Top 6 Things to See in Canyonlands National Park

By Redtail Air Adventures

Canyonlands is the largest national park in the state of Utah, and worth a visit if you have the time! There are four ‘districts’ in Canyonlands that are divided by the Colorado and Green Rivers- the Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze, and the Green and Colorado rivers themselves. Canyonlands has a ton to offer—backpacking, day hiking, rock climbing, or taking a scenic flight tour of Canyonlands National Park are just a few of the options. With over 300,000 acres to explore, it would take weeks or months to take it all in. If you have a day or a weekend to visit the park, it is still worth a trip to see the most iconic areas of the park!

It is fairly straightforward to navigate to Canyonlands National Park. Most people that live far away choose to fly into Canyonlands Field, Grand Junction Regional Airport, or Salt Lake City International Airport and rent a car from there. If you are driving and plan to visit multiple districts, it is important to keep in mind that the districts are not connected by roads and you will need to visit them separately. From Moab, driving on US 191 north will lead you to Island in the Sky via UT 313, or to The Needles via UT 211 driving on US 191 south. 

1. Green River Overlook

From the Ground

What to Expect: The Green River Overlook is well-worth a stop! Located in the northern part of Canyonlands National Park, this overlook offers beautiful sights and sounds of the very same river that formed the park over the last millions of years.

How to Get There: This overlook is located in the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands. If you are driving, you can get to it by driving to the end of the paved road past the Willows Campground. It is easy to access, and won’t cost you an entire day to see.

How Long to Hike to See the Sight: Hiking to The Green River Overlook is easy, and you do not need to be an experienced hiker to enjoy the view. The trail is only a 0.2 mile long out-and-back. Be sure to bring your camera along for unforgettable views!

From the Air

What to Expect: Seeing an overview of the Green River from an airplane is a spectacular experience. You will get to see the larger picture of just how this river formed and changed the surrounding landscape!

How Long the Flight Will Take: Flying over the Green River will take less than an hour, and your tour guide can give you all kinds of interesting information about the hydrology and geology, and how they are intertwined here unlike anywhere else in the world!


Those who have chosen to take a tour over the Green River with Redtail Air Adventures have memories to last a lifetime. Seeing the Green River from the air allows you to escape the heat and observe the many twists and turns of this iconic river from a bird’s eye view.

Green River overlook from Canyonlands National Park

Green River Overlook

2. Upheaval Dome

From the Ground

What to Expect: Upheaval Dome is an incredible and mysterious feature in Canyonlands National Park! While its origins are unknown to this day, many believe that it is an impact structure- it appears as if it’s crater shape was formed by a meteor striking the earth millions of years ago. Others hypothesize that it formed from a salt dome. This theory suggests that uneven pressures on sediment and salt resulted in this fascinating bulge in the earth.

How to Get There: 6.5 miles past the Island in the Sky visitor center, take a right turn onto Upheaval Dome Road. The trailhead for the hike is located just at the end of the road (about 5 miles).

How Long to Hike to See the Sight: To get to the Upheaval Dome on foot, you can take a hike on the Crater View Trail. This trail is rated as moderate, and is 1.7 miles out-and-back in length. The elevation gain on this hike is 321 feet, so it is not too strenuous. This trail gives you a good view of this perplexing feature!

From the Air

What to Expect: When you view Upheaval Dome from an airplane flying directly above, you can really take in the variety of rock layers that form the bizarre bull’s-eye shape in the ground! The Upheaval Dome is nearly circular in shape and 3.5 miles in diameter. With its unique history and puzzling past, taking in this view from an airplane will allow you to form your own ideas about how this perplexing feature came to be.

How Long the Flight Will Take: While seeing the entire Upheaval Dome from the ground is difficult and time-consuming, seeing it from the air is very efficient and worth-while! You can get a real feel for the topography in and around Upheaval Dome, and far greater insight into the possible geological events of the past. Seeing this feature makes you feel as if you are looking back at an event that occurred millions of years ago!


People that have the rare opportunity of seeing Upheaval Dome from an airplane are simply awe-struck by the experience. Regardless of how it was formed, Upheaval Dome is a truly wondrous feature that will leave you feeling puzzled and deep in thought!

Upheaval Done from the sky

Upheaval Dome from the Air

Upheaval dome from the ground

Upheaval Dome from the Ground

3. Grand View Point

From the Ground

What to Expect: When visiting Grand View Point, expect to be blown away by the gorgeous, breathtaking views! The trail takes you right alongside the edge of the canyon, but its wide berth allows even those who are afraid of heights to keep a safe distance.

How to Get There: This stop is in the southernmost area of the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park. From the visitor center, you can reach the trailhead by driving 12 miles south on the paved road. The road will come to an end at Grand View Overlook, where you will find the trailhead.

How Long to Hike to See the Sight: The Grand View Point Trail is only 1.8 miles long, round-trip! Only gaining 173 feet in elevation and following a heavily trafficked trail, this trek is rated as easy and can be done by folks of all skill levels.

From the Air

What to Expect: From the comfort of an airplane, you can get an incredible vantage point to see Grand View Point from the air and all of the amazing features there! You will get incomparable views of the incredible and complex network of canyons, trenches, and mesas in the area.

How Long the Flight Will Take: When hiking the area, you may spend hours and still not get to see everything you’d like to. This is where taking a flight tour really comes in handy! Grand View Point covers a large area of land, and has great diversity in the landscape. It is definitely best seen from the air, and will only take 1-2 hours out of your busy itinerary.


Those fortunate enough to have witnessed Grand View Point with us here at Redtail Air Adventures have walked away overjoyed with the experience they received. Seeing the diversity of the landscape from above will leave you awe-struck about our beautiful planet- and the geologic features it holds! Grand View Point is one that you won’t want to miss out on!

