Canyonlands National Park is epic nature beauty at its finest! It preserves a natural beauty like no other in its almost 338,000 acres of canyons, mesas, arches, and buttes. And to be honest, all of the overlooks in Island in the Sky are simply breathtaking!
Another key point about Canyonlands is that the park is divided into four districts: Island in the Sky, The Needles, The Maze, and The Rivers. However, none of the districts are connected or linked by any roads. For this reason, it will take you anywhere from 2-6 hours to drive from one district to the other.
🏜 Districts in Canyonlands National Park: Island in the Sky is the closest to Moab and it’s the most visited one of all. The Needles is great for backcountry hiking and backpacking and requires plenty of 4-wheel driving. The Maze is the most remote district and it requires a lot of time (days). I wouldn’t recommend this district to non-experienced backpackers. The Rivers is the district that divides the other three and it’s great for boating and water activities.
As can be seen, Canyonlands–known as a high desert, is filled with incredible panoramic views. Additionally, this park is also well known for its adventurous backcountry roads. So, if you’re traveling to Moab and Arches National Park, then adding Island in the Sky in Canyonlands is an absolute must.
In fact, Canyonlands National Park is located within a 40-minute drive from Moab. So while you’re there, make this a definite stop and add it to your Utah road trip itinerary!
Go Prepared: Checklist for Hiking the Overlooks in Island in the Sky
The things you need for hiking in Canyonlands are pretty much the same as with any other hike. However, being that it’s a desert with full sun exposure and hardly any shade, some things are worth repeating.
- Water. I recommend taking at least 4 liters (1 gal) of water per day. Keep in mind that even on cold temperatures, it’s easy to get hydrated in the high desert. With this in mind, even if you only visit the overlooks and do minimal hiking, it’s easy to get hydrated. You can refill your water at the Island in the Sky visitor center.
- Sunscreen. Like I said, sun exposure is intense! Bring sunscreen and reapply often.
- Weather. Summers are intense and winters are very cold. Therefore, dress accordingly and layer up. During the summer, I recommend long-sleeve shirts like this Columbia UPF shirt that I am wearing in these photos. For reference, summer temperatures range from 80 to 100º F, spring and fall 60 to 80º F, and 30 to 50º F in the winter.
- Shoes. Being that the surface is both sandy and rocky, I recommend only hiking shoes or hiking sandals–like these Viakix outdoor sandals that I am wearing.
Overlooks in Island in the Sky that You Don’t Want to Miss
How much time do you need to see Canyonlands? Well, as for the Island in the Sky district, if you want to see all of the overlooks and some hikes, you’ll need at least 8 hours in this section of the park. Here are my favorite overlooks in this district.
1. Shafer Canyon Overlook – one of my favorite overlooks in Island in the Sky
This overlook has an incredible view and you can see the backcountry roads as part of the landscape. As a matter of fact, I personally think Shafer Canyon Overlook is one of the best overlooks in Island in the Sky for its stunning scenery.
2. Green River Overlook
The great thing about the Green River Overlook is that you can actually see a small part of The Maze district. In fact, it’s actually the Green River that divides the Island in the Sky district from The Maze district.
Apart from this, you can also see the Orange Cliffs in the background, the Ekker Butte, and the Elaterite Butte which is a landmark in The Maze District.
3. Buck Canyon Overlook
Here, I was surrounded by the beautiful desert landscape and panoramic views. In Buck Canyon Overlook I felt an incredible sense of peace and it was just perfect! Additionally, it’s the overlook where you can appreciate the details of the landscape the most.
4. Orange Cliffs Overlook
Out of all the overlooks that I visited in Island in the Sky, I would say that the Orange Cliffs Overlook is the one with the most contrasting views. Everything feels different in this one. The rocks and the cliffs are just magnificent!
5. Grand View Point Overlook
This overlook is a must and you really don’t want to miss it! Regardless, I have to say that it was the one overlook where I experienced the most crowds of all. The beauty and the impressive vistas from Grand View Point Overlook really do take your breath away.
Furthermore, from this overlook, you can actually start the 2-mile out-and-back trail through the canyon edge.Check out the 6 Best Overlooks in Island in the Sky at Canyonlands National Park! #canyonlands #utah @canyonlandsNPS Click To Tweet
6. Candlestick Tower Overlook
For this one, you can actually stay in your vehicle and view it from there. But of course, I recommend the opposite. It’s a very nice view of what appears to be a candlestick. Hence, the name Candlestick Tower.
Overall, the Island in the Sky district in Canyonlands National Park is one epic adventure! Out of all the Mighty Five National Parks in Utah, I have to admit this is the one where I was able to get some of my favorite photos.
Partly, it was because it wasn’t crowded and I was able to take my time. But most of all, it was simply because the beauty of these lands is just perfectly amazing.
Which of these overlooks in Island in the Sky is your favorite? Let me know in the comments!
Like it? Pin it! Share it!
All products and services featured on Next Stop Adventures are hand-selected, and all opinions expressed are our own. However, we may earn an advertising or affiliate commission if you make a purchase through any of the links featured on this site, at no extra cost to you.