Canyonlands National Park contains three districts; Island in the Sky, The Needles and The Maze. The Maze district is more rugged and contains multi-day excursions. Each district has separate entrances, so for day hiking, plan your trip for either Island in the Sky or The Needles.
Island In The Sky
1. Whale Rock: 1 mile
If you like to scramble up slick rock, then this is the hike for you. Whale rock somewhat looks a whale, but what it lacks in resemblance it makes up for in unique hiking and grand views.
2. Mesa Arch: .5 miles
This is a hike for all ages. It is a short hike to a beautiful arch, framing spectacular views.
3. Upheaval Dome: 1st overlook .8 miles, second overlook 1.8 miles
A short but steep hike to view the mysterious crater lined with jagged spires.
4. Aztec Butte: 2 miles
Meander through a sandy wash until you come to a fork in the trail. The eastern fork leads to spectacular views, the western fork leads to 800 year old Puebloan granaries. Both forks contain scrambling over slickrock and ledges.
5. Grandview Point: 2 miles
Plan to start this hike an hour before sunset and enjoy the last light of the day saying goodnight to the spectacular panoramic view of the land. Make sure you have a flashlight for the hike back.
6. Murphy Point: 3.6 miles
This longer hike leads to unforgettable views of Candlestick Tower, Green River and White Rim Road.
1. Roadside Ruins: .3 miles
A short trail educating about how the Indians used the native plants. The trail ends with an ancient Puebloan granary, where their bounty was stored.
2. Cave Spring: .6 miles
This short loop includes a historic cowboy camp, prehistoric rock paintings, a rare year-round spring, and two ladders to climb.
3. Pothole Point Trail: .6 miles
Potholes along this slickrock trail, fill with rainwater and creates a perfect environment for microlife such as horsehair worms, snails, tadpoles and fairy shrimp. Who doesn’t want to see fairy shrimp?
This one is located on the National Mall. We did not visit this one because we heard the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (still a Smithsonian, further away) was bigger. Both are free admission, so it depends on your ability to travel farther and how much time you have.
Independence Ave at 6th St. SW, Washington, D.C. 20560
So worth riding to the end of the Metro line and taking an Uber the rest of the way to Chantilly. It was AMAZING! We saw the space shuttle Discovery, the Concord and the Enola Gay. If you are an audio tour nerd like me, you will LOVE this one.
14390 Air and Space Museum Parkway, Chantilly, Virginia 20151
Must sees here are the Star Spangled Banner (it is absolutely amazing), Lincolns hat (I kid you not! His actual famous hat!), a display of the Inaugural gowns of the First Ladies (breathtakingly beautiful), Julia Childs kitchen, George Washingtons uniform, and Edisons lightbulb. So much history in this museum.
Rent a Bike and tour the Monuments and Memorials. Bike and Roll can set you and your kids up with bikes and helmets and get you on your way. They rent by the hour and it took us, on a busy Friday, four hours at a leisurely pace. Hands down, my favorite part of the trip. Here’s a map to guide you to all the memorials and monuments.
This was the longest line we waited in, and the grumpiest guards, but you have to go. Highlights are definitely, The Constitution, The Bill of Rights, The Declaration of Independence, and the Magna Carta.
My book-loving kids and I could have stayed here all day, and would still want to come back. First of all, it’s my favorite building in Washington D.C. It is so beautiful. Second, books! Need I say more? But, I will anyway. On the ground floor, tucked in the back is the Young Readers Center, they have braille copies of Harry Potter. On the first floor you’ll find the Gutenberg Bible, and on the second floor, Jeffersons library.
Thomas Jefferson Building 10 First St. SE, Washington, D.C. 20540
The changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, is something that every American should experience. Words cannot describe this ceremony. If it’s not on your bucket list, go put it on now.
I felt like angels were singing down on us the whole time we were there. Well, except for when my daughter tripped and almost wiped out a Calder display. We spent most of our time in the East building and in the Sculpture Garden. There is an underground walkway from the east to the west building that is super cool. Don’t miss the blue rooster on the roof!
I’m a huge fan of double decker bus tours and Big Bus Tours is my favorite one. I like to spend the first day in a new city on a bus tour and then add to my list of places to go. Make sure to bundle up. It gets chilly up top, but it’s got the best view.
Another building of magnificent art. The portraits of the Presidents was a stroll through art history. I loved seeing the relaxed, humanistic traits appearing as time has evolved. Michelle Obamas portrait was inspiring as well as many others.
If you’ve never been to Zions National Park, don’t let the crowds keep you away. There is a reason it’s crowded. It’s AMAZING!
Peak times are: Memorial Day (last Monday in May), Easter week (date varies – usually in April), Labor Day (first Monday in September), and Utah Education Association break (October).
This is a short easy hike that is paved with stairs to a deck area to check out the rock that is weeping.
This is a must do! Don’t let the chained area keep you away. Even if you get to the top and decide the chained area isn’t for you, the hike up to that point is still amazing. The best part is Walters Wiggles which is a section of switch backs that are a site to see.
Lower Emerald Pools and Upper Emerald Pools are listed as two separate hikes, but I recommend doing it as one hike. This is such a fun hike. You will see pools, a wall of water (watch your step, it can be slippery), stepping stones and winding trails. You will not be disappointed.
This hike is found on the east side of the tunnel (you have to drive through the tunnel during your visit). Parking lot is on the right side of the road and usually crowded, so come early. Cross the street to the trail head and don’t forget your camera. The view is spectacular!
The Narrows (Bottom Up)
Take the Zions shuttle to the last stop, Temple of Sinawava. Hike in as far as you like and turn around at any time. You will be hiking through water, and over slick rocks so wear appropriate shoes. In spring the water will be colder from the snow melt. This is a great hike in the hot summer months and definitely less crowded in the fall, when water is lower.
A nice evening stroll along the Virgin River. Bike, dog, and wheelchair friendly.