Upheaval DomeIsland in the Sky, Canyonlands National Park, Ut
Geological Wonders, Amazing Views, and a Fun, Short Hike
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Length: 0.8-1.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 100-150 ft
Approximate Hiking Time: 1-2.5 hr
Features: Geological Wonders
Nearest Town: Moab, Ut
Is Upheaval Dome caused by a meteor impact? A salt dome uplift? Or something else? We may never know, but we can still enjoy it!
This is a fun, short hike with a bunch of stairs, some slickrock hiking, and great views of really fascinating geology.
- Trail Condition 80% 80%
- Usage 100% 100%
- Trail Head Easy to Find 100% 100%
- Kid Friendly 80% 80%
1. Cool Geology
Upheaval Dome has really fascinating geology. What caused it? Now is a great time to let your mind wander….
After the first overlook you’ll climb a set of stairs carved into the slickrock. So much fun!
3. Landscape Views
Once at the viewpoints you’ll be able to look into Upheaval Dome and around the surrounding area, the ultimate reward.
Upheaval Dome is located in the Canyonlands Island in the Sky district located north of Moab. Head north out of Moab on US191. Turn left onto UT313 and follow the road until you reach the Canyonlands National Park entrance booths.
Once inside the park follow the Grand Viewpoint Road to the fork in the road. At the fork turn right onto Upheaval Dome Road. The trailhead for Upheaval Dome is at the end of the road about 4.8 miles from the turn.
From the trailhead follow the signs to the Upheaval Dome overlooks. The trailhead is very well signed, but pay attention to which trail you take. If you take the wrong trail, you’ll be on the Syncline Loop trail, a primitive trail that runs 8.8miles around Upheaval Dome and that would be a bummer if it wasn’t the plan!
The trail starts up a set of stairs from the trailhead and follows a pretty steady incline all the way up to the first overlook. It is about 0.4 miles from the trailhead and overlooks the southside of Upheaval Dome. You can actually see the 2nd overlook from here!
From the first overlook you can continue to the second overlook or if you just wanted an easy hike head back to the parking lot.
To reach the second overlook continue to follow the trail across the slickrock until it crosses a narrower section in the slickrock with stairs cut into the rock. This section looks like a saddle and has some exposure.
From here climb up the slickrock to connect to the trail as it passes down between the two butte peaks. Note: It’s a great view down into Upheaval Dome from these peaks and worth the stop to take it all in. The trail to the second overlook wasn’t well marked through this area, but there was only one reasonable way to come down between the butte peaks.
Follow the trail down between the buttes to get to the second overlook. There is a little bit of exposure here so watch that kids are paying attention to where they’re walking. Ice cleats are a must if snow and ice are present on the trail.
Once you reach the flat part of the trail continue to follow the trail marked by rocks and cairns to the second overlook.
This viewpoint is fenced for safety. It gives views of upheaval dome back towards the first overlook. In my opinion the second viewpoint offers better views of Upheaval Dome, but either viewpoint are worth the hike.
Why is this hike easy to moderate?
Upheaval Dome is easy to the first lookout where the path is well defined though there are many stairs to climb. The trail is moderate to the second overlook as there are some areas of exposure, the need to follow rock cairns, and a bit of trail finding to get between the buttes.
If you are hiking this trail in the winter you should have ice cleats and poles as it can be slippery.
More to Choose From: Hike-Utah!
Check out this and more hikes in Canyonlands National Park.
Pothole Point, Canyonlands National Park, Ut
Length: 0.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 36 ft
Pothole Point trail heads to a series of potholes which are an abundant source of life in the desert.
Aztec Butte, Canyonlands National Park, Ut
Length: 2 miles
Elevation Gain: 260 ft
The hike to Aztec Butte requires scrambling, but panoramic views of Island in the Sky treat the hikers who climb to the top and visit the granaries.