Sunday, April 27, 2014

See pinnacles, petroglyphs, panoramic vistas on Canyonlands National Park trails

Grand View Point Trail. Photo courtesy of Canyonlands NPS.
Among the best ways to see Canyonlands National Park’s major sights is via a day hike. Just three short trails will allow you to enjoy the park’s highlights – cool rock formations, millennia-old petroglyphs, and incredible vistas.

Needles rock formations
Some 300 million years of rock layers form the red- and white-banded pinnacles known in Canyonlands at needles. The 0.6-mile round trip Pothole Point Trail offers great views of the needles as well a couple of other major geological wonders – slickrock and potholes.

Newspaper Rock
An amazing number of petroglyphs stretching back 2000 years can be found on the rock; some were made by the hand of the mysterious Anasazi. More of a car wayside than a day hike, the undesignated Newspaper Rock Trail runs all of 40 yards between the parking lot off of Utah Hwy. 211 (mile marker 6.7) and the ancient artwork.

Island in the Sky overlook
Canyonlands is named for the virtually impenetrable maze of gorges and mesas across this section of Utah. The 2-mile round trip Grand View Point Trail runs atop the Island in the Sky mesa, offering panoramic views of the wild terrain a thousand feet below sheer cliffs.

Learn more about national park day hiking trails in my Best Sights to See at America’s National Parks guidebook.