Camping in Canyonlands National Park

When I discovered there was a national park in Utah I had never been to, I was shocked…and determined to go see it. When Canyonlands announced a special viewing party for the eclipse that was all the reason I needed.

Canyonlands is divided into three districts, none of which are accessible by the other. Thank the Colorado and Green rivers for that. We went to the Needles district (the most southern) because it promised great hikes and a campground. This area is 1-1/2 hours southwest of Moab and there’s nothing between the two; so bring plenty of gas and ice. (FYI: The Maze district is the most remote wilderness in the lower 48 states and requires backcountry permits to really explore.)

There is a small campground and store just outside the park but you will pay in blood for gas, ice, and showers. DO NOT complain to the lady in charge about the cost of showers or she will escort you out (seriously).

Getting a spot in the park’s campground is little difficult during the busy seasons since they don’t take reservations. The ideal way is to get there the night before, camp just outside the park (there are plenty of places to camp if you don’t need bathrooms and such), and then drive in at seven in the morning (apparently 9:30 is too late). Find someone who’s leaving that day and ask if you can put your slip under theirs.

Be prepared to hike. This park is not some drive-by you do on a Sunday afternoon. The best scenery takes some work to get to. The shortest trails started around 6 miles round trip. Lots of great places for backpacking, and unlike some of the national parks you will find solitude. There are several jeep trails that require expert off road driving (if someone wants to take me, I’ll provide the steak and Mountain Dew).

Canyonlands is on par weather wise with Moab so spring and fall are best.

Viewing the eclipse. Nobody joined with us when we sang “Total Eclipse of the Heart.”

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