colorado River for some kayaking, white water rafting, or a relaxing moonlight cruise.

Local’s Tips

In the Fall | September – November

Once the fall months come around Moab is in full bloom. The river has had some time to warm, the higher elevation trails are thawed, and temperatures drop back down to a comfortable 70ºF. Fall is a great time of year to hit the trails, visit the national parks, and camp along the Colorado River under Moab Canyon’s commanding red cliffs. Plus, up in the Manti-La Sal National Forest the trees start to take on their vivid fall colors. For an experience you can’t find any other time of year, be sure to take a scenic drive on the La Sal Mountain Loop Road. It’s 63 miles in length, and should take nearly two hours to drive. Pack a picnic and take your time, the forest is incredible during the fall months. It’s also a perfect time for hikers to take to the trails, and mountain bikers can generally access all of the popular Whole Enchilada Trail, along with other higher elevation trails.

Local’s Tips

In the Winter | December – February

Winter in Moab may be one of the city’s best kept secrets. The crowds dissipate and the red rock looks spectacular under snow. With temperatures between 40ºF and 50ºF, you’ll find the crisp air invigorating as you ramble down a hiking trail that you’ll practically have all to yourself. Winter weather travelers can’t miss Onion Creek, which is roughly 20 miles up Moab Canyon on Highway 128. Take the drive (a four-wheel drive vehicle is recommended) for unbeatable photo opportunities of snow capped red rock outcroppings and a handful of great day hikes. Afterwards, spend some time exploring both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks; it’s a great time to see the most popular landmarks without the crowds.

Local’s Tips

To start planning your next Moab vacation, learn more about monthly weather averages or explore places to stay while you’re here.


Businesses Open in Winter

Look at all there is to do in Moab in the winter!

There is a lot to do when you visit Moab in the winter. This is a comprehensive list of all the businesses that are open during the winter season.

Note: Use http://udottraffic.utah.gov to see real-time road conditions across Utah.

Arches and Canyonlands National Parks

Tours

Please note tour departures based on conditions. Businesses have alternative itineraries and reasonable cancellation policies in winter.

Restaurants

Looking for a menu? Check out the Moab Menu Guide.

Shops

Accommodation Closures

Accommodations that are closed for the winter. All others are open year round.

Campground Closures

Campgrounds that are closed for the winter. All others are open year-round.


Hike the National Parks

No matter the season, no three-day weekend trip to Moab is complete without visiting at least one of the two stunning nearby national parks, Arches and Canyonlands. The parks are open year-round, and while it is possible to take in the wonder of the wild attractions simply from your car window, you should opt to hike one of the many renowned trails, like to iconic Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, or through the winding paths of the Windows Area. You’ll enjoy cooler hiking weather, fewer crowds, and the feeling that you have a national park all to yourself (and, you really might).

Visit Dead Horse Point State Park

While Arches and Canyonlands deservedly stand out when it comes to must-see Moab destinations, Dead Horse Point State Park, located near Canyonlands, shouldn’t be overlooked. You should especially consider visiting the park if you are bringing your four-legged friend, as it is largely a dog-friendly destination. Dead Horse Point sits on a high plateau and features a vast canyon rim where you can sightsee for miles. At night, the state park transforms into a certified International Dark Sky Park, where you’ll more than likely lose track of counting shooting stars. It’s also worth taking advantage of park-staff-guided events like full moon hikes and star parties that happen on a semi-regular basis, pending weather and other restrictions (be sure to check at the visitor center.)

Arches National Park HikerFamily Hiking in Arches National Park

Enjoy a (Mostly) Leisurely River Trip

Colorado River ActivitiesRafting and Kayaking on the Colorado River Near Moab

The Colorado and Green rivers are responsible for helping carve the winding landscapes that define the Moab terrain, and there’s no better way to see the sculpted walls of the Colorado Plateau than up close and personal in a river raft. While rafting trips on the Green River typically close by the fall season, guided trips on the Colorado don’t end until water levels get too low in late October. Fall is the preferred time of year for many three-day weekend visitors to take a trip down the storied river, as the later months offer a mellower experience without the extreme thrills that often come with tumultuous summertime rapids. Enjoy a rafting trip at a (relatively) leisure pace, giving you more time to admire the red rock pinnacles, wildlife, and petroglyphs visible near the river’s edge. Rafting tours vary in length from a few hours long to multi-day trips.

Cover More Ground on a Mountain Bike

There’s a lot to see in Moab’s immense wilderness, and renting a mountain bike (at any number of outdoor retailers on Main Street) might be the solution to exploring as much backcountry as possible on your weekend getaway. Seasoned mountain bikers come from far and wide to enjoy Moab’s endless trail systems, but mountain biking is accessible for people of all experience levels, particularly when visiting with such pleasant temperatures. Are you traveling with a group with varying mountain biking experience? Check out the Bar-M Loop, a scenic, accessible beginner trail that’s open year-round and connects to several more advanced trails, should the experienced biker in the group wish to break off to conquer more technical terrain.

Mountain Biking near MoabMountain Biking on the Klondike Bluff Trail near Moab

Follow the Cowboys

Saddle up! Get off the beaten path and step back in time to experience the spiraling towers and river valleys of Moab’s sandstone vistas on a horseback riding tour – taking the same paths as some of history’s most (in)famous cowboys. Professional wranglers will guide you through these scenic, open-range trails, which meander through hallowed Western ground and take you everywhere from the vast Castle Rock and Castle Valley, to Fisher Towers, to the banks and creeks of the Colorado River. There are a range of tours available, from 90-minute rides to half-day adventures. It might be difficult to take your eyes off the infinite landscape as your guide points out historic desert hideouts, along with more contemporary Western movie sets. Most tours run through November—note that fall temperatures can fluctuate significantly, so be prepared with layering options (flannels and cowboy hats not provided.)

To find out more visit discovermoab.com.

Horseback Riding in Moab