Okay, we may be fudging the translation but the Canyonlands basecamp bit is true. Go ahead, polygraph us. You can find us in Monticello, or Canyonlands, or somewhere in between.
Monticello sits just below (south of) and above (higher elevation) Moab. Smaller crowds, less sweltering heat in the summer, and less expensive lodging highlight this charming town which actually was named in honor of Thomas Jefferson’s estate by Mormon pioneers in the 1880s.
Here are 3 reasons why “Monticello” should populate your search field when planning a trip to Canyonlands National Park and the surrounding area, in addition to the fact that this area was recently named one of 10 places to visit in the United States in 2018 by Lonely Planet.
The Needles District
Southeast of the Colorado River, Needles holds a hundred stunning hikes and world-class off-roading. Plenty to see on day hikes (Pothole Point, Cave Springs) or drive and camp a few days for even more (Chesler Park Loop). Research the roads, reserve your park permits, tune up your 4WD and cut as deep into the Canyonlands map as you dare.
While others flock to the more crowded Island in the Sky District, you’ll enjoy more quiet and less people photobombing your selfie. The best part? Monticello is just a (incredibly scenic) 55-minute drive from the Needles District Visitor Center. Bonus: You’ll pass by Newspaper Rock – a stunning collection of petroglyphs from multiple ancient cultures – as well as Indian Creek, which is home to world class rock climbing and located within the new Bears Ears National Monument.
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Canyon Country Discover Center
Located at the north end of Monticello, you and your kids can take a hike, make clay jewelry, blow something up and fight invasive species on the Discovery Center’s surreptitiously edifying ed-ventures. It’s a school; it’s a museum; it’s an outdoor adventure center; it’s the tastiest biology-astronomy-conservation-geology-archaeology-service-paleontology smoothie your kids (and you) will ever drink.
Click here to learn more about this and other museums
Hideout Golf Course
A mountain course in the middle of the desert that’s consistently ranked in the top 50 of Golf Week’s best municipal courses in the country and doesn’t charge ridiculous green fees? Sounds like a recipe for relaxation after some hiking in Canyonlands. It’s an 18-hole course that boasts the highest green (elevation wise) in the state – but the rule of “lowest score wins” still applies.
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Click here for helpful information to begin planning you trip to southeastern Utah.