Outside Canyonlands National Park Travel Guide

Outside Canyonlands National Park

Moab, the major gateway to both Arches and Canyonlands national parks, abounds with outfitters, shops, restaurants, and lodging options—see the Arches National Park chapter for more on this bustling, free-spirited hub of outdoor recreation. A handful of smaller communities south of Moab along U.S. 191 are closer than Moab to the Needles District and contain a smattering of amenities.

Roughly 55 miles south of Moab, Monticello is less than an hour from the Needles District and lies at 7,000 feet elevation, making it a cool summer refuge from desert heat. In winter it gets downright cold and sometimes receives heavy snow; the Abajo Mountains rise to 11,360 feet to the west of town. Monticello has a few basic motels and restaurants and is a good halfway point between Moab and Colorado's Mesa Verde National Park. Tiny Blanding, 20 miles south of Monticello, has a few bare-bones motels and prides itself on old-fashioned conservative values—it's a dry town, so alcohol sales are prohibited. It's the gateway to Edge of the Cedars State Park, Hovenweep National Monument, Natural Bridges Natural Monument, Grand Gulch, and the eastern end of Lake Powell. About 25 miles south of Blanding, tiny Bluff has a couple of the region's most appealing lodging and dining options and is an excellent gateway for Hovenweep, exploring the San Juan River, and visiting Monument Valley and the northern edge of the Navajo Nation.

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