Canyonlands National Park

• Hiking in Canyonlands Photos and Video • NPS Website Trail Map

 

Island in the Sky District    
     
 False Kiva (dayhike)   Moderate 3.6 miles
Synopsis: This hike is a bit challenging but in the end quite rewarding - especially if, like me, you've seen and been enchanted by some of the iconic photographs taken at the site. It begins on a gentle descent through the mesa's high desert habitat, but quickly drops into a wash and from there on involves quite a bit of scree and talus negotiation, both up and down, sometimes along steep drop-offs. The Kiva location itself is fascinating, and the view is spectacular.
     
 Grandview Rim (dayhike)   Easy 1.8 miles
Synopsis: A fun, fairly level trail along the mesa rim. It's a walk full of eye candy; from the expansive canyon vistas to the amazing and colorful geology at your feet.
     
 Mesa Arch (P.O.I.)   Easy 0.9 miles
Synopsis: A short ramble that takes you through some beautiful high-desert redrock and pinyon habitat to an impressive arch flanked by stone walls boasting spectacular canyon views.
     
Labyrinth Canyon (Green River)    
     
(The order of the following Trip Guides is not alphabetical, but follows the sequence of travel along the river.)
 
 Ruby Ranch to Trin Alcove Bend (yakpack)   Easy: Flat 7.4 miles
Synopsis: A lovely flatwater paddle through the beginning of Labyrinth Canyon. This section of the river introduces the paddler to the red rocks and steep cliffs that will only become more spectacular as one progresses along the length of the canyon. Ending with a break at Trin Alcove Bend, where there is the option to hike up Three Canyon.
     
 Trin Alcove Bend to mile 84 (yakpack) Easy: Flat 0.8 miles
Synopsis: The further you paddle along Labyrinth Canyon the more spectacular the scenery gets. This stretch after Trin Alcove Bend continues the increasing height and drama of the rock cliffs that began a few miles earlier.
     
 Mile 84 to Tenmile Canyon (yakpack) Easy: Flat 3.1 miles 
Synopsis: This is a short paddle to an option for canyon hiking off the river. Perhaps due to low water conditions, we were unable to find a trail for exploring Tenmile Canyon, but took advantage of the stop for a snack. Of course, the river's amazing location makes taking a break virtually anywhere along its length a view opportunity.
     
 Tenmile Canyon to Launch Marguerite (yakpack) Easy: Flat 7.9 miles 
Synopsis: This section of the river offers some new diversions, including the first of some former uranium mine sites that can be visited by taking a short hike off of the river. Later on there appear carved inscriptions on the walls above the river, one of which - "Launch Marguerite" - comes with some colorful history. This stretch also allowed several opportunities for us to enjoy the comfort and recreation of sand and water on several broad sandbars. 
     
 Launch Marguerite to mile 70 (yakpack) Easy: Flat  4.2 miles 
Synopsis: A beautiful, peaceful and short paddle (depending upon conditions, of course) to a great camping spot - at least during low water. This sandbar sits in a spectacular location, looking downriver at the beginning of Bowknot Bend, the monoliths on either side of the Saddle at Bowknot Bend, and the huge, red cliffs flanking the river both up and down. The canyon is also wide enough at this location to allow great vision of the starry sky. Highly recommended spot. 
     
Mile 70 to Bowknot Bend Saddle landing (yakpack) Easy: Flat  0.6 miles 
Synopsis: This paddle is merely a short jaunt from the campsite at mile 70 to a landing location - a small, low area of rocks just in front of an open ledge - on the southern bank of the river. From here one locates the trail for hiking up to the Saddle ridge. 
     
Bowknot Bend Saddle (dayhike) Easy-Moderate 0.8 miles 
Synopsis: A must-do hike to a special place. The saddle on the ridge between the upriver and downriver flows of the Green at Bowknot Bend is a place of history, of appreciation of geology, and if nothing else, reflection. The climb up is short, if a bit steep, but the top offers a view unto itself, and a window into the processes of nature. 
     
Bowknot Bend Saddle to Twomile Canyon (yakpack) Easy-Mod.: Flat  9.1 miles 
Synopsis: This paddle is a fun turn around famous Bowknot Bend, seven miles of pulling your way around a huge knot in the river only to return to nearly the same spot - just a few hundred yards to the south on the opposite side of a ridge. It ends with a landing at Twomile Canyon, a spot where one can hike through a beautiful wash area to a stunning split opening up into two canyons.
     
Twomile Canyon (dayhike) Easy 1.4 miles
Synopsis: Twomile Canyon is a splendid canyon walk that is easily done as a short hike from the riverbank. Walking over the slickrock and through the wash between the canyon walls is a fun break from the river scenery. It's also only nine miles from the take-out at Mineral Bottom, so could be a campsite choice for those with a midday to afternoon take-out the next day. 
     
Twomile Canyon to mile 54 (yakpack) Easy: Flat 7.2 miles
Synopsis: Sculling along this stretch of the Green River exposes the paddler to some spectacular canyon scenery. Beginning with Twomile Canyon, then passing huge Horseshoe Canyon on the right soon after, and followed by Hell Roaring Canyon four miles later, this is a fabulous near-to-last section of the trip through Labyrinth Canyon. Try to leave enough time to be able to do some hiking in these inviting spots. 
     
Mile 54 to Mineral Bottom (yakpack) Easy: Flat  2 miles
Synopsis: From a mile 54 campsite, this is a leisurely float of the last two miles of the canyon and a chance to sit back and appreciate once again the monolithic beauty of the red cliffs.
     
Mineral Canyon (dayhike) Easy  1.9 miles 
Synopsis: Mineral Canyon is an open, broad canyon through which a rough road runs and makes for easy, level hiking. The walk is easy, pleasant and can be as long (if you have the time) or as short as needed. 
     
Needles District    
     
 Elephant Hill (dayhike)   Easy 2.2 miles
Synopsis: This trail actually goes about .4 miles farther than we were able to take it (and junctions with a loop trail beyond that). Time forced us to stop at just over a mile, but our stop was on top of a rise with a tremendous view toward the needles formations that give this part of the park its name. We're calling it an overlook, and although I would have loved to continue on with this spectacularly varied and colorful hike, the beauty of the view from that spot made it less of a disappointment when we had to turn back. Fabulous red rocks and a mesmerizing variety of shapes make this a must-return place.
       
     

All photos and video by Laura or Bob Camp unless otherwise indicated. Use without permission is not cool.