As the name suggests, Canyonlands National Park is a sprawling mass of rugged earth and rock, austere, beautiful and impassable. Unless you’re in a 4×4 during one of these excellent tours.
The Green and Colorado rivers are the two main reasons why the land in southern Utah is so delightfully fractured into deep canyons. The other reasons are time and climate. The former is hard to pin down precisely, but millions of years of weathering has crafted distinct formations out of an otherwise rather arid land. While there are roads leading into Canyonlands National Park, it’s the off-roading that is the most rewarding way to experience this remarkable place. Here are four amazing Jeep tours that help you to do that from Moab, the closest major settlement.
Half-day Canyonlands Island in the Sky 4×4 Tour
As the Green River has carved its way through the sandstone mesa in Canyonlands, it has left sheer cliffs and stunning vistas that can be appreciated from the many out-of-the-way viewpoints only accessible in a 4×4 vehicle. This tour’s highlight though is along a paved road to the Island in the Sky, a mesa that happens to sit 1,000 feet (305m) above the surrounding land, offering breathtaking views out over the national park. This tour runs between two and three times a day. From $110 per person.
Canyonlands Backcountry Half-day Jeep Tour
The top of the mesa offers incredible views of the Canyonlands National Park, while down in the river-hewn valleys there’s so much to encounter, from rock formations to wildlife. This Jeep tour from Moab takes you to experience the best of both, while also tackling the challenging switchback dirt road known as the Shafer Trail, which leads up to a phenomenal viewpoint. You’ll also discover Native American petroglyphs, a natural rock arch and visit the Gooseneck Overlook where the river has cut a deep horseshoe canyon. From $132 per person.
Backcountry Jeep Adventure
If the idea of off-roading in Canyonlands National Park sounds fun, but you’d rather not take a guided Jeep tour, you can always rent your own for a day. Canyonlands Jeep Rentals provide the vehicle and a cooler full of ice and water. You’ll also be given a trail guide to find the most scenic and accessible spots in the area, such as the Shafer Trail. If you want help crafting an itinerary, you can get assistance with that, otherwise head out and explore. These Jeeps safely fit up to five people. Additional fees may be charged for tire coverage. From $341 per group.
Off-road Private Jeep Adventure in Moab
While many guided tours tend to pair you with other travelers, often fitting four people into one Jeep, this tour option is private. Your group (maximum four people) will be taken from Moab to tackle the varied natural challenges that stand in the way of ordinary vehicles. Your driver will maneuver over steep rocks and down intense ravines, negotiating sand dunes, encountering dinosaur footprints and even seeing elements of Arches National Park. Please note that this alternative tour generally does not enter Canyonlands National Park, although the terrain may be similar. This tour runs from Mon-Sat. From $300 per group.