Canyonlands National Park: The Southern Trails

Canyonlands is a park with borders.  There’s the Northern portion of Canyonlands which is mostly encapsulated by the White Rim Trail, a 100 mile route that is only fit for 4 wheel drive vehicles.  Then there is the Southern Canyonlands Park which is separated from the north by the confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers and features the Needles.  

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Ironically, both regions unfold stunning landscapes just outside their borders.  Rock formations that are no less spectacular than what can be found inside the park are not included within the park’s borders.  The Mineral Road is north of Canyonlands and was featured in this article.

This article focuses on the southern area of the park which can be reached via Route 211.  Route 191 starts at Interstate 70 in central Utah and runs south to within a mile of the Mexican border.  Moab is the largest outpost in Utah on 191.  Driving south features the La Sal Mountains on the left and the Abajo Mountains on the right.  Route 211 appears to be your everyday run of the mill access road until around mile 6 when it reveals huge rock formations and glorious valleys bathed in sunlight.  Any 1950’s western could have been filmed here, it is that picturesque.  

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This land was formed 300 million years ago.  Twenty-nine different times this area was flooded with sea water. But each time the water  drained back to the ocean, leaving a legacy of beauty and history.   

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The interior of the park is a collection of scenic views, camping sites and hiking trails.  Beware, some of the ravens can be aggressive.  I saw a couple of them sitting on people’s cars while they were hiking.  There are a few roads but much of the land is only accessible via four wheel drive or hiking.  The Needles is the prominent area of this section of the park.  Many boulders can be seen sitting atop rock formations exposed by millions of years of erosion.

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The southern portion of Canyonlands National Park is beautiful, but the grandiosity that exists just outside the park is the highlight of this journey.  I hope you will enjoy both areas.

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Have you visited Canyonlands National Park?  What was your experience like?

For more information about Canyonlands National Park, click the link below.