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Needles Section

Dead Horse Point Overlook

Dead Horse Point Overlook View from the Edge

Mesa Arch

Mesa Arch and Mountain View

Green River Overlook Panorama

Green River Overlook
Grand View Overlook Panorama

Grand View Spires


view close up

Shafer Canyon Panorama

Cactus Flowers

Long Nosed Lizard

Newspaper Rock Petroglyphs

Newspaper Rock Hunters

Big Spring Canyon Rocks

Big Spring Canyon Overlook



This gallery features Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse Point and Newspaper Rock Petroglyphs Photos.

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park is open year-round. Canyonlands is Utah's largest national park, with 337,598 acres of land and water ready to be explored. The Green and Colorado rivers split the park into three major districts: Island in the Sky, The Needles, and The Maze. Island in the Sky (north section) is about 32 miles north of Moab and the Needles (south section) is about 76 mile south of Moab. Take 313 Utah State Highway north of Moab to reach Dead Horse State Park which is on the way to Island in the Sky. Another 15 miles from Dead Horse takes you to the border of the Island in the Sky section. The Needles section can be reached from Moab on 191 Utah State Highway to 212 which takes you to Newspaper Rock and another 25 miles or so to the entrance of the Needles Section

Key sites to view, photograph and hike are:
Needles: Big Springs Canyon Overlook, and Pothole Point. All are best viewed during early to mid morning when these photographs were taken. You are approximately at 5,000 feet elevation in this section. It is essential you bring plenty of water and food since there are limited concessions at the Visitor session (no restaurant or lodging here or at Island in the Sky). Sunscreen and a good hat are also essential.

Island in the Sky: Green River Canyon Overlook, Grand View Point Overlook, Shafer Canyon Overlook, and Mesa Arch are prime areas to visit and photograph.

Most people like to view Mesa Arch at sunrise. I found that mid to late morning works best to illuminate the La Sal Mountains and the buttes/mesas in the foreground to the mountains. These would be lost in shadows at sunrise.

Since I invested time in early moring at Dead Horse Point, I could not make it before 10am at any of the above listed sites. They all came out fine using a polarizer filter and a tripod. The visibility and clarity was excellent. You are 6,000 feet above sea level so a one mile hike climbing 100 feet to see Mesa Arch can be exhausting. Water, preferably with a sport drink mixed in keeps you hydrated and prevents cramping.

The Grand View Point overlook is best viewed at sunset. Something I would have like to do. Unfortunately, photographing the other parts are best done in the morning and another 76 mile round trip to and from Moab was not going to work for me. There were simply too many other things to photograph and view outside Moab.

Newspaper Rock Petroglyphs
Newspaper Rock is now designated a State Historical Monument, and is situated along the access road into the Needles district of Canyonlands National Park, 12 miles from US 191 and 30 miles from the park boundary. The 200 square foot rock is a part of the vertical Wingate sandstone cliffs that enclose the upper end of Indian Creek Canyon, and is covered by hundreds of ancient Indian petroglyphs (rock carvings) - one of the largest, best preserved and easily accessed groups in the Southwest.

The petroglyphs have a mixture of human, animal, material and abstract forms covering about 2,000 years of history ranging from the Archaic, Fremont to the Ute and Navajo. In Navajo, the rock is called "Tse Hane" meaning rock that tells a story. Archeologist simply do not know what stories are being told. The zoom in photo of the rock shows mounted men shooting an arrow toward either elk or deer, buffalo, and sheep. The setting is peaceful and sheltered, as the canyon at this point is quite narrow, overgrown by bushes and tall cottonwood trees, with the clear waters of the creek flowing close to the road, and sheer reddish cliffs rising 250 feet above.

Dead Horse Point State Park

Dead Horse Point is 2,000 feet above the Colorado River and provides a breathtaking panorama of Canyonland. Dead Horse Point is on the same road leading to Canyonlands Island In The Sky and a place that shouldn't be missed. The many layers of geologic time may be viewed while standing on the cayon rim. It reveals over 300 million years of the earth's history. In the back of Dead Horse Point is the La Sal Mountains. The park is located on Route SR 313 about 31 miles from Moab. The park is open from 6am to 10pm daily and there is an admission charge (even if you have a national park pass). There is a discount for seniors.

With Deadhorse Point, you want to be there when the sun just crests the horizon. You'll be standing on the edge of a cliff, facing south, with the Colorado river, snaking it's way to the "confluence, below. Just across the river is a "gooseneck" mesa which points northward. Off to your right (west) are the cliff faces of several mesas which eventually run into Canyonlands National Park. If you can not arrive by sunrise, early morning before 10am works. A polarizing filter is a must-have to bring to reduce haze in the distance and enhance colors.

Click on the link below for more details on Canyonlands National Park.

National Park Service-Canyonlands National Park Information

Click on the link below for more details on Dead Horse Point State Park.

Dead Horse State Park Information