Canyonlands Sunset

Canyonlands National Park & Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

These two huge NPS protected areas in southeastern Utah sit side-by-side with a common east/west boundary for the length of Canyonlands National Park (Canyonlands) on the east, and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (GCNRA) on the west - it is long and skinny, continuing south for perhaps 225 miles (362 km) beyond Canyonlands to Navajo Bridge.

Canyonlands, the smaller at 527.5 mi² (1,366.2 km²), is divided by Green and Colorado Rivers into four isolated districts: Island in the Sky District, the Maze District, the Needles District, and the Horseshoe Canyon Unit which is detached, to the west beyond GCNRA.  This is isolated, desolute, rugged bear country with no potable water, no services, but with awesome vistas, challenging trails, and interesting canyons that draw nearly half a million visitors every year.  The 100-mile White Rim Trail around Island in the Sky takes at least two days to tour (some say it can be done in 12 hours in good weather and little traffic).
There are no roads connecting the districts.  Island in the Sky can be reached via U313 from US191, 40 miles from Moab, Utah; Needles via U211, 34 miles from US191 north of Monticello, Utah; the Maze is really difficult - 20 miles from U24 on a 2-wheel-drive dirt road to Hans Flat at the edge of GCNRA, then 25 miles of 4-wheel-drive trails across GCNRA to the Maze, an alternate 58 mile 4-wheel-drive trail from U95 near Hite, Utah, is sometimes open; Horseshoe Canyon via dirt roads - 49 miles fron I-70, or 32 miles from U24.

GCNRA occupies 1,959.6 mi² (5,075.3 km²) with the major attractions of Lake Powell and Rainbow Bridge (2.3 million and 100,000 visitors annually).  Lake Powell is a gangling lake with long arms extending up canyons and tributaries on both sides along the 186-mile channel of the Colorado River in majestic Glen Canyon, with a shoreline exceeding 2,000 miles - longer than the entire west coast of the US.  The lake twists and turns, with river arms and canyons 15 to 20 miles in length - there are 96 major canyons off Lake Powell.  Five marinas and a number of primitive launch points provide boating access to Lake Powell.  Hite Marina and most primitive ramps are currently closed by an extended drought  (see Colorado Basin Drought).