Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park, Moab UT

Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park are some natural Utah wonders.

If you’re looking for some gorgeous desert scenery and would like to stare in wonder at a land that looks so vast you can’t see where it ends or begins, you need to visit the Canyonlands National Park and the Dead Horse Point State Park in Utah’s Southeast high desert near Moab, UT.

Canyonlands National Park is made up of three parts or districts because of the two rivers that divide it, the Colorado and Green rivers.

  • Island In The Sky – The most accessible part of the park and the Northernmost part that is closest to Moab.
  • Needles – Situated in the Southeast corner of the park. About 40 miles South of Moab.
  • The Maze – The most rugged and remote part located West of the park. If you want some full out adventure, this is where you should probably go, but plan ahead fully. High clearance 4-wheel drive vehicles are a must and a lot of time to get there and also you need time to explore.

Each district has its own characteristics like Island In The Sky is mostly sandstone and is situated up higher that the rest of the park. Hence the name it was given. Needles houses sandstone spires similar to some of the ones you’ll find in and around Goblin Valley State Park. There’s more of the same sandstone formations along with “castles” in The Maze.

Nothing connects the districts because of the rivers.

Some tips before you go

  • Plan one district per trip or day depending on how much time you have.
  • Check road conditions and with the park at NPS.gov to see of there’s anything notable.
  • Research which district you want to visit first.
  • Always pack plenty of water, food, sunblock and extra clothing.
  • There are fees to get into these parks as with any and I highly recommend purchasing a pass if you plan of visiting a few in a year.
Not entirely sure what that top image on the sign is all about…….
Island In The Sky

I would advise going here first as it is the most accessible and I feel like it is a great introductory part to the park. From Moab, drive 10 miles North and get on UT 313 and drive about 22 miles south west to the visitors center.

There you can nab up some maps of the area with the outlooks and trails and choose which you’d like to check out. I recommend the following pitstops and hikes.


Steps on the way to Upheaval Dome
  • Mesa arch – A very quick hike to a very popular arch. Can you say screen saver? Depending on when you go, you will probably have to wait your turn to get a decent pic with the famous arch. But people seemed way cool, took turns and got out of the way and even offered to take our picture by it.
Mesa Arch
Mesa Arch….Such a surreal view!
  • Buck Canyon Overlook – A view point you can easily check out and take some beautiful pics from.
  • Grand View point Overlook – This overlook will blow your mind so check it out!
  • Green River Overlook – Another mind blower! You gotta check it!
Green River Overlook
  • Upheaval dome – This is a geographical phenomenon that you take a decent hike to. Just follow the markers on the trail like little stacks of rocks on the sandstone (called cairns) and the signs and you’ll have no problem finding it. It looks like white sand made a little mountain in a crater of sorts. Geologists have a few theories of how it was formed but no real clue.
Upheaval Dome

Now if you went early and gave yourself enough time, go out of the park and check out Dead Horse Point State park.

Dead Horse Point State Park

You can seriously get your hike on and your bike on in the park but unfortunately I did not allow myself enough time to get it on!

For another time I will plan on it but if you don’t have a whole lot of time just drive to the Dead Horse Point overlook and check that beauty out at least and take pics.

Dead Horse Point overlook

Lodging ideas for Island In The Sky & Dead Horse Point 

  • Motels/Hotels/condos/camping/Koa in Moab – These are all fine and cool. I did the hotel thing when I went and regretted not looking into and booking the next idea listed.
  • Yurts -“ What?! Yurts? Cool! I wonder what they’re like inside” says I when I saw them in the distance. As of right now, here are your choices for these roundish little rooms for rent with little or all the amenities.
  • Talking Mountain Yurts – La Sal Mountain Range Moab, UT. There’s 3 yurts available to rent for up to 8 people ranging from $125 – $275 per night depending on when you go. Portage service for your stuff available for a fee and pets allowed inside yurts for a fee as well. Make reservations at talkingmountainyurts.com 
  • Dead Horse Point State Park Yurts – Located in the Park obviously, there’s the Wingate Yurts and Moenkopi Yurts available for 6 people in each at $140 per night. Make reservations at www.reserveamerica.com

Glamping – Canvas tents – I didn’t know about these either but the research I did on them left me with questions that may require a phone call to find out. 

Under Canvas Moab – From what I gather these are luxurious canvas tents with pretty much everything you want in some secluded areas.

Here’s the gist on the options I read about.

  1. Deluxe – Complete bathroom inside, wood stove, private deck, sleeps four.
  2. Safari with four twins – Large cabin style, communal bathhouse, sleeps four.
  3. Suite – Private bathroom, sleeps four, wood stove, private deck, secluded with views.

Get online and check these out.

These are available for reservation at undercanvas.com with several packages available. They seem pricy, but don’t take my word for it.

Dining in Moab

Of course there’s the ever popular Pasta Jay’s where you can pretty much count on most of the menu items being delicious in my opinion. (love anything even closely resembling Italian food) I really like the Peace Tree Juice Cafe for healthier breakfast options as well.

I usually go to these same places when I visit Moab but here are some other places I’ve heard or read good things about.

