Last Updated on December 13, 2022
Canyonlands National Park, about a five-hour drive south of Salt Lake City is a wilderness of countless canyons. It also has fantastically formed buttes carved by the Colorado River and its tributaries.
Mesa Arch is a sandstone arch on the Island in the Sky Mesa, one of the four sections of the park. A cliff-edge arch, it provides stunning views of the La Sal Mountains in the distance.
Although you can enjoy the view at Mesa Arch any time of day, it is most popular at sunrise. It is at that time when the rising sun’s glow turns the bottom of the arch red. Nearly every morning, numerous people hike the .3 miles (.5kms) over the rocky, uneven ground to the arch to witness the phenomena. It is, in fact, one of the most photographed arches in southeast Utah.
In addition to Mesa Arch being one of the most spectacular places in the park, for many it is also the most magical at sunrise.
A Colorful Park of Canyons, Mesas, Arches and Buttes
Carved by the Colorado River, Canyonlands National Park offers visitors hiking, stargazing, camping, and technical rock climbing.
Established in 1964, the park preserves 527 square miles of colorful landscape. This landscape has eroded into countless canyons, mesas, arches, and buttes by the Colorado River and its tributaries. Mesa Arch is one of its most popular, especially at sunrise.
The Colorado and Green rivers divide the park into four districts: Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze, and the rivers themselves. While these areas share a primitive desert atmosphere, each retains its own character and offers different opportunities for exploration.
There are no roads within the park that cross the rivers to directly link any of Canyonlands’ districts. Though they may appear close on a map, traveling between districts requires two to six hours by car. Most people, including many who come to visit Mesa Arch at sunrise, find it impractical to visit more than one or two districts in a single trip.
Canyonlands is a remote area with few services. You should plan on bringing everything you’ll need during your trip.