Canyonlands Grand View Point from the air

Grand View Point from the Air

4. Druid Arch

From the Ground

What to Expect: Druid Arch is an incredibly massive natural arch that is very unique and spectacular in its structure. It is one of the most incredible arches that you can see in Canyonlands National Park, and it is located in the eastern side of the park within the Needles District. Many people compare its image and shape to that of Stonehenge!

How to Get There: In order to hike to see Druid Arch, you need to start out at Elephant Hill Trailhead which is located 6.3 miles from the Needles District visitor’s center. From the visitor’s center, keep left onto Squaw Flat Campground Road, and follow the signs to Elephant Hill. Here you will find a parking lot at the trailhead, pit toilets, and trash cans.

How Long to Hike to See the Sight: The hike out to see Druid Arch is a fairly strenuous, 10.8 mile round trip trek. It takes most people about 5-7 hours to complete, including stops to take in the views and snap some pictures! While this hike is a gorgeous one that you don’t want to miss out on, you will need to set aside the better part of a day in order to hike it.

From the Air

What to Expect: On a Canyonlands airplane tour, you will not only get to behold the incredible Druid Arch, but you will also catch amazing views of the needles, canyons, winding riverbeds, and looming mountain ranges in the distance. There is so much to see in the Needles District, and getting a view from the air is one great way to experience it all!

How Long the Flight Will Take: While hiking out to see Druid Arch can easily take a full day and all of your energy, a flight tour will allow you to see it alongside many more sights! From the air, you get a unique vantage point- and can see it all in only an hour’s time!


Those who have witnessed Druid Arch in all of its glory have made memories and taken incredible photographs that will last a lifetime. It has been described as “breathtaking” and “amazing” by many visitors over the years, and highly recommended by all!

Beautiful view of the Druid Arch in Canyonlands

Druid Arch seen from the ground

5. Angel Arch

From the Ground

What to Expect: Angel Arch is located in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. Surrounded by expansive sandstone canyons, this arch can be found pretty far off the beaten path. It is considered to be one of the most strenuous hikes within the Needles District!

How to Get There: You can hike to Angel Arch via Squaw Flats or Cave Spring. Both routes are about equidistance, but the trail from Squaw Flats is known to be the more scenic of the two routes. The trailhead that takes you to Angel Arch via Squaw Flats is located at the Needles Campground. To get there, take a right on Elephant Hill Road just past the visitor’s center and follow the signs to the Needles District Campground.

How Long to Hike to See the Sight: In order to see Angel Arch on foot, you’ll need to embark on quite an excursion! This is a difficult 26.8 mile round-trip hike that many people choose to backpack over 2 or 3 days. To do it in a single day, this hike will take around 13 hours to complete. While it is very difficult, this hike is also incredibly rewarding!

From the Air

What to Expect: If you have limited time to see everything in Canyonlands National Park, you might not want to dedicate an entire day to see one arch on foot. While the hike itself is gorgeous, it is time-consuming! From the air, you can see breathtaking views of the rugged terrain and epic red rocks from the comfort of an airplane seat.

How Long the Flight Will Take: Angel Arch is an incredible feature located in Canyonlands National Park. While hiking there is sure to take up at least an entire day, taking a flight tour with Redtail Air Adventures will allow you to see this beauty, and much more, in only about an hour’s time. You’ll have the rest of your day to see even more of the park!


People that visit Angel Arch appreciate it for its beauty and remoteness. Not many visitors to Canyonlands National Park will venture out far enough to see this amazing feature, so it is pretty incredible to be one of the few who get to see it!

Angel Arch from the ground at Canyonlands

Angel Arch from the ground

6. The Needles

From the Ground

What to Expect: The Needles are located in the southeastern part of Canyonlands National Park. As the name suggests, they are located in the Needles District! The trademark feature that dominates this area of the park are the hundreds of colorful sandstone spires.

How to Get There: The Needles are located 40 miles south of Moab, off of the US 191. Be sure to take UT 211 from the 191, which will lead you right to the Needles District of the park. You can stop at the visitor’s center to check out exhibits, get any maps you might need, or obtain permits.

How Long to Hike to See the Sight: Hiking a trail called the Chesler Park Loop is the best option to get wonderful close-up views of the Needles. The trail is rated as moderate to strenuous, and is 10.7 miles in distance. The loop starts at Elephant Hill Trailhead just a few miles’ drive from the visitor’s center.

From the Air

What to Expect: Seeing the Needles from the ground is one thing, but you will have a totally different experience seeing them on a flight tour! These unique spires that make up the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park formed over millions of years of weathering and erosion of the sandstone, but they appear to be growing straight out of the ground!

How Long the Flight Will Take: A flight tour over the Needles District in Canyonlands National Park will take approximately an hour. You will get unique views of incredible features that don’t exist anywhere else in the world! The friendly and experienced tour guides at Redtail Air Adventures can tell you everything you need to know about this beautiful area of the park.


The Needles District of Canyonlands National Park has been described as a “truly special place” by many visitors. It boasts incredible landscapes that can’t be found anywhere else in the world!

Needles District at Sunrise

The Needles District at sunrise

Explore Canyonlands With Redtail Air!

Canyonlands National Park is such a beautiful place and one that you should visit. With its vast vistas and deep canyons, Canyonlands is a park you can’t miss.

While hiking and driving through Canyonlands National Park is a wonderful experience in itself, you will never be able to take in all of the sights. If you are pressed for time on your day trip or weekend getaway to Canyonlands, booking a flight with Redtail Air will allow you to get the richest experience possible out of your short stay. 

See Canyonlands National Park from the Sky!

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