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General Information

Description - Most of the Island in the Sky district consists of a high mesa that has been separated from the other parts of the park by the erosional forces of wind and water. Visitors to the Island in the Sky have access to many levels of the canyon. The most easily accessed area is the mesa top, where visitors will find expansive views into the Green and Colorado River canyons as well as over the Maze and Needles districts of the park. A bench several hundred feet below the mesa top is accessible to four-wheel drivers and hikers via rough trails and roads. This area of the park is characterized by the white sandstone that dominates the landscape, the White Rim. Descending from the White Rim visitors can enter the depths of the Green and Colorado River canyons. This area of the park is reached only by those willing to spend a night in the canyon. The terrain in the Island of the Sky is rugged, rocky and dry. Solitude can be found in this portion of the park, but visitors will have to work harder for it than in The Maze and Needles districts.

Attractions - A good place to begin your visit to the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park is the visitor center. This small facility houses exhibits on the geology, climate, animal and plant life of the area. Rangers at this site provide trail and road information and can help you with the best itinerary to maximize your time in the canyon.

The main Island road is a continuation of Utah 313. It leads past the visitor center and accesses several trailheads and overlooks. There are trails of varying lengths on the mesa top as well as trails that access the white rim. The only trail to descend from the mesa top to the rivers is Lathrop Canyon Trail.

Four-wheel drive roads that access the area below the mesa lie north of the visitor center stemming from Utah 313. High-clearance vehicles and some four-wheel driving experience are necessary to navigate these rugged roadways that pierce the steep canyon walls. The White Rim Road traverses the bench below Island in the Sky. It leads 100 miles through the canyon and provides access to several four-wheel drive roads and trails exploring the inner canyon.

Recreation - The recreation opportunities within the Island in the Sky district will satisfy the most extreme needs, as well as those interested in more mild pursuits. Hiking, viewing scenery and camping are available on the mesa top at several facilities. Those visitors interested in investing more time in the canyon can backpack or four-wheel drive to the white rim or rivers. Rock climbing is a popular pursuit at several sites as is mountain biking.

Climate - The climate of this area of the park is arid receiving approximately 12 inches of rain per year. The fall and spring are the most pleasant times to visit Canyonlands, and also the most crowded, with warm days and cool nights. Summer brings very hot days. In winter expect warm days and very cold nights.

Location - Island in the Sky lies between the Green and Colorado Rivers immediately north of their confluence. It can be easily accessed from Moab, Utah, or Interstate 70 via Utah Highways 191 and 313.

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More Information

Additional Information:
Canyonlands National Park - Canyonlands National Park preserves 527 square miles (848 square km) of colorful canyons, mesas, buttes, fins, arches and spires in the heart of the Colorado Plateau in Southeastern Utah.


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