  • Quesadilla Mobilla – Food truck, Mexican & southwestern food. This has excellent reviews pretty much everywhere you look on the net.
  • Desert Bistro – American fusion. 
  • Sweet Cravings Bakery & Bistro – American, Deli & bakery.
  • Eklecticafe – American, cool atmosphere.
  • El Charro Locco – Mexican & Southwestern fare.

I’m sure there are a ton more and I will definitely try these suggestions out the next time I’m down there.

Grocery stores in Moab

There are a few grocery store options where you can get some supplies whiles you’re out and about or if you were lucky enough to get one of those cool yurts or canvas tents to cook your own food at.

  • City Market – Regular grocery store
  • The village Market – another regular ass grocery store
  • Moonflower Community Cooperative – Here is a natural and whole foods store with a deli in the back. If you live in or near Moab, you may wish to pay into the co-op.

Coffee! Coffee! Coffee!

If you’re like me, you gotsta have that coffee! Here are a few of the many places in Moab you can grab a cup o Joe.

  • Moab Coffee Roasters – Name says it all!
  • Eklectica Coffee & Collectables – Breakfast and coffee served here.
  • Wicked Brew Espresso Drive Thru – Drive Thru coffee shop.
  • Wake & Bake Cafe – Sounds like they serve breakfast & lunch along with locally roasted coffee and smoothies.
  • Cafe Italiano – Food truck, Espresso, iced coffee, smoothies and paninis.
  • Starbucks – Of course there’s a friggin Starbucks! There’s always one of these corporate death traps. Avoid at all times, unless of course it’s your fave but I guarantee you can find something so much better! I wasn’t even going to mention it but then there’s people who love this place for some reason. I don’t see it, but that’s me and enough about what I want.

Hello Moab my old friend

I’ve been to Moab a handful of times, usually with an agenda in mind, but sometimes its just great to go down and visit and eat and shop at some great unique places. I know there’s a lot more to do and see around this area but unfortunately I haven’t had the opportunity to get it all in.

They also have the Moab Castle Creek Winery down that beautiful Hwy 128 alongside the Colorado River with the Red Cliffs Lodge. I’ve stayed there and greatly enjoyed a Christmas party one time but wasn’t able to spend a whole lot of time there, so maybe another time….

Big Rock Candy Mountain Resort – Marysvale, UT

Read about a great Utah getaway and adventure.

Looking for some ATV fun or just a fun place to get away for a weekend? Big Rock Candy Mountain has you covered.

My husband and I had the pleasure of visiting this attraction tucked away and basically hiding in West-central Utah in Paiute County. The Mountain you see above, gets it’s mostly mustardy yellowish-white color from volcanic rock spewed millions of years ago and had been chemically altered by the obvious hydrogen sulphide, along with water and oxygen, as well as minerals present in the surrounding area to form and give you these beautiful little piles of rock to change up the scenery a bit in the rolling farmland hills.

At a high point on an ATV ride looking down at the farms and rolling hills.

Lodging at Big Rock Candy Mountain

It’s a great little place to stay if you’re looking into exploring the Paiute Trail system. Which is ginormous by the way! 2000+ miles with a 240 mile main loop.

  • You have your choice of 8 cabins, (yay)
  • 12 caboose train cars, (whoohoo) 
  • A few motel rooms, (snore) 
  • 32 lot RV park, (way too crowded and too close for comfort)
  • Or some good old fashioned camping, (I do enough of that!)

 The lodging at this place books up pretty quick as it is a great place to stay whilst getting your fill of all of the ATV rides you can stand. As my husband puts it “we’re comin in jiggly hot!”

If you’ve decided on booking one of the train cars

Train car porch steps with Sevier River overlook.
From the porch looking at Big Rock Candy Mountain.

When starting my research and bookings for this trip I immediately fell in love with these caboose train car rentals. I thought these are either going to be super trashy, inconvenient, in desperate need of repair and updating, tiny and strictly novelty rooms that I will wish I didn’t book for 3 nights. I was impressed really! Turns out, they were probably one of the best rooms I’ve stayed in lately. All of the train cars had a different name and theme. Ours was a beachy nautical theme and was super cute.

Our nautical train car interior.
View from the bathroom – husband getting in my shot!

They’re clean, convenient, updated and yes novelty but again way cute. Especially the porch overlooking the Sevier River. There are some fire pits, grills and tables down by the river for more of your outdoorsy pleasure. We didn’t indulge in our love of a good sit-down by the fire with a beer in hand, because they wasn’t advertised, and I didn’t want to pay $9 for a small bundle of wood at the ol nearby “convenience” store. Had I known, I would’ve probably brought some wood from home.

Oh yes – the “convenience” store. The one that closes whenever it wants really, because everyday it was different. The day we arrived, which was on the Thursday right before Labor Day weekend, they closed at 3 PM. To our later thankfulness we had our shit together that morning and left way earlier than we needed to, we ended up there around 1:30  – 2 PM and decided we would see if we could check into our lovely little ass end of a train room. The staff was super friendly and helpful though. 

Services available and some things to know before you go

I advise taking a quick drive around in your ATV to get your bearings. There are signs posted around about not driving on the main highway. They don’t like it and I can see why. 

