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Canyonlands' Island In The Sky District features sweeping viewpoints, family-friendly trails, and difficult backpacking hikes, which makes it a perfect place for adventurers of all kinds.

Crowd Factor: 6/10

Other than the fact visitors tend to coalesce around three different locations, opportunities to find solitude abound.

Peak Hours: 1030a-430p

Oddly enough, when the sun finally becomes its most brutal, the park becomes its most popular.

Things to Do

Most Popular: Mesa Arch & Grand View Trails

Mesa Arch: While the arch itself isn't particularly spectacular, the views behind and through it, especially with the morning sun perfectly framed as it crests over the horizon, are.

Grand View: With views that live up to the name, Grand View is also the most easily accessible overlook in the park, which is why so many people do it.

Two Important Things to Know:

1) The only place to fill up your water supply is at the Visitor Center. You'll likely have to make more than one trip.

2) Hiking below the rim is not advised during the hot summer months. Temperatures can be 10 degrees hotter than on the mesa.

Mather Favorites

Overlook Alternative: White Rim

Less popular than both Mesa Arch and Grand View Point, White Rim Overlook sports views that are equally spectacular. This short hike features natural potholes and gorgeous morning views to the east.

Solitary Summer Hike: Wilhite or Lantham Trails to Mesa’s Edge

The secret here is to do the first part of the longer Wilhite or Lantham Trails. Both follow cairns through the desert before descending into the canyons below.

Our Favorite Summer Day Hike: Upheaval Dome to Second Overlook

At a quick glance choosing this hike might be a little suspicious, as it doesn't have the sweeping vistas you'd expect from Island in the Sky. Instead, this hike treks around a unique and mysterious geologic feature, only a handful of hikers go to the second overlook, and it's still short enough to safely do in the summer.

5 Hikes That Mather

#1 Upheaval Dome to Second Overlook

Different than the rest of your Island in the Sky experiences, this hike is a short-ish trek around a mysterious geologic feature.​

Distance: 1.8 Miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Peak Alternative: Somewhat. Most hikers stop at the first overlook, leaving the second half relatively empty.

Best Start Time: Anytime not between 1-3pm.

Additional Mathers

Arches vs Canyonlands

We might be in the minority here, but when comparing views, hikes, variety, and traffic, there quite simply isn't a competition.

What if it Rains? 

If you happen to be unlucky enough to be caught in one of the yearly monsoons, options at Island In The Sky are few and far between.

Photo Credit: NPS

Mather's One-Day Itinerary

These times are based on summer daylight hours, typical temperatures, and crowd sizes.


545a: Wake Up

700a: Arrive Grand View Trailhead
7a-9a: Hike Grand View Trail
930-1030a: White Rim Overlook Trail
1045-11a: Refill water (pick up Junior Ranger Book)
1130a-130p: Upheaval Dome to Second Overlook
130-3p: Lunch and Fill Out Junior Ranger Book
330-415p: Mesa Arch Trail
430-5p: Refill Water, Explore Visitor Center
530-730p: Wilhite Trail to Mesa's Edge.
745-9p: Dinner and Sunset at Green River Overlook (No Picnic Tables, but the sunset views are the best driveable ones in the park).

930p: Pass Out

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