Preparation required

Some travel destinations are easy. You pack; you go. All is so simple when you arrive. Take this advice from us: do your homework before you take a trip to Canyonlands National Park (Needles and Maze Districts).

Canyonlands, located in southern Utah, is all about rocks…piles and piles of rocks in wonderful formations.

It’s a park with stunning scenery, but it’s also remote and has limited facilities. That’s where the homework comes in.

There is no lodge, and the camping facilities in the park are very limited and fill up quickly. We saw a woman banging on the door of the Visitor Center in the late afternoon wanting to get a camping site. The visitor center had closed at 4:30pm, and she was frantic. We told her what we had learned about the two campgrounds outside the park, which are also small and limited.   She raced off to snag one.

Many parks have small towns nearby, but not Canyonlands’ Needles or Maze Districts). So, there is no dashing outside the park to grab a restaurant meal and no internet cafes. This is a park that is best to arrive at fully provisioned.

Need a shower after a hot hike? None are available within the park.

Cave Spring was one of only 4 short hikes in the “easy” category in Canyonlands’ Needles District.   Those 4 hikes only add up to less than 4 miles.

Be warned that Canyonlands National Park is part of a large desert region on the Colorado. Plateau. It’s dry and dusty. Summertime temperatures can be 100 degrees F. Imagine doing a strenuous hike in those conditions? We think our trip in early May was already hot enough.

We saw very few birds in the park and only several deer. Lizards were everywhere.

Were we prepared? Well, we did have a reservation at a campground just outside the park. It was very hot and dusty, but the little campground store had showers and every day after a long hike we purchased popsicles for 50 cents each. We arrived at the park with a relatively full tank of gas and lots of food, so in that way, we were prepared for our four-day visit.

We hiked to an overlook with a sliver view of the Colorado River. No matter where we looked in Canyonlands, the beauty of the rock formations made us glad we’d traveled to get here.

Canyonlands National Park (Needles and Maze Districts) is well worth a visit, but careful pre-planning – or lack of it – could make or break this trip.


May 2017

About simpletravelourway

Beth and Joe enjoy simple travel.
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6 Responses to Preparation required

  1. Love the rock formations and we have certainly come across plenty of travelers who get a ‘fail’ when it comes to being prepared for a destinaion. That certainly sounds like a good test even for those who are prepared.

  2. Just put Canyonlands on our itinerary yesterday, so this is great information for us. Thanks!

  3. plaidcamper says:

    With the right preparation, this looks a beautiful area to explore! I love it all around the Colorado Plateau, but as teachers, until retirement, we visit in summer – not the easiest or best time to be there…
    Wonderful photographs!

  4. leggypeggy says:

    This is excellent advice. We’re planning to do the US national parks at some stage and this is a great reminder.

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