One Day In Canyonlands National Park
One Day In Canyonlands National Park
Explore the best of the Island in the Sky district.

One day in canyonlands national park

The park is divided into four districts, but the easiest one for the general public to explore is Island in the Sky. We did not partake in any of the lengthy hikes Canyonlands has to offer, but we did spend about half of the day checking out most of the viewpoints and exploring some of the shorter hikes.

Sunrise At Mesa Arch


We woke up bright and early for sunrise at Mesa Arch. This is one of the most popular things to do at Canyonlands NP, so if you want a parking spot and a good view, be sure to arrive as early as possible. We arrived about 30 minutes before sunrise and had to squeeze between people to get photos of the incredible view through the arch. Parking was also limited by that time of the morning. Some of the photographers we spoke to had been there an hour or more before us. The crowds take away from the experience somewhat, but there is a reason it’s such a popular sunrise spot. It was absolutely beautiful, and I would say it’s worth dealing with the quantity of people to witness the breathtaking experience!


Everyone left immediately after the sun came into view, but I thought the views continued to deliver!


Upheaval Dome


The hike to Upheaval Dome was one of my favorite things we did in the park. The crater is a geological mystery, making it even more exciting to witness in person. The hike there was all up-hill but was only 0.3 miles. In other words, a great reward if you're willing to put in a little bit of effort. We only went to the first viewpoint, but I've read that the second viewpoint is even better if you're willing to scramble on some of the rocks to get there. I enjoyed viewing something quite different from other hikes we have done (even compared to craters we have seen in other parks).

Grand View Point Overlook/Hike


This is an easy hike (1 mile each way), and at the end you are rewarded with views of the canyon on the west side that you couldn't see from the parking lot.

Shafer Canyon Overlook

This overlook is near the Visitor Center and is well worth the stop. It gives you a good look into the canyon as well as an awesome view of the road that people use to drive into the canyon using 4x4 vehicles.

Green River Overlook


This overlook was beautiful and well worth a stop! No hiking was necessary to get to the viewpoint, just a short walk on a paved sidewalk.


  • Sunrise at Mesa Arch
  • Grand Viewpoint Overlook Hike
  • Green River Overlook
  • Lunch
  • Upheaval Dome Hike
  • Shafer Canyon Overlook

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