Canyonlands National Park has some great hikes for kids. Our three boys ages 7, 4, and 1 completed each of the following hikes (though the little one rode in the backpack on the longer hikes. If you are planning a trip to Canyonlands, make sure that you understand that there are two different sections of the park reviewed here: Needles and Island in the Sky. Figure out which section you are going to before you plan any hikes. This page shows short summaries of the hikes. You can click on either of the park section headings to read more thorough descriptions of each hike:
Aztec Butte: This hike takes you right up on top of the butte to overlook a large section of the park. There is steep slickrock scrambling and some scary edges. If you’re not up for that, turn left before the butte and check out the ancient stone granaries built under a rocky overhang. It’s not far to the granaries, maybe a mile, but the top of the butte and back is closer to 2 miles.
Mesa Arch: Our baby walked the entire way on this half mile trail to an interesting stone arch. (We grabbed him when we reached it, as there is quite a drop). This is one of the nicest hikes at Canyonlands, and it is very popular at any time of the day or year. Anyone can and should do this hike.
Upheaval Dome: The upheaval dome is a unique geological feature in the park. The trail goes far beyond it, but to hike to the dome and back is a little less than a mile. The payoff is pretty nice: white pillars of sand pushing up through the red rock. We really liked this short hike.
Grandview Point: The parks website has this hike listed at 2 miles roundtrip, but it certainly didn’t seem like that. Maybe we only walked out a short way and turned around before reaching the end. At any rate, the view point is must-see for every visitor to Canyonlands Island in the Sky district.
For more details and pictures about these hikes, visit out post on Canyonlands: Island in the Sky.
Roadside Ruins: It’s only .3 miles RT to a very small ruin. There is an ancient granary, but you can’t get very close to it like those at Aztec Butte. Still, it’s a good opportunity to get out of the car, and anyone can make this hike.
Cave Spring: Cave Spring is the best hike in the Needles district. It is only .6 miles around the loop, and much of it is cool and shaded even on the hottest day. There are 2 short ladders to climb, which are easy for the 4 and up crowd. Toddlers will need to be carefully carried up. If you find yourself in Needles, don’t skip this hike!
Pothole Point: Pothole Point is okay if you like to hike across slickrock and look at dry potholes. This is a short loop (.6 miles) that has some decent views of the Needles. The hike is flat and easy with a few lizards to see.
Slickrock Trail: Slickrock is the longest of the short trails in the park at 2.4 miles. It follows the rim along the edge (it’s not a thousand feet down like in Island) and stops at four viewpoints to overlook small canyons. Legend has it that it is possible to see bighorn sheep out on the flat, but you’d have to be lucky than we were. It might be a good idea to hike out as far as viewpoint 1 or 2 depending on your ambition and turn around do Cave Spring again.
For more details and pictures, visit our post Canyonlands: Needles