National Parks in US · Travel · Vacations

Canyonlands National Park: Ultimate Off-roading!

If you read my recent blog post on Arches National Park, I had mentioned about our visit to Canyonlands National Park in Utah on that trip and a blog entry, so here it is 🙂 We had decided to spend an entire day at Canyonlands. Though initially, I was not sure if it was going to be worth spending the whole day, since I was more interested in Arches rather than viewing canyons and sitting  in a car driving over unpaved path full of rocks, sand and gravel in to the valley. In case you are wondering what am I blabbering about, the plan for the day was to drive (read OFF-ROAD) our rented All-Wheel-Drive Hummer on the famous White Rim trail and stop by at different vistas.

If you are into off-roading this is THE place to visit. I did not have a clue as to what the term “off-roading” meant a few years back until a few of my friends introduced me to its concept. I am still not a fan, and might just chicken out if I were told to sit in an off-road vehicle again and drive on unpaved roads, but my first “actual” off-road experience at Canyonlands National Park was pretty amazing.

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We started the day with a visit to the visitor center. I believe there was a ranger talk about wild life found in the park, and I vaguely remember the ranger showing jaw bones of coyotes and mountain cats. But, we left the talk half way, since it was going to be a long day ahead of us. Our first stop was at a grand vista of Merrimac and Monitor Rocks. These rocks are named after ships that were involved in a war, each attacked the other and both sank! Fun fact hnnn!!! Anyways, our next stop was the Shafer trail overlook. The trails do look intimidating and if its your first time in a 4X4 driving on these kind of roads, it can be nerve-racking. The White Rim trail is over 100 miles, so it would take over 2 days if you plan to off-road the entire loop. Of course, you would have to camp in between and get a permit beforehand.

So, we start off-roading down the white rim trail and here is a brief account of that “rocky” journey. Our first stop was at the Colorado River overlook. The Colorado River overlook on the White Rim trail provides a nice view of the river that carves the canyons of the park along with the Green river. Our next stop was at the Musselman Arch which is more of a bridge than an arch. It was scary walking on this arch since it appears as a narrow bridge suspended in the valley. Next we headed to view the Mesa Arch. You can view the canyons through this arch. We had numerous other stops along our off-road trail including the Grand-View point which provides breathtaking views of the La Sal Mountains, the white rim trail itself, the Needles district and the confluence of Green and Colorado rivers, but the star attraction was the drive. I don’t quite remember how many miles we drove to cover these vistas, but I am assuming about 10 miles or may be even less. It was almost evening, so we decided to drive back up. It took us less time to drive back to the start of the trail.

After returning from the White rim trail, we headed to view petroglyphs of Indian writings. And just when I thought that I was done off-roading for the day, we heard about the “Poison Spider” trail which is the ultimate off-road for bikes and jeeps. Yess..we put on our seat belts and were off of the spidy trail. We only drove half the trail, but this one was far more adventurous than the white rim. At one point I thought we might get a flat tire since the trail had more rocks and less sand unlike the white rim trail. The off-road on the spider trail brought a perfect end to our day. I am glad we gave Canyonlands one whole day!

I highly recommend all adventure freaks to visit this place. A 4 wheel drive and a little bit of courage is all you need for an ultimate off-road adventure @ Canyonlands.


5 thoughts on “Canyonlands National Park: Ultimate Off-roading!

  1. I highly recommend all adventure freaks to visit this place. A 4 wheel drive and a little bit of courage is all you need for an ultimate off-road adventure..!!!

    Don’t you think, you said this a little late????


    1. Thanks Piyush…I think late spring, early summer or early fall should be a good time to visit arches/canyonlands or any Utah parks..Summers can be a bit too hot! If you are planning on doing lots of hiking and off-roading, go when the days are longer so that you have more time to see stuff!


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