Islands in the Sky Section of Canyonlands National Park

Renee Gordon writes about the Islands in the Sky Section of Canyonlands National Park.

As mentioned in my previous post, Canyonlands is made up of 3 very different regions: Island in the Sky to the north, the Maze on the west, and the Needles on the east. We previously visited the Needles section and now we’re showing you the Islands in the Sky section of Canyonlands National Park. The Islands in the Sky is a broad mesa wedged between the Green and the Colorado rivers, and provides a spectacular viewpoint into the canyons.
Click here for an Islands in the Sky Section map with trail descriptions.
Alternatively click here for a detailed PDF map of Canyonlands National Park.
Both maps provided by the National Park Service

Murphy’s Point

After talking to the ranger in the Visitor’s Centre we decided to go on the 5.8km round trip walk to Murphy’s Point, which oddly is not shown on the Visitor’s Map. The parking area for this trail is 4km south of the Upheaval Road junction. The Murphy Trail starts off as a sandy path that appeared to be infrequently used and had various broken branches scattered around – we wondered if there had been a storm/flooding in the area. We were being feasted on by invisible biting flies again and I started running back and forth to try to lose them while Sam became occupied taking photos of lizards [Sam added: who can blame me? Lizards are awesome].

Lizards on the Trail

Canyonlands Lizard One

Canyonlands Lizard One

Canyonlands Lizard Two

Canyonlands Lizard Two

Canyonlands Lizard Three

Canyonlands Lizard Three

Canyonlands Lizard Four Peeking

Canyonlands Lizard Four Peeking

After getting off the sandy path and escaping the biting flies the walk started to become more enjoyable. There were incredible views as we started walking over the slickrock. We frequently lost the rock cairns which were guiding us on the path but it didn’t seem to matter. Everywhere on the slickrock became a great vantage point to look off the edge of the plateau. We had a picnic while enjoying the view and surprisingly we didn’t see anyone else on this walk. A refreshing change from the crowds that we had encountered at the other parks in Utah.

Canyon Views from Murphy’s Point Trail

Looking Down From the Island.JPG

Looking Down From the Island

Renee on Another Rocky Outcrop.jpg

Renee on Another Rocky Outcrop

Sam In Front of the Canyons.JPG

Sam In Front of the Canyons


How do you take your photos?

Sometimes the easiest way to get that shot of the interesting looking tree growing out of the slickrock is to wedge yourself in the rock crevice.

Sam Taking a photo.jpg

Sam Taking a photo

Which led to…

The photo Sam took.jpg

The photo Sam took


More Photos

There’s a lot to see and do in Canyonlands. There is a lot of back country. We only touched the surface but if you come properly prepared and give yourself a week or two (or even a month) – we’re sure you’ll love the place. Whether mountain biking, hiking or four-wheel drive adventuring the land is just waiting for you to explore it.

A Road Below.JPG

A Road Below

Renee on the Slickrock.jpg

Renee on the Slickrock

Renee on a Rocky Outcrop.jpg

Renee on a Rocky Outcrop

Do you like my lizard photos? They were quick little buggers so I found it pretty difficult getting the few photos I’ve shown which are reasonably in focus.

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  1. Amazing photos mate. And great job with the lizards, those pesky little things are always a pain to take photos off!


  1. […] Park. This park has a dramatic overlook that in my opinion provides the best perspective of the Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands. The park name is based on the historic use of the land by cowboys. They used to corral wild horses […]