If you know where you want to go, drive around and see how you can get there by using the trails. It’ll be a fun adventure in itself!

There’s basically no cell service so be prepared for that. It can be hard to get used to if you’re a Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and whatever junkie. It can also be hard if you are trying to look up where something is via the internets cuz that shit isn’t happening unless you drive into Marysvale.

Restaurants and foodstuffs

At the Big Rock Grill & Smokehouse, you can get good home cooked meals with very friendly and fairly fast service. They also have a sauce they make for sale called Honey Jalapeño Dippin Sauce. It was so good we bought 2 bottles.They closed at 8 PM on weekdays and 9 PM on Saturday. 

Hoover’s Cafe just a little further down the road towards Marysvale was closed when we went but I read they’re planning to re-open for the 2019 season. 

There’s a little convenience store in Marysvale called Tug’s One Stop and it closes at 7 PM so make sure you take plenty of food, snacks, and water just in case. I’m happy to report that my overpacking really shined in the food, coffee, and snack department. If you like to savor a good glass of wine, a few beers, or if your more of a “let’s get waay steed” type of person, then be sure to BYOB. There is a super secret tiny section in the back of Tug’s where you’ll find a small selection of those things. ( which blew my mind by the way) And maybe that is why they close at 7 PM because of some of the Utah laws about enjoying yourself too much and apparently too late.

There are a few other places to eat at in Marysvale as well. 

Tomatoe’s Pizza Pie – Specializes in Pizza, sandwiches, pasta and also serves up salads, burgers and ice cream. (this place was good but busy around dinner time)

Marysvale Diner @ Webers – this is a motel restaurant with the usual American fare. (didn’t try)

Dixon’s Dawg House – a walk-up stand serving Hot dogs, chips and burgers. (passed it up)

Activities and such

ATV Trails

Naturally if you’re coming to the resort, you’re going to check out the Paiute Trails on your sweet ass side-by-side or 4-wheeler. (or your crummy ass piece of shit) Or you can rent one of their many selections of off-road vehicles for a cost of course.

View from one of the trails.

These trails are so abundant and interconnected that I can’t even tell you which ones we were on or which were my favorite. But I did enjoy the one that passes by a spot called Hennessy Point, which is pretty high in elevation. I believe we found out it’s a bit over 10,000 feet!

Just grab a trail map (available pretty much everywhere at varying prices) and choose which ones you want to explore. Just make sure you bring food and especially water as there are no services anywhere except in Marysvale. 

Hiking 

Bullion Falls

But if you’re into hiking, I highly recommend the short trip up to the Bullion Falls. We weren’t able to go down to the falls like we had heard you can do because we thought my husband had torn his biscuits (Meniscus) so we stopped because it gets a little rocky going down. Check out my post on hiking tips.

Man made fun

The resort has a few other activities to check out besides the ATV and bike trails, and hiking.

There’s the Adventure Mountain which is a suspension bridge across to the mountain with ropes and iron footholds and handholds to help you up to where you get to zip line your way back down to the bottom. You have to be in a safety harness so don’t worry about free falling to your death like I would. (a little scared of heights but getting better) 

The Adventure Park will get you the thrill of making your way through obstacles such as a tight rope walk over the Sevier River, tire swings, wall climbs, balance beams and the like. I didn’t partake in these activities but there’s always next time.

Sevier River trips

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Floating down the Sevier River.

There’s also an unguided lazy river float and a guided white water rafting trip available with everything needed to participate for a small fee. Or you can just float the river on your own if you have the life jacket and tubes, rafts or SUP boards to make this water loving attraction possible. We paid for the lazy river float and in hindsight I wish we would’ve just used our paddle boards and went down the river by ourselves. It would’ve been about the same experience to be honest. The “kid” that drove us all down to the launch area was pretty much clueless mouth breather and probably didn’t know his left hand from his right.

Big Rock Candy Mountain overall conclusion and thoughts

An old interesting piece on mining equipment I saw on one of the trails.

After spending a long weekend here, I must say I really enjoyed it but I could have enjoyed it a lot more had I known about all the weird early closing times of basically everything and that I had my own fire pit to myself to enjoy down by the river as part of the train car rental.

That amenity may have been listed somewhere but I sure as hell didn’t see it or maybe I didn’t pay attention to it. Who knows! But I had been wanting to go here ever since we bought our RZR and finally had the chance to go. We starting looking about a month and a halfish before going and found only one train car available. It was Labor Day weekend and the last weekend they had their season open so maybe that had a lot to do with it.

They could benefit from adding a cell tower out there for sure. Just because it would be nice to know you could call for help or look up some info online if need be. Trust me, it was a little frustrating.

A little dive bar that serves some food wouldn’t hurt but I bet they don’t do that for fear of too many people getting in their rides and feelin the need to booze cruise and get lost and wreck and die and or cause accidents. I get it. People are dumb.

But I will say a beefing up of knowledgable personnel around for the guided trips and helping people stay on track and not being stupid, especially on the busy weekends or Holiday weekends would make it a more safe and resorty type experience for sure.