Located on the east side of the state, about five hours from Zion, Canyonlands National Park is the largest of Utah’s “mighty five”. That said, it’s also a pretty rugged park, and you’ll need a four-wheel-drive vehicle to access some of the more remote areas. There are however two sections of the park that are easily accessible in a standard car or truck — the Needles District and the Island in the Sky District. Both of these areas offer scenic drives on paved roads, with overlooks and viewpoints along the route.
- Don’t miss Newspaper Rock which is located just outside the park, about 12 miles from the intersection of Highway 191 and Highway 211. This massive rock contains an impressive collection of historic petroglyphs, which date back some 1,500 years. There’s a 30-foot long level trail next to the petroglyph panels that offers visitors an up-close-and-personal look at these Puebloan and Ute relics.
- For the best view in the park, head over to Grand View Point Overlook. From there, you’ll get a very accessible view of the La Sal Mountains and the Colorado River Canyon, and you can even catch a gander of The Needles District in the distance.
- Be sure and stop at Shafer Canyon Overlook on your way out of the park. Although there are also turnouts near this overlook on the way in, it’s best to catch the view as you head north- near where the final scene of Thelma and Louise was filmed. Impressive is an understatement.