The Canyon Rims Recreation Area covers a vast amount of land on a high mesa that is located on the eastern edge of Canyonlands National Park. The two main touring roads in this recreation area are Needles Overlook Road and Hatch Point Road. Needles Overlook Road begins at Highway 191 a few miles north of Monticello, Utah and this road is paved most of the way into the park. Hatch Point Road is a long dirt road that intersects with Needles Overlook Road. From the fork in the road, Hatch Point Road goes a little over 16 miles on to the Kane Creek Anticline. There are several interesting points of interest in between, which include the the Hatch Point Campground, Wine Glass and Minor Overlook. The Canyonlands Overlook is located closer to the end point and this trail is an option for drivers of 4x4 high ground clearance vehicles.
The Canyonlands Overlook 4x4 Trail does not appear on most modern mapping systems and information on the web is difficult to find. Surprisingly, the Canyonlands Overlook 4x4 Trail also does not appear in specialized 4x4 trail mapping websites either. After doing a lengthy research session, I actually found no information about the Canyonlands Overlook 4x4 Trail, so hopefully this article and the photos will interest those who have wondered about this lesser known pathway.
As far as it goes, the Canyonlands Overlook Jeep Trail is not overly demanding, so it can be rated as a moderately easy skill level. Two wheel drive can be used to save gas for most of this rough dirt road, but there are a few tough sections to negotiate that involve driving through loose rubble and making tight turns, so the four wheel drive option will come in handy. The road is composed of red clay dirt soil that can turn into deep impassible mud if it rains, so it is best to tackle this 4x4 trail on a dry day. I did the trip in a stock traditional Jeep on a dry day and had no problems.
The Canyonlands Overlook 4x4 Trail goes over many miles of rough high mesa terrain and through some thick juniper forests before the Canyonlands landscape starts to come into view. When the Canyonlands landscape does appear, it is like adding some bright sunshine to the trip even on a cloudy day, because the views are nothing less than spectacular! One flat top canyon mesa after another can be seen for many miles into the horizon. The majestic views definitely have a soothing effect, especially on a hazy day.
As a driver approaches the high mesa cliffs, there are many forks in the dirt road that split off to several cozy Canyonlands overlooks. Some of these short branching trails are very rough, so it is best to take a careful look before biting off more than what can be chewed. There are several designated primitive campsites on the canyon rim to be found toward the end of the Canyonlands Overlook Trail. It does take some careful maneuvering to squeeze a vehicle into these spots, but once there, a visitor will likely see nobody else. This is a very isolated spot high on the rim of the towering cliffs that only eagles call home, so for a true adventurist, there is no better place to pitch a tent in the great outdoors!
I did not log the mileage on the Canyonlands Overlook Jeep Trail, but it takes about 45 minutes to get to the canyon rim at a leisurely pace. This is a good short Jeep trail for giving the passengers a taste of how much fun a bumpy ride can be and the views from atop the towering cliffs at the end of the trail are majestic to see. It is the opportunity to totally escape from the big crowds to a place where few others go that is most appealing about this lesser known destination in the Canyon Rims Recreation Area. The Canyonlands Overlook 4x4 Trail certainly is the perfect dirt road for those who long for an aerie to call their own!
Leave no trace!
Destination West YouTube channel! https://www.youtube.com/@DestinationWestOrg
Donations help the Destinaton West project continue into the future!
Go Fund Me!
This website uses marketing and tracking technologies. Opting out of this will opt you out of all cookies, except for those needed to run the website. Note that some products may not work as well without tracking cookies.Opt Out of Cookies