The Canyon Rims Recreation Area is rarely crowded, simply because two busy National Parks are located right next door. Most of the tourists focus solely on Canyonlands National Park, Arches National Park and adventures in the Moab Valley when visiting this region, so they tend to overlook the neighboring Canyon Rims Recreation Area altogether. Part of the neglect is due to this recreation area barely appearing on smart phone mapping systems. Finding a place that is not crowded is a real blessing when Moab is at full capacity during the busy summer season and finding empty campsites is even better still!
The main access point for Canyon Rims Recreation Area is located just a few miles north of Monticello, Utah on Highway 191. The road to look for is Needles Overlook Road. After traveling a few miles on Needles Overlook Road, the fork in the road is where Hatch Point Road begins. Hatch Point Road meanders along the canyon rim to the Hatch Point Campground and the majestic Kane Creek Anticline. Starting from Highway 191, the total distance to the Anticline Overlook is 31 miles and the trip on Hatch Point Road will involve some seriously long dirt road driving. Fortunately, Hatch Point Road is a well maintained dirt road, so passenger cars that have higher than average ground clearance can do the trip, although something like a Jeep would be more appropriate.
There are several scenic overlooks and famous landmarks along Hatch Point Road , so the long dirt road drive to the Kane Creek Anticline is far from boring! There are several dirt side roads that go to primitive campsites on the canyon rim too, but most of these dirt trails are too rough for anything other than a 4×4 vehicle. The Canyonlands Overlook Trail is a good example of one of the “4×4 Only” trails. On the flip-side, some of the scenic overlook dirt side roads are smooth enough for a passenger car and the Minor Overlook is a good example.
The Minor Overlook Access Road is a one way loop around an enormous eroded red sandstone outcrop, which resembles an island on the rim of the canyon. The dirt road goes along the edge of a towering cliff and the views of Canyonlands from this spot are nothing less than spectacular! The Colorado River, part of the Dead Horse Point potash mine ponds and a portion of the Island In The Sky Canyonlands District can be seen from the Minor Overlook. The views of the canyon floor from this towering cliff top overlook reveal the harsh rugged maze of canyons and bluffs that give this terrain the reputation of being a no man’s land. In some spots along the short loop road there is room enough to park the vehicle and set a spell while taking the beautiful views in, so be sure to plan on taking your sweet time when experiencing the Minor Overlook!
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